Mississippi College

Baptist Leader Jim Futral Receives Honorary Doctorate at Mississippi College

May 12, 2014

A Baptist leader who’s preached with passion around the world, Jim Futral is in pretty exclusive company at Mississippi College.

During MC’s Spring 2014 commencement on May 10, Dr. Futral received an honorary doctor of divinity degree.

It marked the fourth honorary doctorate awarded in the past 11 years at the Baptist-affiliated university, President Lee Royce told commencement ceremonies that Saturday at the A.E. Wood Coliseum. Founded in 1826, Mississippi College awarded its first honorary degree in 1843.

Futral challenged the Class of 2014, family members and friends to make a difference, set high standards and let Jesus guide them. “You need to have integrity about your life,” he said.

While there are more than seven billion people on the planet, they are not just numbers, Futral said. They are capable of becoming world changers. “He (Jesus) will guide you. Let Him love you, day by day.”

In recent years, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received an honorary doctor of laws at the MC School of Law in 2003. Among others, former Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale and federal U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock of Mississippi were presented with honorary doctorates at the Christian university in 2008.

Dr. Futral’s pastoral and denominational experience is outstanding. He’s offered insightful leadership as executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, a post he’s held since 1998. He’s served as a pastor in Southern Baptist churches for 35 years, including 13 years at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Mississippi.

His parents are the late Rev. Guy Futral and Mary Sue Futral of Fort Smith, Arkansas. That’s where he was born near the Oklahoma border. But, just a few months later, the infant moved with his parents to Greenwood, Mississippi. He’s called the Magnolia State home ever since. He grew up in Clinton, but has lived in other cities, including Jackson, Oxford, Starkville and Gulfport.

Thousands of readers of “The Baptist Record,” the Mississippi Baptist Convention newspaper, look forward to reading Futral’s weekly column called “Directions.”

The Futral name carries many Mississippi College connections dating back to the 1940s, Royce said as he introduced the event’s guest speaker. His dad, Rev. Guy Futral, was a 1951 MC graduate. Dr. Jim Futral is one of five brothers, and several of them are MC alums. In addition, one of Jim’s three children, Rob Futral, is a Mississippi College graduate and senior pastor at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison.

A wonderful family man, Dr. Futral and his wife, the former Shirley Fay Moore of Bessemer, Alabama, are the parents of three children, Melodi McNair, Rob Futral and Mysti Chutz. They are proud of their eight grandchildren, Madi, Trea, Ridge, Rivers, Banks, Coleman, Mary Lamar and Clay.

Futral’s work as a servant of God began when he was called to preach at age 18. He’s preached around the globe, in much of the United States and in Mississippi’s 82 counties. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Blue Mountain College in north Mississippi in 1967, his master’s and doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Photo: Mississippi College Graduate School Dean Debbie Norris and Wayne VanHorn, dean of the MC School of Christian Studies & the Arts, present longtime Baptist leader Dr. Jim Futral with an honorary doctor of divinity degree at the university's Spring 2014 commencement. President Lee Royce looks on during the ceremony on May 10.

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