Pastors to be nominated to lead Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference in 2023

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PENSACOLA—James Ross will be nominated by fellow Florida Baptist pastor Erik Cummings to serve as president of the 2023 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference.

The nomination from Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church of Carol City, will come during this year’s Pastors’ Conference meeting, set for Nov. 13-14 at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola in conjunction with the Florida Baptist State Convention meeting.

Ross is “an influential and dynamic leader. He will be inspirational, challenging and transformational as president of the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference,” Cummings said.

James Ross“I am deeply honored that Pastor Erik Cummings is nominating me to serve in this role. I love Jesus; I love the local church and I love Florida Baptists. I believe that we have some of the greatest pastors in the world. Things are changing; our state is changing; church involvement is changing. I want to lead a conference that is inspirational and practical for pastors who want to see a fruitful season of ministry in a difficult time culturally,” said Ross, who has served as pastor of Church on Bayshore  in Niceville since November 2017.

Under his leadership, Church on Bayshore, 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.

Ross also currently serves voluntarily as coordinator of the Emerald Coast Church Network.

Prior to pastoring Church on Bayshore, Ross planted Mosaic Church of Crestview, where he served for more than nine years.

Ross has been active in denominational life, having served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Committees (2022) and on the Florida Baptist Committee on Order of Business (2019-2021), serving as vice chair in 2021. He preached at the 2021 Florida Baptist State Convention and served as second vice president of the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference in 2016.

He is a graduate of The Baptist College of Florida and Liberty University and will graduate with a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in December.

He has been married to his wife, Christie, for 16 years, and they have five children. Foster parents for six years with One More Child, the couple is in the process of adopting a child who has lived with them for almost two years.

First vice president

Josh Glymph, pastor of Refuge Church in Jacksonville, will nominate David Tarkington, pastor of First Baptist of Orange Park, for Pastors’ Conference first vice president.

David Tarkington“David is a leader and pastor who seeks to platform Jesus above all. In a culture where platforming one’s self has become so popular, David seeks to lift the name of Jesus above all other names through how he leads, serves and lifts up others. The way David comes alongside pastors, church planters, minority leaders and missionaries is an example for all pastors to take note of and follow. For these reasons, and because I know the man David as a friend, I can think of no better person than David Tarkington for vice president of the Pastors’ Conference. The way David has gotten behind and supported the church planting efforts here in Jacksonville has truly made our city a place where you ‘don’t pastor alone,’” Glymph said.

Having served on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church in Orange Park since 1994 and as lead pastor since 2005, Tarkington said, “I am willing to serve in this Pastors’ Conference role because other pastors have asked if I would consider doing so. I believe that Florida Baptists are collectively doing a great work for the kingdom, but as culture shifts continue to happen and challenges of pastoral ministry grow, many pastors are struggling to stay engaged. The Pastors’ Conference provides a time of refreshing, encouragement and challenge to pastors in our churches. It is needed now more than ever.”

Beyond his local church, Tarkington has served for almost two decades in his association, First Coast Churches, in numerous capacities, including moderator, committee member and chairman of the associational mission strategist search committee. He currently serves as the expand team leader for the association, working with sending churches and church planters to reach the city and local communities with the gospel.

Additionally, Tarkington has served on the 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.

A native of Tennessee, Tarkington is a graduate of University of North Texas, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Tracy, have two adult children.

Second vice president

J J Johnson, senior pastor of South Tampa Fellowship, will nominate Zelvis Applin, lead pastor of South Hills Church in Wimauma for Pastors’ Conference second vice president.

“Zelvis is a gifted speaker and musician, but greater than that he is a passionate follower of Jesus, choosing to say Yes, no matter where that Yes leads him to serve his Savior. He has something substantial to contribute, that the diversity of leadership in our Florida Baptist churches is worth celebrating,” said Johnson.

Having pastored South Hills Church since January 2017, Applin said, “My willingness to serve as the second vice president of the Pastors’ Conference comes from my submission to God’s calling. I love the local church and its leaders. I see this as an opportunity to serve my co-laborers in the gospel ministry. My heart is to be a part of a process that would encourage and equip them to continue to invest in others and assist in building God’s kingdom.”

Prior to planting South Hills Church, Applin served as worship arts pastor for five years at South Tampa Fellowship.

Applin is a graduate of Texas Tech University and has been attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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