Skip to main content

Mississippi Baptists Elect New Leader

Mississippi Baptists headed home Wednesday with a new leader, the Rev. Mickey Dalrymple, a Columbus pastor, elected president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

"It's been a sweet convention," Dalrymple said Wednesday morning at the organization's 172nd annual session in downtown Jackson. "I want to keep it that way."

Dalrymple, 63, is pastor at the 1,700 member Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus and former pastor of churches in Alabama. He's got ties to Mississippi College. His daughter, Julie, graduated from MC in the 1990s, received her master's degree at Mississippi State University and now teaches at East Mississippi Community College. Several members of his church in Northeast Mississippi are current MC students, he noted.

As the new leader of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, Darymple said he will continue to emphasize programs to help with the Hurricane Katrina recovery in south Mississippi two years after the powerful storm battered the region. At his church alone, members have taken 100 trips to the Gulf Coast to aid Katrina victims and help with rebuilding. Strong winds from the hurricane also destroyed the Mississippi Baptists' Henderson Point/Gulf Shores, Ala. conference facility.

Reports at the two-day conference at First Baptist Church show $12.1 million has come through the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board to help with church support and church rebuilding efforts in the two post-Katrina years. Another $7 million has come through the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board for home restoration and rebuilding.

Dalrymple received a master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1975. He received a bachelor's degree from Athens College in Athens, Alabama in 1971.

Handed the gavel Wednesday, Dalrymple was unopposed on the ballot and succeeds the Rev. Clarence Cooper as president, said Baptist Record editor William Perkins, whose newspaper kept tabs on conference highlights. A graduate of Blue Mountain College and a Spartanburg, S.C. native, Cooper has served as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Grenada since 1985.Cooper didn't leave the proceedings at First Baptist Church in Jackson empty-handed. He was given a LifeWay study Bible as a going away present. "I'd not want to serve in any other state," Cooper said to thank convention-goers.

Wednesday's final day saw introductions of three leaders of Baptist higher education in Mississippi. They are: Mississippi College President Lee Royce, Blue Mountain President Bettye Coward and William Carey University President Tommy King. Coward is a former MC vice president. At a breakfast meeting Tuesday morning at the convention, Royce spoke of the enrollment growth at MC. Numbers have steadily climbed from 3,200 students when he arrived in 2002 to more than 4,600 students this fall. "Things have gone exceedingly well," the MC president said.

MC student nurses stayed busy at the convention by assisting with health screenings for scores of visitors at the church off North State Street.

Among the featured speakers at the convention were longtime Southern Baptist evangelist Junior Hill, who has served as a pastor in Alabama and Mississippi before entering evangelism in 1967. Also speaking: the Rev. Gary Richardson, pastor of North Oxford Baptist Church in Oxford. After 19 years in business, God called Richardson into full-time ministry.

Richardson received a bachelor's degree from Mississippi College and master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently, he serves as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

PHOTO: Dalrymple