Georgia Pastor and Former SBC President Bryant Wright Announces Retirement from Church

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church senior pastor Bryant Wright, joined by his wife Anne, talks about the journey that led to his announcing Sunday, Nov. 25 of the beginning of the search process for his successor. Wright, former Southern Baptist Convention president, has been the only pastor at the church, which began in 1981 in an Atlanta doctor’s office. JFBC/Screen grab

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church senior pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright announced from the pulpit Sunday morning (Nov. 25) that it’s time for the church to begin the search for its next pastor.

Wright made the announcement toward the end of a sermon titled “Succession of a Long-Tenured Leader,” about Moses and Joshua based out of Numbers 27:15-23.

“It will be our last great challenge in ministry together,” Wright told the congregation in Marietta, Ga. He later noted that more information would be coming in a video from him and his wife Anne that day entitled “Johnson Ferry’s Next Big Challenge.”

The 66-year-old remains in good health (he finished the Thanksgiving Day Atlanta Half Marathon in 1:57). Still, in the video he focused on the need for leadership that can identify with other generations in a way he can’t.

Finding a clear vision

Wright cited a need for Johnson Ferry finding a younger pastor with “a clear vision for the future.”

That pastor, he added, needs to “represent a younger generation, be it Gen X or Millennials, to better communicate with the generations to come.”

Leading up to his decision, Wright sought counsel from other pastors in similar situations who had led churches for an extended amount of time. A key finding was reaching a point where you still loved that church and preaching, but nevertheless found difficulty in gauging the church’s next step.

“As a pastor you hope that you’ve been faithful in administering the Gospel, preaching the word to your generation,” he said. “But we know, in reality if we have the right outlook about the church, every pastor is an interim pastor. God allows us to be here for a season … to hopefully lead the church … in carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.”

In a phone call with the Christian Index, Wright talked about “10 big things” God had given him following a 2012 sabbatical on which Johnson Ferry should focus over the next decade.

“By the beginning of this year, all but one of those had been fulfilled,” he said. “I prayed and didn’t received a fresh vision for the church beyond that.

“I think every pastor needs a fresh vision for the future. It’s time for a younger man to be in this role.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Baptist Press, Scott Barkley