John Avant, vice president of evangelization at the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, accepted a call April 22 to be pastor of First Baptist Church in West Monroe.
WEST MONROE – John Avant, vice president of evangelization at the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, accepted a call April 22 to be pastor of First Baptist Church in West Monroe.
More than 3,500 people attended the Sunday morning service in which Avant preached a trial sermon and was voted on “overwhelmingly” by members to be their pastor, said Sue Green, pastor’s secretary for 27 years and a longtime member of the church.
“There was lots and lots of excitement in the crowd,” Green said. “We called him; he’s accepted.”
Married to Donna Duniven Avant since 1980 and father to two daughters and a son, Avant was licensed to the gospel ministry at First Baptist Hendersonville, N.C. He graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an MDiv degree in 1986 and a Ph.D. degree in evangelism and missiology in 1990.
Avant’s earliest vocational ministry experience was as an associate pastor at First Baptist, Lancaster, Ohio. During seminary years he pastored in Gatesville, Cleburne and Richardson, all Texas towns. He was called in 1992 to pastor Coggin Avenue Baptist in Brownwood, Texas, and in 1996 to New Hope Baptist in Fayetteville, Ga., before accepting a call to NAMB in 2005.
“I have found myself praying for you and thinking about you many times over the past months,” Avant wrote in his first letter to the congregation, which like the announcement of his calling is posted to the church website: www.firstwest.cc.
“There is something about you that just won my heart,” Avant wrote.
First West Monroe has been without a senior pastor for 23 months, since David Uth was called to First Baptist Orlando, Fla.