Florida Baptists’ Tommy Green announces retirement

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JACKSONVILLE–Tommy Green has announced his retirement after serving Florida Baptists as executive director-treasurer since June 2015.

Green shared his plans to retire, effective Dec. 31, 2024, with Florida Baptists’ State Board of Missions, the convention’s governing body, during its regularly scheduled meeting in Jacksonville April 4.

He stated that he and his wife Karen have prayed about the retirement decision. “We have a great peace that this is the time–it’s the right time.”

The greatest days of ministry for Florida Baptists are still ahead.

Tommy Green executive director-treasurer, Florida Baptist Convention, as he announced his retirement April 4, 2024

Reflecting on his tenure serving Florida Baptists as executive director-treasurer, Green said, “This has been one of the most joyous and blessed experiences of my ministry. To have the privilege of serving our churches and our pastors in this way has been much more of a blessing to me than to them.”

As he retires, Green said that his prayer is that Florida Baptists “know how much I love them, care for them, how thankful I am for all of our churches, all of our pastors.”

He emphasized, “The Florida Baptist Convention is not about Tommy Green at all.

“It’s not about a person; it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope we have honored Christ and brought glory to Christ through all of the years that I have had the privilege of serving in this way.”

Green said he believes, “The greatest days of ministry for Florida Baptists are still ahead.”

‘Convention exists to serve churches’

As Florida Baptists’ 10th executive director-treasurer, Green has emphasized that the “convention exists to serve the churches,” stating that God said, “I will build My church,” not “I will build My convention.”

If a state convention is not seen as “a valued partner” with local churches, he said, the convention then becomes “irrelevant.”

To that end, Green purposefully led the state convention to “align with the passions of our churches,” which include church planting, church revitalization, baptisms, mission engagement and giving through the Cooperative Program and Maguire State Mission Offering. Those six passions led to Green’s vision, Challenge 2025, presented in 2019 as a five-year plan to spur Florida Baptist churches to attain a new level of commitment to reach the nation’s fastest- growing state with the gospel.

Florida Baptists, he said, “want to see the kingdom grow, and they realize it takes all of us to do that.

“To see the unity, the commitment that Florida Baptists have to reach Florida for Christ has been incredibly encouraging.”

‘Right Beside You’

The Florida Baptist Convention, under Green’s leadership, embraced a “Right Beside You” partnership approach with local churches. When Green took the Florida Baptist helm in 2015, he almost immediately began to restructure the state conventions’ ministries to be “right beside” the local church with a personalized, decentralized and regionalized approach to churches.

Regional catalysts are located throughout the state to serve local churches through relationships and resources. During Green’s tenure close to $36 million has been provided by the state convention directly to local churches and associations for kingdom ministry.

Cooperative Program giving

Another one of Green’s first steps as executive director-treasurer was to lead Florida Baptists to vote, at the 2015 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting, to send 51% of annual financial receipts from its churches to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program and retain 49% in the state. That decision, described by Green as a “driving missions mandate,” was made at a time when the average that state conventions throughout North America retained in their states was approximately 58%. Since that time, many other state conventions likewise have increased the percentage of financial gifts sent through the Cooperative Program.

Through the years of Green’s leadership, the Florida Baptist Convention has received close to $259,000,000 in Cooperative Program receipts from Florida Baptist churches and forwarded more than $130,000,000 to the Southern Baptist Convention for mission and ministry causes.

In 2017 when the Florida Baptist Convention sold its former Baptist Building in downtown Jacksonville, a check for $3,136,500, representing 51% of the sale price of $6,150,000, was given through the Cooperative Program, over and above the state convention’s regular Cooperative Program giving.

“Generosity is always honored by the Lord and blessed by the Lord,” Green said.

Baptisms

During Green’s tenure, more than 210,000 individuals have been baptized by Florida Baptists, with approximately 29,000 baptized in 2023.

“Florida Baptists are pacesetters in the area of evangelism,” Green said.

“Florida Baptists have led the entire Southern Baptist Convention in baptisms year after year after year.”

He noted that 12-15% of all baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention are in Florida Baptist churches.

Even as major hurricanes have torn paths of destruction through local communities and as the pandemic shut down churches and wreaked havoc, Florida Baptists responded to opportunities to share the gospel. “The healing of the community comes through the local church,” Green said.

It is “the heart and desire of our churches to be salt and light, even amid dark hours, to shine the gospel brightly.”

Other priorities

Additional Florida Baptist Convention priorities during Green’s tenure include:

  • A strategic partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Send Network for church planting in Florida. The partnership provides a 50/50 split between the two entities to provide financial support for new churches for four years. Close to 500 churches have been planted in Florida since 2015. Florida Baptists’ Maguire State Mission Offering has been refocused, returning to its original intent, so that all funds received are earmarked for church planting.
  • Continuation of longstanding partnerships with Cuba and Haiti. The partnership prioritizes local churches leading in these mission endeavors.
  • Improved policies and education models to prioritize sexual abuse prevention, reporting and survivor care. The Florida Baptist Convention is partnering with the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention, which is available to work with Florida Baptist churches to develop a comprehensive strategy for child protection and abuse prevention.
  • Established a church-to-church ministry partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
  • Assisted Florida Baptists in launching strategies to respond to and care for increasing numbers of immigrants in the state.
  • Set the groundwork for a regionalized pastors’ wives network in Florida.
  • Established state convention accreditation through the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability.

Prior to accepting the role as Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, Green served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, April 1996-June 2015; First Baptist Church in Buford, Georgia, 1988-1996; Franklin Creek Baptist Church in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 1985-1988; and Chesbrough Baptist Church in Kentwood, Louisiana, 1982-1985.

An Alabama native, Green holds doctor of theology and master of divinity degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2013 Green was awarded the Alumni of the Year from New Orleans Seminary.

He and his wife Karen have three sons: John Green IV and his wife Katherine of Knoxville, Tennessee; Matthew Green and his wife Nathalie of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Philip Green, who passed away Aug. 28, 2023, at the age of 41, and four grandchildren.

As he looks toward his retirement, Green said, “I am thankful that God has brought together a family of churches that have a laser focus of reaching Florida and beyond for Christ.”

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