By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
When John Thweatt was elected president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in November 2016, one of the biggest things on his heart was the next generation.
So as he traveled the state this year, it came as no surprise that his biggest encouragement came from visiting with college students.
“It is amazing to see what God is doing on our college campuses,” said Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City.
When he preached at University of Mobile’s chapel, it was standing room only, with students packed in for worship.
‘Heart for worship’
“They led the worship and were so engaged in the Word of God,” Thweatt said. “It was so encouraging to see students with a heart for worship like that.”
He saw that encouragement repeated when he visited and spoke at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, at the Baptist Campus Ministries of Jacksonville State University and at Judson College in Marion.
“At Judson, just getting to sit around with the young ladies and hear about their summer missions was exciting,” Thweatt said. “They are so devoted and passionate about getting the gospel to the nations.”
That enthusiasm carried over as he and Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, met with groups of young pastors in different areas of the state.
“They were in the 35 or younger range, and we just got to meet with them, talk with them and hear their hearts,” Thweatt said. “It’s been my heart to try to involve younger pastors, and to see the heart they have for missions and for our state was so encouraging.”
Thweatt said it has also been encouraging to see the faithfulness of state missionaries and entity leaders up close and personal.
“It has been a good reminder of just how blessed we are as a state to have the leadership that we have,” he said. “The passion and excellence with which they carry out their work is wonderful.”
Lance said Thweatt’s leadership role has been crucial this year in the meetings that state leaders have walked through.
“John Thweatt has epitomized what we have come to know as servant leadership,” Lance said. “I will forever be grateful to him for his wisdom and his wit during times of deliberation and discussion. All Alabama Baptists can be proud of John Thweatt as our convention president.”
Thweatt said it’s been a “real privilege” to represent state Baptists this year as their convention president.
“I’m so grateful for the ways I’ve gotten to see God work and for the relationships I’ve been able to build,” he said. “I run into pastor after pastor that I’ve gotten to know through these meetings, and I’m so grateful to have gotten that opportunity.”
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