Pastor Mac Brunson, co-pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, stunned his congregation by announcing his resignation from the church, effective April 30, 2018.
Brunson will preach his last sermon on Sunday, May 6th.
Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green said he is thankful for the friendship and partnership he’s had with Mac Brunson.
“He has been a strong leader in Florida Baptist life and I appreciate his faithful service at First Baptist Jacksonville,” Green said. “I pray for God’s continued blessings upon him in this season of transition.”
Brunson came to First Baptist in 2006 and since then, the church has seen steady growth. Brunson detailed that growth in a statement he wrote to the church in the wake of the announcement. Some of the accomplishments that have occurred under his direction include:
- The opening of First Baptist Academy, which continues to grow with the high school opening in the Fall
- The opening of First Baptist Jacksonville South campus eight years ago, with a ground-breaking of its new building set for later in May
- The renovation of the sanctuary, preschool and children’s areas, as well as the Lindsay Memorial building
- The addition of the Ortega campus
- The opening of Campus Church at University of North Florida
- Increased giving to Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, helping Baptist missionaries carry the Gospel throughout the world
Brunson said in a written statement to his congregation that he and wife Debbie are waiting for the Lord to show them where their next place of ministry will be.
“Deb and I have sensed for the last six or seven months that the Lord was bringing our ministry to a close here in Jacksonville,” he said. “We are now seeking the Lord’s will for our next place of ministry and excitedly waiting for the Lord to show us His perfect will for our lives.”
In September of 2017, the church unanimously voted to bring on Heath Lambert as co-pastor, continuing a long-held co-pastoring tradition at First Baptist. At the time, Brunson said he had no plans to retire but was creating a vehicle for the smooth transition of a large congregation, something he wished he had done previously as pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.
“At 60, Brunson has no immediate plans to retire and Lambert is looking forward to serving with a leader who loves his church well,” the Witness reported last November.
In a statement from the church, the congregation was reminded that in that transition plan, either pastor had the ability to leave at any time, leaving the remaining pastor as sole senior pastor.
“Since that time, Dr. Brunson has sensed the call of God on his life to move to another venue of ministry,” the statement reads.
The abruptness of the announcement left many wondering about the circumstances surrounding the resignation. Yet in a Q & A session facilitated by Lambert during Sunday evening worship, no questions were asked – the only words offered were those of encouragement and support for Dr. Lambert as the church moves forward.
To further quell unwanted gossip, the church statement adds: “Whenever a pastor leaves a place of service it is common for rumors of a scandal to circulate. We want to be clear that no such scandal exists at First Baptist, or in the ministry of Dr. Brunson. Dr. Brunson’s service has been characterized by moral and ministerial faithfulness, and no individual or group within our church asked him to leave.”
Before coming to First Baptist Jacksonville, Brunson previously served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Tex. and Green Street Baptist Church in High point, N.C. After receiving his masters and doctorate degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tex., he served as pastor of South Norfolk Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Va.
You can read Brunson’s statement to his church here.
By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, April 30, 2018