Faithful: Pastors' Conference theme addresses burnout

By Chip Hutcheson

Published: October 1, 2020

When Dan Summerlin was elected president of the KBC Pastors' Conference last November, he immediately found himself behind schedule for the Nov. 9, 2020 event in Owensboro.

Kenny Rager was elected in 2019 to be president for the 2020 conference, but had to step down when he accepted a position with KBC. That necessitated electing two men last year to serve as conference presidents for 2020 and 2021. Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist and past president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (2012-13), wasted no time in establishing the theme of "Faithful."

Speakers and their topics are:

Dan Summerlin (center), 2020 Pastors' Conference president

Willie McLaurin, Faithful to the Master

Tony Rose, Faithful to Mental Health

Hershael York, Faithful to Your Marriage

Michael Catt, Faithful to Ministry

Mark Swadley from Lone Oak First Baptist will lead the music.

"We are seeing the greatest burnout in ministry in history," Summerlin noted. "And there may be even more burnout ahead. It is alarming how many are entering ministry but not staying until retirement," he said in explaining the theme.

"We want to encourage pastors because there are so many factors that make it tough. No one understands that except pastors."

McLaurin is vice president for Great Commission Relations and Mobilization with the SBC Executive Committee. Before beginning his role in January 2020, McLaurin served as special assistant to the executive director at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

"Willie is a highly relational, disciplined, gifted and growing leader," said Ronnie Floyd, EC president and CEO. "At 46 years of age, he is a powerful preacher that inspires people to follow Christ passionately. Willie loves people, and it is more than evident when you are around him." McLaurin authored the book Which Race Are You Running? Keeping Life in Perspective and is the co-chair of the Southern Baptist Convention Second Chair Network.

In Baptist life, McLaurin served on the SBC Resolutions Committee in 2018 and as president of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network in 2011-2012. He also was on the executive board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention from 2003-2005 and was the inaugural president of the African American Fellowship of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

Rose retired as pastor of LaGrange Baptist Church after serving there for 26 years. He is a former chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Mental Health Advisory Board (2014-2015) and is founder of Relational Leadership.

In a 2014 Western Recorder interview, Rose elaborated on the need for applying the gospel to the arena of mental health. He noted that some Christians don't understand the varied causes and remedies for mental disturbances.

"From my 26 years of pastoral ministry, I have learned that Christians are not immune to mental illness. I have seen almost the entire spectrum of mental and emotional issues among the precious people of God whom I have been privileged to serve. Depression, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies and actual suicides, cutting — and the list could go on," Rose said.

Catt has served as senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., since 1989. The church has 3,000 members and has averaged 100 baptisms each year. The church has changed from a neighborhood church to a regional, multi-ethnic congregation with members from 11 nations. Sherwood has two campuses covering 100-plus acres — the main church campus and the upper school campus and sports park.

Catt was executive producer of Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous. He has authored numerous books, including the best-selling Fireproof Your Life and Prepare for Rain. He served as president of the Large Church Roundtable for 2018-19. He was president of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference, representing over 42,000 churches.

He has served the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB trustee, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention's Preaching Conference and vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention. He is recipient of the Martin Luther King Award and MLK Unity Award.

York has served as pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort since 2003. He led the 200-year-old church in growth that necessitated relocation to a 100-acre campus and new facilities. York frequently ministers internationally, especially in Brazil, where his father was a missionary.

York has served as the 11th dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's School of Theology since 2018, and as the Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching since 1999.

Since coming to Southern in 1997, York has authored two books on speaking and preaching and written dozens of articles in journals and online publications. His preaching has been featured in Preaching Today as among the best in North America, and he has twice preached at the International Congress on preaching in Cambridge, England. He served as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 2005, and has served as a trustee on the International Mission Board.

His wife, Tanya, currently serves as a trustee on the North American Mission Board. She has spoken at numerous women's conferences.