The past three and a half years have been a huge learning curve for me as I have been blessed with the privilege of serving Florida Baptists through the Board of Directors of The Florida Baptist Witness. Through this wonderful avenue of media, I have met some of the finest leaders who come from different parts of our state. I have also been blessed to come to know some of our leading pastors and laity whom I had only known from a distance. I have grown to admire the hard work and commitment of our Witness staff as they have shared the Good News literally around the world in print and in person. This has been a difficult nine months for our staff in Jacksonville as they have worked many hours putting together our paper and maintaining our website.
Since May, 2013, I have journeyed with five other individuals of the Board as we have led in a time of transition from our previous Executive Editor to the discovery of our new Executive Editor. These were some very trying months as I found myself, for the first time in thirteen years, also transitioning to a new pastorate. Only through the fantastic support of the transition team of Pastors Ken Whitten, Jim Locke, Patrick Pfrimmer, Brad Smith, Tim Maynard and our lay leader Randy Knepper was this task possible. I am a very blessed and grateful pastor who has learned much from these men. Together, we prayed, believing God was in control and ready to lead us forward in a time when Baptist state papers are typically declining in subscriptions and the easy access of news through the internet has made it even more of a challenge to encourage people to read printed news.
The passage I quoted in the beginning says, “If you keep silent at this time….” Those opening words address the opinion of our transition team in believing that we, as a convention, are most definitely in an age of transition. We believe these days call for some drastic measures in reporting and the printing of the news. I, for one, value The Florida Baptist Witness and desire to see it return to even greater days than it enjoyed previously. For this to happen, we must realize that we cannot continue down the road we have traveled for the past fifteen years. Things are changing in the world of technology at a rapid pace. Hence, we were led by the Holy Spirit to call on a man to lead us who has exceptional skills in taking a paper from an embryonic format to becoming a very successful publication. We longed to find the right person as we were blessed with many very qualified candidates.
The more we met and prayed, the more it became abundantly clear that the Lord was leading us to one person who was literally halfway around the world and yet he was grounded in the south. Just as the Father was working in our hearts, He was also working in the hearts of Kevin and Melanie Bumgarner, giving them a desire to return to the US mainland. Kevin has served in the secular press all of his life, all the while being very active in his local church. While living in North Carolina, he was ordained as a deacon at the same church where I was ordained into the Gospel ministry. His pastor is my family’s pastor still today. God sovereignly placed this puzzle together and through the confirmation of many Godly people, Kevin Bumgarner’s passion for ministry and excellence in leadership was affirmed. I, for one, am excited about his arrival this week as our new Executive Editor. Does he have a lot to learn?
Absolutely! Is he capable! Most definitely! Is he called? Without a doubt!
There are three things you can do to help our new Executive Editor be the best Florida has ever had. First and foremost, pray for him and his family as they return to the mainland and take on the huge challenge of leading the best state paper in the Southern Baptist Convention. Second, welcome him into your office or church as he makes his rounds in the coming months to hear your thoughts and dreams for sharing the Good News and the engagement of Florida Baptist in missions. Third, encourage more of your friends, churches and others to not only subscribe to the Florida Baptist Witness but consider advertising their businesses in your paper as well!
Nothing happens by accident and I believe Kevin Bumgarner becoming our new Executive Editor is no fluke. He is the man God has tapped for such a time as this. Will you join me in praying for this man that God will empower him with His wisdom and strength as he steps into this new leadership role? These are great days for Florida and there is a greater need for us to come together like no other generation!
Thank you for the awesome privilege and honor to serve you and all Florida Baptists!
Randy Huckabee is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Dade City, Florida. He has served over two thirds of his ministry in Florida. He has just completed a 13-year tenure as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Okeechobee in August of 2013. Huckabee also serves as the recording secretary of the Florida Baptist Convention.
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