SBTS prof. becomes highest elected African-American in KBC

Communications Staff — November 20, 2006

Kevin Smith, a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, became the first African-American ever to be elected first vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Nov. 14.

Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville and assistant professor of church history at Southern, was elected by a vote of 423-208 over Skip Alexander, pastor of Campbellsville Baptist Church in Campbellsville, at the KBC annual meeting in Bowling Green.

Smith’s election marks only the second time an African-American has been elected as an officer of the KBC. Charles King, pastor of Corinthian Baptist Church in Frankfort, was elected second vice president in 1971.

“I would like to be an advocate in the African-American Baptist community for what I would consider to be the blessing of ministry available in the Kentucky Baptist Convention,” Smith said. “There are a lot of denominations where people participate out of historic loyalty but might not necessarily see viable ministry opportunities. But there are opportunities in the KBC … I don’t think there is anything in the denominational life of Kentucky that has the training opportunities the KBC offers.”

Under Smith’s leadership Watson Memorial affiliated with the KBC two years ago. Previously the church was affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention—a historically black denomination that Smith described as moderate to liberal theologically. Watson Memorial gave 3 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program this year and plans to increase its giving to 9 percent over the next two years.

“It was a smooth transition that was a matter of education and making the congregation aware of the opportunities within the KBC,” Smith said of his church’s move to the KBC.

People of all races who are committed to the truth of Scripture can find opportunities to serve within Kentucky Baptist circles, he said.

“The KBC can make further strides in the area of race as it regards not just African-Americans, but Hispanic brothers and sisters, Asians and other races as well,” Smith said. “But I think the KBC has taken great strides. If you look at boards and committees, there are African-Americans serving in those capacities.”

One of Smith’s missions as first vice president will be to inform a diverse assortment of believers in Kentucky that training, encouragement and support are available in the KBC, he said.

“The KBC is situated for any Baptist church that wants to do viable Christian ministry in Kentucky,” Smith said. “One of my burdens is making connections. I think there are people out there that need to be made aware of that and churches that are out there seeking to do evangelistic ministry that need to know the fellowship available to them. I don’t see any resistance in the KBC staff or in the KBC in general to greater involvement of any Bible-believing Baptists in Kentucky.”

In other business, Chad Fugitt, a doctor of ministry student at Southern, was elected second vice president.

Fugitt, who is pastor of Chaplain Baptist Church in Bloomfield, was the lone candidate for second vice president. He currently serves on the KBC Mission Board and is a 2005 master of divinity graduate from Southern.

Darren Gaddis, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, was elected president by a vote of 792-403 over Steve Ayers, pastor of Hillvue Heights Baptist Church in Bowling Green.

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