Lineberger nominated to lead BGCT
___By Marv Knox
___Phil Lineberger, pastor of Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugar Land and a former president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, has been nominated to be the next executive director of the convention.
___The BGCT Executive Board will consider Lineberger's nomination in a called meeting Sept. 14 in Dallas. If elected, he will succeed Bill Pinson, executive director since 1983,
who will retire Jan. 31, 2000.
___"I'm very humbled, and I'm looking forward to the challenge that's out there," Lineberger said last week of his possible election. "I'm very excited. I appreciate the confidence of the committee.
___"I have great love for Texas Baptists. I look forward to what Texas Baptists can do in the future."
___Lineberger, 53, has been nominated by an 18-member search committee, which was selected by convention officers and the Executive Board.
___The committee chose Lineberger from a "very solid and eminent list of persons" who were recommended by Texas Baptists "from the Panhandle to deep South Texas, from the east to the west," reported committee Chairman Bill Brian, an attorney and member of First Baptist Church in Amarillo.
___The committee received more than 30 recommendations, carefully considered each recommendation and invited five candidates for interviews, Brian said. Four nominees accepted and were interviewed by the committee.
___Lineberger met with the committee for a total of six and one-half hours in three sessions, Brian added. "Following that time, we felt we wanted to vote, and by a clear majority, we elected to nominate Phil Lineberger."
___The committee determined not to release details of its vote, and Brian declined to state the specific vote count. However, the committee strongly feels Lineberger is the right person to lead Texas Baptists, he said.
___"We were led by Phil's known leadership in the convention--as a convention officer, an Executive Board member and a trustee of Texas Baptist institutions," he explained.
__"We are excited that a man of Phil's energy, love for Texas Baptist people and willingness to serve will come to this position and succeed a great leader."
___ As they considered Lineberger, the committee checked his references, asked those references for other references, and checked those, too, Brian said, noting those interviews and observations of Lineberger portrayed a committed, capable and engaging leader.
___People who have known and worked with Lineberger through the years, Brian reported, described him as "a consensus builder, warm, a person who sets goals and achieves them, kind but firm, a self-starter, not autocratic, not a high-control leader, but one who leads through good vision."
___"He's winsome and sociable. He's a people person, and people like him. He's got a great sense of humor and builds friendships. One person told us, 'He speaks the common language of the people but has a great knowledge of theology.' He's known as a great preacher."
___Lineberger's discipline stood out among references, Brian said. "He has strong work habits; he gets up early and works hard. He expects much of those who work with him."
___Although Texas Baptists have been divided politically, Brian expressed confidence Lineberger can work with people who might take an adversarial stance toward him or the convention.
___"Even those with whom Phil has disagreed would say he's fair," Brian said. "As (BGCT) president, he was inclusive in platform roles. Persons who were known to differ were allowed to participate on the platform at the annual meeting.
___The committee affirmed Lineberger's evangelistic spirit, Brian said, citing his church's 73 baptisms last year, a ratio of one baptism per 10 people in average attendance, much better than the Baptist norm. Just before one of their meetings, Lineberger led a 44-year-old engineer to faith in Christ, and his references noted he relates very well to laypeople.
___"Another of Phil's strengths is that he was a bivocational pastor for four years," Brian recounted. "He said one of the strengths of Texas Baptist life is its bivocational pastors."
___Lineberger impressed the committee with his observations on Texas Baptist life, Brian said.
___Acknowledging that denominational politics has divided the Southern Baptist Convention and many state conventions, Lineberger said he has tried to support "mainstream Baptist life." He told the search committee: "Texans are smart. People will not allow themselves to be coerced," Brian recalled.
___Lineberger also told the committee: "The best way to defend the faith is a life lived based on biblical principles. ... We must have as much grace in our hearts as truth in our heads."
___As a leader, Lineberger is a hands-on encourager, Brian said. "He believes in growth and being aggressive in growth. He believes in setting goals and working to attain them.
___"We believe he has the skills to lead Texas Baptists."
___Lineberger's wife, Brenda, also impressed the committee, Brian said. "She is very much a part of his ministry."
___In biographical material sent to the Executive Board, Lineberger stated his philosophy of ministry: "The church should be the most dynamic influence for good in any community. In order to accomplish this goal, every church member should be led to identify and use his or her spiritual gift. The church should lead out in evangelism and missions locally and worldwide. The church should function as a healthy family with love, ministry and compassion for every member. Preaching, teaching, evangelism, fellowship and ministry should be the thrust of the church."
___Lineberger became a Christian at age 10 in his hometown of Texarkana, Texas, after attending a revival led by longtime Texas evangelist Freddie Gage. He was ordained by Highland Park Baptist Church in Texarkana in 1968.
___Williams Trace has a resident membership of 1,152, according to the most recent BGCT Annual. The church averaged about 700 people in Sunday School attendance, Brian reported. It contributed $41,499 to world missions causes last year, including $27,805 to the Cooperative Program for Texas causes and $13,695 to the Cooperative Program for worldwide causes.
___In addition to his pastorate in Sugar Land, Lineberger has been pastor of First Baptist Church, Tyler; Richardson Heights Baptist Church, Richardson; Metropolitan Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; Calvary Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark.; and Calvary Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ark. He also was associate pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
___He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and also earned master's and doctor's degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
___Lineberger was president of the BGCT from 1989 to 1991 and vice president in 1988-89. He is a member of the BGCT Executive Board and a director of Associated Baptist Press. He was co-chair of Texas Baptists Committed in 1994.
___Phil and Brenda Lineberger have three adult daughters, Becky Lineberger Groves, married to Shawn Groves; Amy Lineberger Seay, married to Brian Seay and the mother of Olivia and Phillip; and Kathy Lineberger.
___Brian thanked Texas Baptists for the support the search committee has felt throughout its process.
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