First Cohort of Leadership Texas Baptists celebrates completion

The first cohort of Leadership Texas Baptists celebrated completion on May 23, through a special graduation celebration at the Executive Board Meeting for Texas Baptists. Participants received awards and recognition for their hard work and dedication to the nine-month long program in its inaugural year. The participants were a diverse representation of young Texas Baptists ranging from church planters and ministers to staff members at Baptist institutions. 

“For me, the key to Leadership Texas Baptists is developing relationships with our emerging leaders,” said David Adams, director of Leadership Texas Baptists. “They are not just our future, but they are our current reality and colleagues in ministry - and based on this first group, I think we are in pretty good shape.” 

Executive Director David Hardage commissioned a team of staff to create the program with the mission to identify, educate and develop emerging Baptist leaders to serve the local church, state convention, denominational institutions, agencies and committees. The comprehensive training program sought to help the participant develop an in-depth understanding of Texas Baptists, grow in personal leadership development and to network with fellow church and lay leaders. 

“I decided to sign-up for this program because I saw the value in what the BGCT was all about and I wanted to learn more and connect with great leaders and learn and engage with what Baptists are doing across the state,” said cohort member David Cook. “This type of program really helps us see what is the best of the past but also see what is to come in the future.”

With an emphasis on emerging Texas Baptists leaders, the cohort had the opportunity to hear from a wide-range of leaders throughout the process. Speakers included Executive Director Hardage; Joel Allison, CEO of Baylor Scott and White Healthcare System; Dr. Gary Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University; Dr. Albert Reyes, president of Buckner International; Kathy Hillman, 2015 president for Texas Baptists; Dr. Jim Denison, president of Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, and many more noted leaders. 

“I really enjoyed hearing Joel Allison talking about communication and how he used every avenue of communication at his disposal to really make sure that he could communicate vision and missions and instructions effectively,” said Rachel Jones, a minister in Fort Worth. 

In addition to networking and gleaning wisdom from state-wide leaders, the cohort also studied leadership practices and each member conducted their own leadership project during the course of the year. 

For his personal project, Bryant Lee, a church planter from Houston, worked with Texas Baptists’ bivocational ministry to create a new fellowship for bivocational ministers in Houston. The fellowship involved 12-15 ministers who began to meet monthly and served to be a pilot project which is now being duplicated in other regions around the state. 

“I was awestruck … the more people I talked to, the more leaders I was introduced to, the more I was able to see the bigger picture and how that played a part in my church,” said cohort member Lynn Harper. 

Cohort members included: Debra Blake, director of student services, Dallas Baptist University; David Cook, director of Master of Arts in Leadership Program, Dallas Baptist University; Carlos Francis, youth pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield; Carlos Garduno, associate pastor, Tilden Baptist Church, Tilden; Lynn Harper, senior pastor, Promised Land Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas; Rachel Jones, minister of music and children, Haltom Road Baptist Church in Fort Worth; Bryant Lee, pastor, Higher Expectations Baptist Church in Humble; Joshua Minatrea, interim director of Communications, Texas Baptists; Ronald Session, pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church in Garland; and Meagan Stewart, ministry assistant for Church Starting, Texas Baptists. 

Applications are now being accepted until June 15 for Leadership Texas Baptists Cohort II, which will begin in September 2016. For more information, contact David Adams at or (214) 828-5253. 

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