A month ago, we broke the news that H.B. Charles Jr., lead pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with locations in Jacksonville and Orange Park, was going to be nominated to be president of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.
On June 12th, Charles was elected to that important leadership role, one for which he is eminently qualified.
“I want to be real clear about something today,” said Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa area, who made the official nomination of Charles during the Pastors’ Conference’s Tuesday afternoon session in Phoenix. “I am not nominating HB Charles today because of the color of his skin.”
Whitten went on to outline Charles’ conservative views on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, the vision he has as leader of a thriving church body, and the importance he places on his family.
During an interview with the Witness last month, Whitten said this about Charles: “I have been incredibly impressed with his skill for the Word of God and love of the church.”
Charles and his committee will lead the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Conference in Dallas. These meetings are, among other things, designed to set the tone for the annual convention that follows.
“He’s a man who’s an incredible preacher and prolific author,” Whitten said of Charles in the previous interview. “He preaches all over the country and represents the church well. He’s also a family man. He just represents everything well that I value.”
Charles also will be the first African-American pastor to lead the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
Whitten said that several past presidents of the SBC Pastors’ Conference met earlier this year and they felt the need to give more leadership opportunities to help better represent an increasingly diverse denomination.
“One of the things we felt God impressing on us was the need in our Convention to stop talking about racial unity and start demonstrating it to the world,” Whitten said, adding: “We have incredible African-American, Hispanic and Asian pastors, and they deserve the opportunity to lead.”
When asked what specifically led him and the other pastors present to want to nominate Charles, Whitten said: “Because he exemplifies every Sunday what a great expository preacher looks like.”
For the past three years, Charles’ church has hosted an expository preaching conference called “Cutting It Straight.” This year’s event is planned for Sept. 19-21.
Charles has authored four books: “On Pastoring,” “The Difference Jesus Makes,” “On Preaching” and “It Happens After Prayer.”
He also has an extensive travel schedule; he spends about half his time during the week speaking at schools, conferences and churches. He has pastored Shiloh since the fall of 2008, and was lead pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for almost 18 years prior to his calling to Shiloh.
When contacted by the Witness in early May, Charles said he already was praying that, if elected to serve as president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference next year, the event would feature expository preaching that would encourage pastors and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.
He said he is aware of his potential role as the first African-American in this position.
“It is a humbling privilege to be considered in light of that factor,” Charles said. “It is my prayer that this conference will bring great spiritual unity. I believe that there are African-American, Hispanic and other leaders that God is doing a great work through, and they need to be spotlighted.”
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor