Dr. Mac Brunson (’78) has been called as pastor at one of the largest Baptist churches in the southern Baptist Convention.
The head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is leaving that post to become to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, a move approved by members of the church on May 9, 1999.
Asked whether they supported Brunson’s selection as pastor, those attending an evening service rose to their feet and cheered for two minutes before their new pastor reappeared. There was no formal vote on the hiring.
After the vote, Brunson quoted from Isaiah 66:2, showing how God looks favorably upon a man of humility.
“I’ll come to you and I’ll come to you humble,” Brunson said, “And I’ll come to you contrite in spirit and I come trembling at the word of God.”
The Dallas church was founded 1890 and claimed a membership of 9,705 as of last fall, including the Rev. Billy Graham.
Brunson, senior pastor of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina, will be the first president of the Baptist State Convention in North Carolina to leave the post while in office. His term expires in November, but he will assume his duties at the First Baptist Church of Dallas around the first of July.
After two morning sermons on May 9th, Brunson read to the evening gathering from the book of Nehemiah and encouraged congregants to build the church into “the great evangelical flagship that He has called it out to be.”
“I want to tell you something,” he told the congregation. “If you vote to call me as your pastor tonight and you don’t come and join me in the work, I’m going to be the loneliest man in the state of Texas.”
Once in Dallas, Brunson will preside over a tradition-laden, 130-year-old ministry that include 9,705 members, 25 missions teams, a 400-bed night shelter, 300-plus ordained deacons, two day schools, and a college campus.
A graduate of North Greenville College, Furman University, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he grew up in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Don Brunson.
His first pastorate was First Damascus Baptist Church in Greenwood. The church was cited for a gain in Sunday School enrollment of 55 percent in one year and competed education and fellowship facilities while he was pastor.
As pastor of the 3,400 member Green Street Baptist Church in High Point for seven years, attendance more than doubled and the congregation completed a $10 million expansion.
Of his appointment to Dallas First Baptist, Dr. Brunson stated, “I never anticipated a move such as this, never dreamed of being pastor of a large church.” He further added, “Some 15 months ago the interim pastor there, Dr. Ken Hemphill, called and told me he was going to put my name on the list as a candidate and I told him no.” Brunson said, “In October he called back and told me some others had placed my name on the list and he was going to put it there himself.” Hemphill encouraged him to let the Lord lead him.
Brunson met with the Dallas people twice before he and his wife, the former Debbie Devore of Greenwood, South Carolina, discussed the situation.
He commented, “We admitted this was what we believe the Lord was leading us to do. I wouldn’t make a final decision until after the vote.” The vote came Sunday night and it was unanimous to call him.
The church membership is between 11,000 and 12,000 with some 2,500 attending the night of the vote. Between 4,000 and 5,000 attended the Sunday morning services.
It was not an easy decision because, Brunson said, “the people at Green Street Baptist Church have been good to us. The North Carolina Baptists have been good to us. It has been a great ministry here.”
He stated, “my 12-year-old son probably put it best when he said, ‘half my heart hurts, half my heart is excited’ about the move to Texas. We’re excited about the potential there.”
Article reprinted with permission from The Index- Journal in the September 1999 issue North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.