West Louisville pastor receives Francisco Preaching Award at SBTS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The comfort of Scripture and promises of God are necessary to sustain pastors through the trials of ministry, said Larry Sykes Jr., Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award recipient, during an April 27 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The difficulties you may face in ministry may be so daunting they may make you question God’s choice to even call you and send you at all,” said Sykes, pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood. “You are going to go out of here and minister to a culture that is dilapidated and decaying. ... You can take comfort in Scripture.”
Preaching from 1 Timothy 1, Sykes used Paul’s counsel to Timothy as a case study for grace and mercy in the mission field. Timothy was preaching in Ephesus — an affluent and polytheistic city bustling with decadent culture and pride. Adding to Timothy’s problems were members of his own congregation questioning his authority as a young man. While Christians today may find themselves in similarly difficult circumstances, Sykes said Paul’s message is to lean on God’s strength and mercy.
“Sometimes in ministry it will appear as though there is obstacle after obstacle to rob you of joy and make you doubt God’s trust in you to do his ministry. Obstacles will come to make you throw in the towel — to make you abandon your faith,” said Sykes. “In those moments you must be fully persuaded that the gospel is sufficient and that it is for salvation. You must be persuaded because sometimes in ministry that will be all you have to hold on to.”
According to Sykes, Christians’ understanding of the grace received from God should be the driving force for how they deliver grace and mercy to others, he said.
“Who better to tell them about mercy than the one who received mercy?” Sykes said. “God has extended to you mercy and grace. There may come a time when you must extend mercy and grace to someone else.”
Sykes, who will graduate with his Master of Divinity in May, has served as pastor of Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in west Louisville since 2011. Sykes was the church’s youngest pastor in its 113-year history. Sykes also served as co-president of Citizens of Louisville Organized United Together, a congregation-based justice ministry in which thousands of Louisville citizens and elected officials gather together. It is the largest gathering of citizens in Louisville each year to solve critical community problems. Sykes is also a a board member of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
The Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award is a scholarship and designation granted to a student enrolled in a master’s degree program at SBTS. The winner each year preaches in the final chapel of the spring semester.
The April 27 chapel service also marked the announcement of other awards for each of the three schools, in addition to overall awards.
School of Theology award recipients were: Ian Galloway, M.Div. student of Greenwood, South Carolina, the George W. Riggan Award for Distinction in Old Testament Studies; Ryan Johnson, M.Div. student of Quitman, Arkansas, the A.T. Robertson Award for Distinction in New Testament Studies; David Closson, M.Div. student of Orlando, Florida, the Basil Manly, Jr. Award for Distinction in Theological Studies; and Alex Daher, M.Div. student of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Garland Offutt Award for Distinction in Church Leadership.
Billy Graham School award recipients were: Cory Bledsoe, M.A. student of Kingsport, Tennessee, the Lewis A. Drummond Award for Distinction in Evangelism; Tyler Morehart, M.Div. student of Fort Smith, Arkansas, the Adoniram Judson Award for Distinction in Missions; and Kokang Elliot Lee, M.A. student of Norman, Oklahoma, the Ellis Adams Fuller Award for Distinction in Church Ministry.
Boyce College award recipients were: Mackenzie Miller, B.A. student Jeffersonville, Indiana, the James P. Boyce Outstanding Graduate Award; Seth Singleton, B.S. student of Little Rock, Arkansas, the E.Y. Mullins Award for Distinction in Ministry Involvement; and Jessica Anderson, B.S. student of West Bend, Wisconsin, the George Liele Award for Distinction in Missions & Evangelism.
Overall awards were presented to: Sykes, M.Div. student of Kankakee, Illinois, the Clyde T. Francisco Award; Joshua McCullers, M.Div. student of Jensen Beach, Florida, the Broadman and Holman Outstanding Seminarian Award; Jamie Southcombe, M.Div. student of Guildford, Surrey, England, the Westminster John Knox Press Preaching Award; and Elias Coye Still IV, M.Div. student of Harrisburg, North Carolina, the The LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award.
Audio and video of the chapel message are available at equip.sbts.edu/chapel.