The Pastors’ Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been in existence since 1935. M.E. Dodd served as the first president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference for the first 14 meetings.
Dodd was replaced by legendary Oklahoma Baptist pastor Herschel Hobbs who served as the Pastors’ Conference president for 1950-51. Eventually, the term to serve as president of the Pastors’ Conference became a one-year duration. Looking at the list of past conference presidents, there have been 10 who at some point in their ministries were pastors of Oklahoma Baptist churches.
Along with Hobbs, John Bisagno (1972), Bailey Smith (1978), Jimmy Draper (1980), O.S. Hawkins (1985), Tom Elliff (1990), Jack Graham (1992), Claude Thomas (1998), Michael Catt (2008) and John Meador (2016) make up the list of Oklahoma Baptist pastors who served as SBC Pastors’ Conference presidents. In 2024, Stephen Rummage will be the 11th Oklahoma Baptist pastor to join the ranks.
“It’s a great honor to serve as the president of the Pastors’ Conference for a variety of reasons,” said Rummage, who has been senior pastor of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs since 2019. “One is because it’s an honor to bless fellow pastors across the SBC and put together a program that will encourage them and strengthen their ministries.
“Looking from a historical perspective and see the men who have served as the president of the Pastors’ Conference and even specifically to look at the men who have served in Oklahoma churches, it’s just a humbling thing,” Rummage continued. “I have incredible respect for these men. God has used many of them personally in my life.”
Praying for pastors
Serving as the SBC Pastors’ Conference president, Rummage expressed a heartfelt commitment to support pastors in prayer. One way this is demonstrated is through setting up a dedicated online prayer request form, allowing pastors and church leaders to share specific needs. The form can be found here.
Rummage said the idea of praying for SBC pastors originated when he was being nominated for his presidential role.
“I wanted to look for ways to pray meaningfully for pastors, and I wondered, if given the opportunity, guys would reach out to let me know how to pray for them,” he said.
In the past three months, Rummage has received more than 125 prayer requests from pastors all over the country.
“Pastors are requesting prayer for all kinds of things,” he said. “They want God to use them for His glory in the churches where they serve. They are asking prayer for their families and for health issues. They are asking prayer for God to use them to bring people to know Jesus as Savior. A recurring request is keeping faithful in what God has called them to do.”
‘Faithful’ is the conference theme
Rummage said the theme of the SBC Pastors’ Conference will be “Faithful,” based on Rev. 17:14, “… for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.”
“We are going to highlight different areas of faithfulness,” Rummage said. “Preachers at the Pastors’ Conference will address these different areas. As we do so, we will also take time to pray for one another as pastors, that we will continue to be faithful to God in those areas.”
Rummage is building the program for the 2024 Pastors’ Conference. He said he is planning to feature 11 speakers.
“We are in the process of putting together who the speakers will be,” he said. “We will release those names as we get closer to the time of the Pastors’ Conference. We are going to have preachers who stand firmly on the inherency, authority and sufficiency of the Bible and who love Southern Baptists and love the work of Southern Baptist churches.”
Rummage appreciates those involved in planning the Pastors’ Conference, including SBC executive committee staff members. Heather Janson, project manager of the 2023 Pastors’ Conference, will be serving in the same role next year. Patrick Janson, associate pastor at Coweta, First, is Heather’s husband.
The importance of the SBC Pastors’ Conference
Rummage was asked what role the SBC Pastors’ Conference has in relation to the SBC Annual Meeting, as the Pastors’ Conference meets for two days before the Annual Meeting.
“They are separate events, but in Southern Baptist life, our mission flows from our fellowship,” he replied. “As we strengthen our fellowship together, we are also able to focus more intently and intentionally on the mission God has given us of reaching our nation and our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“If we try to have a mission without having fellowship, then the mission becomes cold and sterile. But when there’s a warm fellowship, it ignites what we do in terms of mission. We can fellowship as we gather around the Word of God and hear the Word of God speak to us as it is preached from the pulpit and as we worship the Lord together.”
More information will be featured in the coming months on the 2024 SBC Pastors’ Conference at sbcpc.net.