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Prominent Southern Baptist pulpits in transition


(RNS) Two former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention are in the midst of transitions that will lead to retirement.

Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., announced that he would retire from his pastorate next year.

"In no way am I retiring from the gospel ministry," he said in a statement May 1. "I plan to devote whatever remaining time the Lord Jesus gives me to a ministry of Bible preaching, teaching and writing, and a ministry to preachers as he opens doors of opportunity."

Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., announced last spring that he thought his church should seek a "co-pastor" who would work with him and eventually become the congregation's senior pastor. On May 1, the chairman of the search team announced that the candidate for that position is David Uth, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in West Monroe, La.

Vines, a former pastor of West Rome Baptist Church in Rome, served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1988 to 1990 and was known for his leadership in the denomination's conservative resurgence. His church's pastors' conferences have been a prominent national event and he intends to serve as pastor until the conclusion of the next one in February 2006.

Henry served as president of the denomination from 1994 to 1996. He previously served on the Southern Baptist Convention Peace Committee that sought to resolve some of the controversies between moderate and more conservative members of the denomination in the 1980s.