Southern Seminary graduates elected to major leadership positions in the Kentucky Baptist Convention

Communications Staff — December 9, 2019

Three graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were elected to leadership positions of the Kentucky Baptist Convention during the KBC annual meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, November 12.

Chad Fugitt, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, Kentucky, was elected president of the KBC, while Wes Fowler, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Mayfield in Mayfield, Kentucky, and Greg Gilbert, senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, were elected first and second vice president, respectively.

These three elections highlight the longstanding cooperative and flourishing relationship between the KBC and the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, dating back to Southern Seminary’s move from Greenville, South Carolina, to Louisville in 1859.

“The newly elected leaders of the Kentucky Baptist Convention remind us of the privilege of serving the Baptists of this blessed commonwealth,” said Southern Seminary President R, Albert Mohler Jr. in a statement. “Southern Seminary is incredibly proud of these leaders and of the heritage they represent. This is a great day for all Kentucky Baptists.”

Chad Fugitt, Wes Fowler, and Greg Gilbert. (Robin Cornetet/Kentucky Today)

During the Southern Seminary luncheon at the KBC annual meeting, Mohler emphasized the rich relationship between Southern Seminary and the KBC and said the seminary would not exist without the strong bonds of a shared mission.

“Southern Seminary as we know it today would not be what it is without Kentucky Baptists,” Mohler told 160 gathered alumni and friends during the luncheon.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention was founded in 1837, predating both Southern Seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention, which was founded in 1845. Three Kentucky Baptists who were presidents of the SBC were also presidents of Southern Seminary: James P. Boyce, E.Y. Mullins, and John R. Sampey.

Todd Gray, executive director and treasurer of the KBC, said Kentucky Baptists are “grateful” to have Southern Seminary in their backyard and said the recent elections underscored Southern Seminary’s commitment to training faithful and theologically sound denominational leaders.

“We are grateful that Southern continues to train up leaders who can serve churches in the commonwealth and also serve as elected officers in the work of our convention,” said Gray, who is himself a two-time Southern Seminary graduate. “Chad Fuggitt, Wes Fowler, and Greg Gilbert represent the best of what has come out of Southern Seminary. These men hold a high view of Scripture, are committed to the Great Commission, hold to the Baptist Faith and Message, and believe in funding ministry and missions through the Cooperative Program. May the Lord continue to use Southern Seminary to train leaders who will faithfully serve the bride of Christ until he returns.”

Fugitt, who will serve as president of the KBC, earned his master of divinity from Southern Seminary in 2005 and is currently working on his doctorate of ministry in Southern’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. As president, he will appoint leaders to serve the convention and rally churches to support the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s unified plan of supporting missions and the spread of the gospel worldwide.

“I am deeply humbled to be given the opportunity to serve our churches in this way. This debt of gratitude brings tears to my eyes and makes me long to serve our convention of churches well,” Fugitt said, noting that Kentucky Baptists both led him to faith in Christ and encouraged him to respond to his call to ministry. “We are beginning to see a convergence between theological truth and missiological action. I believe our churches are growing stronger in the faith and becoming more and more intentional about evangelism and discipleship. I cannot imagine what fruitfulness will come about because of this moment in our history. My only prayer is that God will find us faithful.”

Fugitt also expressed that Southern Seminary and the KBC are deeply important to one another, since healthy and strong KBC churches will send their young men and women to be trained in gospel ministry at Southern Seminary. Similarly, the majority of pastors raised to lead Kentucky Baptist churches are Southern Seminary graduates, according to Fugitt.

“Our churches need pastors who actually believe the Scriptures,” he said. “This one conviction produces pastors who will lead their people into biblical truth with love, to give sacrificially to see the nations come to Christ, and to lead people to saving faith in Christ. I’m grateful that Southern is true to the gospel and fully affirming of the inerrancy of the Bible. I am the product of that service to our churches and it brings me great joy to know this is happening all over our Commonwealth today.”

Fowler, who will assist the president with all convention matters as first vice president, earned a doctor of ministry in expository preaching from Southern Seminary in 2015.

“I am always honored to serve the KBC in any capacity. I enjoy working alongside our KBC staff and I love building relationships with pastors all across our great Commonwealth,” Fowler said. “Under the leadership of Dr. Todd Gray, the KBC is in great hands and I’m confident its best days are ahead. In the near future, I believe evangelism will be prioritized, discipleship strategies will be promoted and implemented, baptisms will increase, and God will be glorified through it all.”

According to Fowler, Southern Seminary and the KBC are “partners” in proclaiming the gospel, since many Southern Seminary graduates will eventually pastor in the 2,350 churches of the KBC. Southern Seminary ensures that those pastors are getting the best training and education available, he said.

Gilbert, who pastors in Louisville, earned a master of divinity from Southern Seminary in 2006 and is working on his doctor of philosophy in Systematic Theology from the school. As second vice president, Gilbert will serve on numerous boards and committees throughout the KBC, serving and supporting Kentucky Baptist pastors and churches.

“This is an exciting time for the KBC,” Gilbert said. “There are new opportunities ahead, new challenges to be met, and new goals to be accomplished, as there are in every generation. But the mission remains clear: We’re here to support the churches that are proclaiming the gospel, and I’m excited to be able to play a small role in that mission.”

Gilbert also emphasized how the relationship between the KBC and Southern Seminary is mutually beneficial as future pastors and gospel ministers are trained and sent out into ministry throughout Kentucky and the rest of the world.

“Today, the relationship between the KBC and Southern Seminary is wonderfully and mutually beneficial,” Gilbert said. “Southern has been instrumental in training many of the men who pastor churches throughout Kentucky, and the KBC does important work in supporting those pastors once they engage in the work. In the end, we’re working together and encouraging one another to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to Kentucky and to the world.”

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