Editor’s Note: Each of the speakers for this year’s SBC Pastor’s Conference in Phoenix, AZ was nominated by someone. I have asked each speaker’s nominator to answer a few questions about the person they nominated. Chris Davis of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA was nominated by Jamie Cartledge. Below are Jamie’s responses to the questions I sent him.
How do you know Chris?
In August of 1990, the fall of my 7th grade year, I began attending a Christian school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Knowing no one in my class going in, I went about the process of getting to know my classmates and hoping that some would develop into friendships. Mathematical acumen, love for baseball, and a poor excuse for a “Stupid Human Trick” were the right recipe to start my friendship with Chris Davis. It probably looked a lot like most Middle School friendships initially and certainly didn’t immediately portend all that would come. The following spring my mother passed away after a multi-year battle with breast cancer. That type of event in the life of someone so young serves to purge a lot of insignificant things from your life. My friendship with Chris was not one of those things and grew in depth very quickly. We continued through Middle and High School and, along with a couple of other friends, Proverbs 27:17 came alive to me. At our school’s ‘See You at the Pole’ rally the fall of our senior year, Chris was asked to share a devotional. That was the moment when I felt that I knew God was going to call Chris to the ministry. Amusingly, later that day when I told him he was going to be a pastor he vehemently denied that would be the case. It would appear that this, along with the argument regarding whether Albert Belle or Ken Griffey Jr. was the better baseball player, would be times that I was right and he was wrong. Our lives diverged as we left for college, but our relationship never did. I was a long-distance partner, through prayer and conversation, in his ministries from the hills of West Virginia working in a town with a rampant drug culture to Minneapolis where he lived in an area with a myriad of Somali immigrants and refugees. During those years we were a part of each other’s weddings and began developing our family friendships. It’s truly an honor and a blessing to call Chris my friend. It’s an even greater blessing that our families can call each other friends.
Why did you nominate Chris to preach at the Pastor’s Conference?
Now why did I nominate Chris to preach during the Pastor’s conference? Truthfully, it wasn’t because we’ve been close friends for years. It truly boiled down to the vision for the Pastor’s Conference this year and the fact that if I were in Alexandria, Chris would be my pastor. I was talking with one of the Pastor’s Conference planning team members and he shared their vision for what they wanted from the speakers and Chris’ name quickly came to mind. Chris is a dynamic expository preacher with perspectives that I believe are extremely valuable to the Church in America. Along with his work in West Virginia and Minneapolis, he’s been a pastor in Phoenix, AZ and last year moved to the greater Washington DC area in Alexandria, VA. He has continually served in diverse congregations, which is especially important to him as the father of a diverse family. He and his wife, Rachael, have 4 children. One is bi-racial, two are African-American twin boys, and their youngest is Caucasian. I often say that their family picture is one of the better examples of what heaven looks like. Chris’ diligence in his study of the Word is something that I’ve seen up close and he has the ability to share the gospel in a way that seminary professors and brand new believers can both come out with understanding and being well fed. Finally, I wouldn’t nominate Chris if he was just a good “preacher”. He is a flawed, imperfect man who knows it and doesn’t attempt to put up a façade. He is as genuine as anyone I know and has an uncanny ability to build relationships with almost anyone regardless of socio-economic standing, spiritual or political beliefs, or history. That’s the model that Christ set for us, and I believe that’s what Chris attempts to model for his family and his church.
And yes, I’m very much looking forward to listening to him preach in Phoenix.