Chitwood awarded alumnus of the year at annual SBTS luncheon
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented Kentucky Baptist leader Paul Chitwood with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award at the seminary’s June 17 alumni luncheon during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Columbus, Ohio.
“In his public life and in his private life, in his role as a denominational statesman and his role as a pastor, in his role as an alumnus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paul Chitwood has brought great pride to this institution,” Mohler said. “I can’t tell you how much easier it is for Southern Seminary to communicate how important state conventions are when students in Louisville, Kentucky, get to see a state convention like the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the kind of leadership that Dr. Paul Chitwood has brought.”
Chitwood, who graduated with his M.Div. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) from Southern Seminary, serves as the executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He also served as KBC president (2005-06) and chairman of the board for the International Mission Board (2008-10), and is a former assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Seminary.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition from my alma mater,” Chitwood said in a statement. “My years in the classroom as both a student and professor at Southern Seminary have tremendously impacted my life and ministry. I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay to SBTS and all who have supported and served her. I also thank God for the sacrificial giving of Southern Baptists, both through the Cooperative Program and private gifts, that have allowed me and countless others to have the privilege of preparing for ministry at our flagship seminary."
A native of Jellico, Tennessee, Chitwood pastored Kentucky Baptist churches for nearly 20 years before assuming the role of KBC executive director in 2012. During a reorganization of the KBC in 2012, Chitwood created a church consulting and revitalization team out of his desire to promote church revitalization along with church planting. The team also includes a group of five consultants living and serving in different geographical regions of the state, whose primary ministry focus is assisting pastors with revitalization efforts.
Chitwood’s emphasis on church revitalization may explain why KBC churches — contrary to national trends — have added new members the last three years: 27,694 in 2012 and 26,572 in 2013 and 26,222 in 2014.
Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Seminary, was the first KBC president to serve a full term with Chitwood as executive director.
“Having someone like Dr. Chitwood who is consistently calling our attention back to the Great Commission, the Great Commandment, proclaiming the gospel, I think that’s the kind of thing that hopefully motivates and inspires pastors and others to be about the task that matters,” Greenway said.
Erin Roach contributed to this report.