July 24th, 2012 at 10:43 am
Former Baptist General Convention of Texas State Missions Commission Director James Semple died July 22 at the age of 80 after a battle with esophageal cancer.
For 12 years, Semple led the evangelism, missions, church services and Sunday School divisions of the BGCT as state missions commission director. During his tenure, the convention attained new highs in the number of church starts and people baptized. He retired from the convention staff in 2001.
From 2004-2007, Semple served the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. There he served as the convention’s acting executive director for 10 months. He also was the interim director of evangelism ministries.
Before joining the Texas convention staff, Semple was pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris for 25 years, during which the church had 25 consecutive years of increases in giving through the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program. Semple also previously served churches in Plano, Fort Worth, Mineral Wells and rural Wise County, as well as Ocala, Fla.
BGCT Executive Director Emeritus William Pinson said serving alongside Semple is one of the joys “of my life.” He praised Semple’s dedication to Christ, sharing the gospel and the Baptist denomination.
“Dr. Semple was a brilliant scholar and a zealous evangelist,” Pinson said. “His sermons and writing inspired and influenced a literal army of persons. His loving witness was used by the Lord to usher a host of persons in the Christian family. Heaven is more thoroughly populated because of the life and witness of James Semple.”
BGCT Executive Director David Hardage reflected on Semple’s impact for God’s kingdom.
“Dr. James Semple, to me, was the epitome of a Texas Baptist,” he said. “I am saddened to learn of his death but know that his life of ministry, as a pastor and denominational servant, will long be remembered.”
Semple is survived by his wife, Betty, six married children and 20 grandchildren.
Visitation is set for July 25, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Fry-Gibbs Funeral Home in Paris. The service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on July 26 at First Baptist Church in Paris.