It’s been a while since I’ve been in Mississippi, and especially Baptist life in the Magnolia state. For the most part, the state convention operates like Rip Van Winkle who hasn’t woke up to find out he’s in another time zone. The convention doesn’t acknowledge the “controversy” that has taken place and I keep wondering when the time will come for this to happen. I had good experiences in Mississippi, and made some lifelong ministry friends. Things changed in SBC life to the point that I was ready for another opportunity to serve a church who shared my convictions. I was grateful the Lord opened the door out of SBC life, but I am still appreciative of Baptist statesmen who made a profound contribution through their life and ministry.
Frank Pollard was one of those individuals. I’m saddened to hear of his death. No one in Mississippi Baptist life with any sense of decency would criticize Pollard, the longtime pastor of FBC Jackon, of using his position for political purposes. I recall one sermon he preached when he talked about being pressured to “get in the game” which was the Baptist phrase for the conservative resurgence of the SBC. Pollard said he responded to these Baptist leaders “I am in the game (preaching the gospel). You all are in the fight under the stands.” His church led the SBC in Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving year after year, without much fuss about it.
I met him only a few times but knew him by his reputation. Pollard deflected credit he received onto his staff and acknowledged he was the preacher but others served as the pastor. He was a man of great character and was one of those preachers I could listen to without getting distracted by long the sermon was versus how short my attention span was getting to be. I really enjoyed hearing him preach in that gentle, powerful tone. He had a great memory, and told great stories to illustrate powerful truths. I can still hear him recite “O The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. He led a great church, FBC Jackson, went to be president at Golden Gate Theological Seminary, and then returned to FBC Jackson. He taught preaching at Truett Seminary for a while after his retirement.
I appreciate Pollard for his wonderful spirit and pulpit presence, but wonder what would have happened had he been more vocal in his views during the heated denominational battles within the Convention. He could have made a significant difference in that arena. I would put him on a par with Adrian Rogers as far as a dynamic personality and gifted orator, but not with the strident fundamentalist tone. Pollard was well-loved, respected, and served as a great example for many pastors and preachers through the years. I am grateful to have heard him preach and observe his ministry through the years. There will be stories to come about him, but here is an occasion for his preaching that is worth reading.