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March 2014

Life on Purpose


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news about the denomination

The following news items apply to (or affect) the Free Will Baptist denomination scattered across the nation and around the world.To read more about Free Will Baptists and the various departments that make up the national organization, visit

Read a brief history of Free Will Baptists in the United States.



2013 Leadership Conference Develops Visionary Leadership


NASHVILLE, TN—“Lead to Succeed: Principles for Visionary Leadership” was the theme of the 2013 Free Will Baptist Leadership Conference, which met at Nashville Airport Marriott Hotel December 9-10. Dr. Stan Toler, author, leader, and pastor was the featured speaker for general sessions and seminars throughout the two-day meeting.

Despite challenging weather conditions, more than 120 Free Will Baptist pastors and church leaders from 21 states and one Canadian province gathered for the annual event, which provides a meeting venue for denominational boards and agencies but is open to every Free Will Baptist minister and leader.


Photo: Dr. Stan Toler, keynote speaker


The meeting featured worship services, practical instruction, and plenty of time for conversation and networking. “Leadership Conference gives pastors, state leaders, and national board members practical ways to enhance their missions and visions for all facets of ministry,” said Ryan Lewis, conference director. “This year, Dr. Toler shared crucial principles of leadership to help Free Will Baptists advance the Kingdom, vital training for anyone who shepherds others in ministry.”

Stan Toler pastored for over 40 years before becoming general superintendent for the Church of the Nazarene. He also served as vice president for John C. Maxwell’s INJOY Leadership Institute for more than a decade. A best selling author of nearly 100 books, Toler has taught seminars and trained church and organizational leaders worldwide.


Photo: Jena Simpson, Welch College

He encouraged conference attendees to be faithful and responsible with insignificant details, to be disciplined, joyful regardless of circumstances, comfortable with their abilities, confident in everyday battles, and ready to point to God’s faithfulness. In short, he encouraged listeners to be visionary in their leadership, claiming victory through God’s strength.

“Stan Toler has been a great friend of Free Will Baptists over the years,” said Executive Secretary Keith Burden. “He understands firsthand what pastors and church leaders face in ministry, and his messages were practical and encouraging.”


Photo: Keith Burden, executive secretary, greets attendees.


Evening services featured music provided by the Welch College Men’s Quartet, Rejoice Ensemble, and the 42-voice College Choir directed by Dr. James Stevens.

Todd Smith, executive director of the South Carolina State Association, reflected on the conference: “In spite of missing my flight due to inclement weather, missing a connecting flight, getting ‘bumped’ twice, and delayed three more times, the friendship and fellowship I enjoyed with other great leaders from across the denomination was well worth the hurdles it took to get here!"

All national boards met in conjunction with the conference, including the Executive Committee, Board of Retirement, FWB Foundation, Home Missions, International Missions, Master’s Men, Randall House, Welch College, and Women Nationally Active for Christ. Home Missions also hosted an afternoon reception to honor outgoing General Director Larry Powell for 12 years in the position.


Photo: Rejoice Ensemble from Welch College sings for the Tuesday evening worship service.


In addition, a seven-member committee met to consider the moral and legal implications of same-sex marriage on Free Will Baptists. The special committee was appointed by Tim York, moderator of the denomination, as directed by the General Board at the national convention in Tampa. Committee recommendations will be brought to the 2014 convention for consideration.

The 2014 Leadership Conference will return to Nashville Marriott Airport Hotel December 8-9.


Theological Symposium Meets at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College

MOORE, OK—The 2013 Theological Symposium met at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College for its annual, two-day event, October 28-29. Sponsored by the Commission for Theological Integrity, this year’s papers included a broad range of topics:

  • Matthew Bracey: Making Melody Unto the Lord: A Practical Theology of Song

  • Tim Campbell: A Solemn Appeal for a Serious Approach to Licensure and Ordination

  • Charles Cook: Myth, Fact, or Both? Navigating Competing Claims in Secularization Theory

  • Kevin Hester: To Marry Is to Burn? Lessons on Marriage and Spirituality from a Celibate Monk

  • Thomas Marberry: The Lucan Travel Narrative: A Journey into Conflict

  • Matthew McAffee: Covenant and the Warnings of Hebrews: The Blessing and the Curse

  • Jesse Owens: The Necessity of an Historical Adam for Biblical Soteriology

  • Matthew Pinson: A Consideration of Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of
    Five-Point Calvinism

  • W. Jackson Watts: Crafting a Free Will Baptist Apologetic

Following each presentation, presenters fielded comments, critiques, and questions from attendees. These discussion periods often led to constructive dialogue concerning the paper’s application in the local church. Well-attended, this year’s symposium afforded students, pastors, church leaders, and laymen an opportunity to interact and discuss the issues confronting our denomination both today and in the future.

This year, two new members were added to the commission: Randy Corn, pastor of Bethlehem FWB Church in Ashland City, Tennessee, and W. Jackson Watts, pastor of Grace FWB Church in Arnold, Missouri.

You may purchase the spiral-bound collection of papers for $25. You may also order back issues of Integrity Theological Journal for $6 each (including postage). Please make checks payable to Commission for Theological Integrity and indicate the volume number for journal requests. Send orders to:

Commission for Theological Integrity
Attention: Matt Pinson
3606 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37205

Make plans now to participate in the 2014 Theological Symposium, October 27-28, 2014, at Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee. To find out more, contact Commission Chairman Matthew Pinson:


2014 Nominees Requested

ANTIOCH, TN—The 2013-2014 Nominating Committee, which will serve through the national convention in Ft. Worth, Texas, is prepared to receive nominees for the 2014 convention elections, according to Edwin Hayes (OH), committee chairman. The committee will meet March 3-4, at the National Office Building in Nashville, Tennessee, to consider nominations and compile a slate of nominations for the positions to be filled. The report will be presented to delegates at the July 2014 meeting.

The following board and commission positions will be filled in 2014: Randall House Publications (3), International Missions (3), Welch College (3), Commission for Theological Integrity (1), Historical Commission (1), Music Commission (1), Media Commission (1), General Board (10), Executive Committee (3), and General Officers (4).

Nominations, accompanied by a brief resume, must be submitted in writing exclusively to the chairman on or before Friday, February 14.

Contact Chairman Edwin Hayes:

Edwin Hayes, Ohio State Office
7554 Slate Ridge Boulevard
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068


Classic Sermon Index Launched

NASHVILLE, TN—On November 12, 2013, Paul Harrison, Free Will Baptist pastor and long-time member of the Commission for Theological Integrity, launched, a website housing a vast collection of historical sermons.

The 42,000 sermons date to the second century and are indexed by primary biblical text for simple searching. Each sermon is cataloged according to principal text, author, book title, and page number within the book in which it is recorded. Because the vast majority of the material is hyperlinked, the index is like having thousands of sermon books neatly organized at one’s fingertips, and the collection continues to expand daily.  

Harrison served as pastor of Cross Timbers FWB Church in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1991 to 2013. He also served as adjunct professor at Welch College for 17 years, teaching church history and Greek. His work on the epistles of James and Jude appears in the Randall House Bible Commentary Series, and he has written many other articles for publication. He is a graduate of Welch College (B.A.), Middle Tennessee State University  (M.A.), and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.D.).



©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists