Anderson University honors 4 with Pastor of the Year awards

Anderson University presented its annual Pastor of the Year awards Monday evening, Nov. 12, at the 2018 South Carolina Baptist Pastors Conference.

The awards serve to recognize “the unique high calling of the pastorate,” according to an AU news release.

The South Carolina Baptist Pastor of the Year award was established by AU in 2011 to honor “outstanding pastors based on the following criteria: having served in the South Carolina Baptist Convention for at least three years; having been a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program; and having been a model of pastoral faithfulness and integrity.”

The awards, divided into four categories, were presented at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in North Charleston.

The John E. White Award (churches up to 350 members) went to Ronny Byrd, pastor of Palmetto Shores Baptist Church in Waccamaw Association. Palmetto Shores is 11 years old and has planted three churches and one “granddaughter” church. Byrd served the SCBC as a regional facilitator for the Next Step Leader Development Process. The focus of his ministry is one-on-one discipleship with men. “I am excited about coaching and mentoring younger pastors who desire to take their next step in leadership development,” said Byrd.

The John Edward Rouse Award (churches 350 to 1,000 members) went to David Blizzard, pastor of Oakdale Baptist Church in Saluda Association (Anderson area). The church has gone through four building projects, including a new auditorium built in 2010. The average worship attendance has grown from 80 in 1985 to 379 today. Perhaps most strategically, the Oakdale campus is near Townville Elementary School, which endured a tragic deadly shooting in 2016. Blizzard and Oakdale were instrumental in helping the school, the community and emergency responders deal with the trauma of that tragedy. Blizzard likes to quote Major W. Ian Thomas, who said, “Lord Jesus, I can’t — You never said I could — but You can, and always said You would.”

The W.B. Johnson Award (churches over 1,000 members) went to Wayne Bray, pastor of Simpsonville First Baptist Church in Greenville Association. Simpsonville First is a multigenerational, missional, multisite church. This year the church had 310 church members of all ages mobilized on 27 mission trips to six countries around the world. Nearly three-fourths of their weekly worshipers also attend a small group each week. “The only hope for a world turned upside down is a church turned inside out,” said Bray.

The B. Carlisle Driggers Award for directors of missions went to David Shirley, DOM in Beaverdam Association. Shirley led in restructuring the association with a goal of making it more missionally focused and purposefully relevant to the churches.  While serving as DOM, he planted a church in 2014 (Church at the Well) specifically targeting unreached residents in Seneca’s multihousing communities, mobile home communities, and abandoned mill communities. Since 2015, The Well has baptized 22 people and now averages 70 people per service — most of whom have never been a part of a church family. “One of the greatest blessings I receive from serving as a director of missions is being able to be an encouragement to pastors and a resource/consultant to churches,” said Shirley.

LifeWay Christian Resources and the National Conference on Preaching partnered to contribute gifts to award recipients.