Photo Above: Florida Baptist pastors elected to serve as officers for the 2023 Pastors’ Conference are (left to right): James Ross, pastor of Church on Bayshore in Niceville, to serve as Pastors’ Conference president; David Tarkington, pastor of First Baptist of Orange Park, to serve as first vice president; and Zelvis Applin, lead pastor of South Hills Church in Wimauma, to serve as second vice president.
PENSACOLA— During the 2022 Pastors’ Conference annual meeting held Nov. 14-15 at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, three Florida Baptist pastors were elected by acclimation to lead the 2023 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference.
James Ross, pastor of Church on Bayshore in Niceville, was nominated by Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church of Carol City, to serve as president of the 2023 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference. Ross succeeds Jim Locke, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola.
Ross has served as pastor of Church on Bayshore since November 2017. Under his leadership, the church, formerly known as First Baptist Church of Niceville, has grown from just over 500 to almost 1,000 in attendance, is on track for the highest number of baptisms in 20 years in 2022 and gives 8.5% to the Cooperative Program, with more than 20% of all financial receipts earmarked for missions.
In his nomination, Cummings said that Ross is a “young and gifted” pastor who “has displayed a servant’s heart. He is the man for the season. He will lead well because he has served well.”
Also elected to serve as 2023 Pastors’ Conference officers were David Tarkington, pastor of First Baptist of Orange Park, nominated by Josh Glymph, pastor of Refuge Church in Jacksonville, to serve as first vice president; and Zelvis Applin, lead pastor of South Hills Church in Wimauma, nominated by JJ Johnson, senior pastor of South Tampa Fellowship, to serve as second vice president.
Tarkington has served on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church of Orange Park since 1994 and as lead pastor since 2005. Additionally, Tarkington has served for almost two decades in his association, First Coast Churches, in numerous capacities, and he served on Florida Baptists’ State Board of Missions for two terms, including one stint as the finance committee chairman. He also serves as a church planting assessor and coach for the Send Network.
Glymph said that Tarkington “seeks to platform Jesus above all” and comes alongside others to encourage them in their Christian commitments.
Applin has pastored South Hills Church since January 2017. Prior to planting South Hills Church, Applin served as worship arts pastor for five years at South Tampa Fellowship.
Applin’s “charisma, personality and love for Jesus are contagious,” said Johnson.