With all the focus on the Southern Baptist Convention’s presidential election, the office of First Vice-President is important for reasons that may not be obvious. The First VP steps in if unforeseen events cause the President to be unable to serve, and that reason alone makes the election important. However, the nomination of Dr. Anthony Dockery for this role is particularly important. The reason? Whoever is elected President will need someone of the character and background of Dr. Dockery to provide vitally important counsel.
Dr. Dockery has the heart of a man willing to put his life on the line serving our country in the United States Air Force. As a pilot flying over war zones, he and his crew worked as a team to provide air support in some of the harshest places in the world. A 21 year career in the Air Force and the California Air National Guard forged into him the absolute necessity of teamwork and cooperation. He knows how to be a good team member, and he has years of team leadership in a life and death environment.
As a pastor, he has led the St. Stephen Baptist Church in La Puente, California (greater Los Angeles) since 2008. The church is one of the longest tenured African American SBC churches in California with deep connections to our shared mission. He is a soul-winner; he preaches the inerrant Word of God. St. Stephen is on mission among the 18 million people of greater Los Angeles along with mission partnerships through our IMB across the planet. Dr. Dockery loves and cares for his people, and leads his church family to be genuine disciples of Jesus Christ in an environment that is often hostile. Among California Baptists, Anthony Dockery is a trusted and wise leader. Because of his Christ-like leadership, he was named board chairman for the California Baptist University.
What you will not see of Anthony Dockery, however, is a focus on denominational politics. He humbly and faithfully serves as a pastor within the greater family of Great Commission Baptists. So why would he be ideally suited to assist the new SBC President? For all the reasons above and one more. The new President needs the kind, Christ-centered wisdom that Anthony Dockery provides. With so many of our African American church leaders wondering whether we are committed to bridging the divide along racial lines, Dr. Dockery’s faithful and grace-filled leadership represents exactly the kind of Vice-President our new President needs to lean on.
Marshall Blalock is pastor of First Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina.