S.C. pastor D.J. Horton to be nominated for SBC Pastors Conference president

A Spartanburg-area pastor will be nominated to serve as president of the 2025 Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference.

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, told The Courier Feb. 29 that he intends to nominate D.J. Horton, senior pastor of Church at The Mill in Moore, during this year’s conference in Indianapolis.

Luter said he is nominating Horton, who spoke at last year’s conference, because “he has proven through his church, through his preaching, through outreach, that he’s a pastor that other pastors can learn from. He’s a pastor that believes in pastors and churches.

“I believe D.J. can really make a difference and an impact,” Luter said. “He’s one who has a love for God, has a love for God’s Word, and there’s a love for preachers — and he’s shown that all through the years.”

Raised in an Alabama pastor’s home, Horton earned a B.S. degree from Auburn University, where he was a member of the Tigers football team. He received an M.Div. in Expository Preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. in Biblical Exposition from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Horton has led “incredibly well” at Church at The Mill since 2004, and their engagement in lostness is a leader among the state convention’s 2,013 churches, according to Lee Clamp, associate executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

“They have grown in baptisms, from 25 baptisms in 2006 to now having 210 baptisms in 2022 and 154 in 2023,” Clamp noted. “They have baptized more than 1,000 people over the last 12 years,” placing Church at The Mill consistently among the state’s top 5 baptizing churches, he added.

Under Horton’s leadership and commitment to expositional preaching, Church at The Mill has experienced remarkable growth — from 600 in 2004 to more than 4,000 members across three campuses today. The church recently completed a new worship center at its Central Campus and has established additional campuses in Woodruff and Lake Cooley, attesting to his strategic vision to plant healthy churches with preaching pastors focused on the gospel.

He served as president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 2014. He also has served on the SCBC Executive Board and its Committee on Committees, and he was chairman of the SCBC Sexual Abuse Task Force (2022-2023). He has been a trustee with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (2010-2021) and currently is a trustee of Charleston Southern University.

In a statement for The Courier, Horton said that it is humbling even to be approached for such an important opportunity to serve as president of the national conference.

“Having served my church for 20 years, and now as a 46-year-old pastor, I have become deeply convicted to leverage some of my time encouraging other pastors,” he said. “Any measure of faithfulness or success I have experienced is due largely to the godly men who have poured into me,” he said.

Horton noted that his friend and mentor, Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, had been diagnosed recently with brain cancer. “Watching my mentor enter this battle reinforced the motivation in my heart for more of us to believe in one another and to share any knowledge, wisdom, and lessons we may have gained along the way,” he said.

And, if elected, Horton said, his aim would be to foster a conference where pastors and leaders are “loved, encouraged, and challenged through dynamic, Spirit-led, Christ-centered exposition.”

Horton is the second announced candidate for president of the 2025 Pastors Conference in Dallas. Georgia pastor Brad Whitt, who served at Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, S.C., for 10 years, will also be nominated during the June 11-12 meeting at the Indiana Convention Center.