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Austin nominated for top position among South Carolina Baptists

Former Georgia Baptist pastor also served as GBC first vice president


COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP) — Former Georgia Baptist pastor Jim Austin, who led churches in Morganton and Flowery Branch, has been nominated by a search committee to hold the top position for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

An associate executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, Austin, 53, is the committee’s choice to succeed Carlisle Driggers, who retired at the end of February after 15 years as the Convention’s executive director-treasurer. Driggers has continued to assist in the work of the Convention as the search committee continued its work even after moving to his retirement home in Georgia.

Austin has served as pastor of Morganton Baptist Church in Fannin County, Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, and in Roanoke, Va. In 1999, he served as first vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and is a former trustee of Truett-McConnell College.

If approved by the Convention’s executive board, Austin’s name would be presented to messengers for their vote at a called session of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. No date has been set for a called convention, which will meet in Columbia. Late April is considered a likely time for the special convention.

In a statement issued to the Convention’s newsjournal, The Baptist Courier, search committee chairman Tim Williams said, “In a genuine spirit of unanimity, the search committee for the position of executive director-treasurer for the South Carolina Baptist Convention is pleased to announce that we will be recommending Dr. Austin to fill this position at a special called meeting of the Executive Board on March 27 at the Baptist building in Columbia.”

Austin has wide experience in the field of missions. In addition to serving as a missionary journeyman in the Philippines, he’s been a mission team recruiter and leader for short-term overseas mission trips and pastor training seminars to the Caribbean, Central America, Canada, Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia — including India and China. He served two terms as a trustee of the International Mission Board, where he was chairman of the Europe, Western Pacific, and orientation committees.

Austin is a graduate of Jacksonville State University and Southwestern Seminary. He earned the doctor of ministry degree at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He received an honorary doctorate from Emmanuel Bible College and Seminary in Kota, India.

Austin and his wife Debbie are parents of five children.