Bob McCartney selected to lead First Baptist Church
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 15, 2004 -- With a unanimous vote Sunday night, the membership of First Baptist Church welcomed its new pastor, Bob McCartney, a former Sulphur Springs resident.

McCartney, who has been pastor at Grawood Baptist Church in Shreveport, La. for the last 91�2 years, will officially take the reins at the local church the first Sunday in January.

Minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs from 1992-95, McCartney and his wife, Mary Anne, are "excited about coming back," he said.

"We found Sulphur Springs to be a great place to live," said McCartney, 40. "We really enjoyed the people we met and the atmosphere of the town.

"First Baptist Church of Sulphur Springs has a wonderful reputation across the Southwest. There are some giants in the Baptist life who have led that church, and I'm complimented to even be considered for that position."

He has been at Grawood Baptist since 1995, and the church has more than tripled in size under his leadership. Grawood ran less than 200 in Sunday School and worship service when he arrived in 1995, and now it regularly has about 500 in Bible study and 600 in the worship service.

He will succeed David Hardage, who resigned the last week of January to take another job in Waco. FBC named a five-person search committee the following month.

The committee narrowed its final recommendation to McCartney after a seven-month search that included trips virtually every Sunday to hear preachers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and even Virginia.

Deacon chairman and search committee member James Litzler said the committee members heard literally hundreds of candidates either in person, on DVD or video/audio tapes, but McCartney stood out.

"I'm really excited about his coming," said Litzler. "I think he's going to be able to relate to all age groups in the church. I believe he'll be very accessible.

"I think Bob will be good not only for the church, but for the whole community," he said.

McCartney grew up in Tennessee and received his bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He planned on becoming a lawyer and entering the political field before a personal tragedy changed his life's direction.

When he was 22-year-old, his wife of 24 days, Lisa, was killed in a car wreck.

"That was a turning point in my life," he said of the 1987 accident. "By God's grace, I came through that with the understanding that God had a distinct plan for me, and that was to be a pastor."

He then went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where he received his doctorate, while living with his cousin in Frisco. That's where he met his current wife, Mary Anne, who was the baby sitter for his cousin's children, and they were married in 1991.

For three years, he preached at Lebanon Baptist Church in Frisco before taking the position at Calvary Baptist.

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