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Sullivan honored for 25 years of leadership as state exec

By Margaret Colson

November 14, 2013


JACKSONVILLE—Described as a “man who walks with God,” John Sullivan was honored Nov. 11 during the annual meeting of the Florida Baptist State Convention for his 25 years of service as executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist State Convention.


He was recognized for his quarter century of service through a video retrospective highlighting his ministry of leading Florida Baptists to accomplish the Great Commission in the Sunshine State.


He is the ninth executive director to have served the State Board of Missions since 1880, and holds the distinction of having served the longest tenure.   


Reflecting on his relationship with the honoree, Tim Maynard, president of the Florida Convention and pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said, “John Sullivan is the man I look up to more than any other man.”


According to Marvin Pittman, president of Florida Baptists’ State Board of Missions, Sullivan’s tenure has been marked by a focus on three priorities: evangelism without apology, aggressive church starting and effective church and leadership development. 


Those three priorities have borne significant fruit among the churches during the past 25 years, highlighted on the video retrospective, including: approximately 780,000 baptisms; 2,500 new congregations; 14 mission partnerships; 385,000 Florida Baptist mission volunteers; approximately 40,000 disaster relief volunteers; and the establishment and expansion of theological education throughout the state.


Additionally, during the past 25 years, more than $670 million has been contributed by Florida Baptists through the Cooperative Program and $20.6 million to the Maguire State Mission Offering.


“John Sullivan does not believe he can effectively lead Florida Baptists from behind a desk in Jacksonville, and he has committed a majority of his calendar to being on the Florida mission field,” said Pittman.


During his service, Sullivan has preached in more than 1,650 Florida Baptist congregations, many on multiple occasions. 


Sullivan’s wife, Nancy, was also recognized by Pittman as a “supportive wife, helpmate, friend and ministry partner.”


During the video retrospective, Jerry Vines, pastor emeritus of Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church, said, “I was Dr. Sullivan’s pastor for several years. Through the years, he has encouraged; he has been a real friend to pastors in the state of Florida.”


According to Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, Sullivan’s significant influence extends beyond the boundaries of Florida.


“We love John Sullivan. He casts a shadow over all our state and nation.”


In recognition of his anniversary, Sullivan was presented with a service recognition pen as well as a policy-defined financial gift of $2,750. Because of her significant role in partnership with her husband, Sullivan’s wife was also presented with a special recognition gift valued at $2,750.


A reception was held following the Monday night session of the annual meeting, giving attendees opportunity to congratulate the executive director-treasurer and his wife.


In February 2014, the official month of his 25th anniversary, the State Board of Missions plans to hold a special dinner to honor the Sullivans.

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