Pictured above from left to right:Matt McCraw, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bartow, first vice president; Aaron Burgner, senior pastor of Lakes Church, president; Lito Lucas, pastor of Philippine International Christian Fellowship in Lakeland, second vice president.
LUTZ–During the 2023 Pastors’ Conference annual meeting held Nov. 12-13 at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, three Florida Baptist pastors were elected by acclamation to lead the 2024 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference.
Aaron Burgner, senior pastor of Lakes Church, with campuses in Lakeland and Auburndale, was nominated by Alan Brumback, lead pastor of First Baptist Church Naples, to serve as president of the 2024 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference. Burgner succeeds James Ross, pastor of Church on Bayshore in Niceville.
A Polk County native, Burgner began serving as senior pastor of Lakes Church, previously known as First Baptist Church at the Mall, in November 2017 after having served churches in Kentucky, North Carolina and Louisiana. Burgner led his church to change its name to Lakes Church because church leaders believed the new name would be recognizable at any of its current and future locations moving forward as its members seek to reach Central Florida with the gospel. He has led his church to generously support the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their state conventions and SBC missions and ministries.
In his nomination, Brumback said, that Burgner is a “phenomenal leader in our state.” Burgner has led Lakes Church to make “a significant kingdom impact” in Central Florida, said Brumback. Pastor Burgner has a “heart of encouragement” and a “passion for evangelism,” he said.
Also elected to serve as 2024 Pastors’ Conference officers were Matt McCraw, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bartow, nominated by Aaron Filippone, pastor of Indian Rocks Baptist Church in Largo, for Pastors’ Conference first vice president; and Lito Lucas, pastor of Philippine International Christian Fellowship in Lakeland, nominated by Richard Williamson, associational mission strategist for South Florida Baptist Association, for Pastors’ Conference second vice president.
A native of Polk County, McCraw has served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Bartow since September 2017, after serving churches in Florida and Kentucky since 2000. He is the author of a recently published book, “Leading the Jesus Way: Learning to Lead from the Master.”
In his nomination, Filippone said, that McCraw is a “pastor with heart.” Filippone said he has known McCraw since he was five years old and described him as a “hard worker,” one who lives an “exemplary life” and “organized.”
Lucas, a native of the Philippines, moved to the United States to study at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, graduating in 1997 with a master of theology degree in pastoral leadership. Following graduation, he and his family moved to Lakeland, where he launched
Philippine International Christian Fellowship. Lucas also serves as Asian-American Multicultural consultant for the Florida Baptist Convention.
Lito is a “pastor’s pastor,” said Williamson, and he has served his local association in various roles through the years.
The 2024 Pastors’ Conference meeting will be held Nov. 10-11 in conjunction with the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting at First Baptist Church, Orlando.