Southern Baptist Convention pastor, Roger Spradlin, who was a key figure in crafting the influential 2000 Baptist Faith & Message, passed away at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer.
His death was announced following a statement from his family on Sunday. This statement was confirmed by Valley Baptist Church of Bakersfield, California, a congregation that Spradlin co-founded in 1985 and served as co-senior pastor until February.
In the statement, Spradlin’s family shared their journey of both joy and suffering in the past year, but emphasized the merciful response to their prayers. “While we had some really great moments this past year, it was also filled with a lot of suffering. But God was merciful and answered our prayers as Pastor Roger has been at such peace and in such comfort over the last several weeks,” the family stated. They mentioned that Spradlin passed away peacefully and comfortably with his wife Virginia, of 46 years, and some family members by his side. Although deeply mourning their loss, they also rejoiced in the knowledge that he is now in heaven with their Savior and loved ones who have gone before him. Spradlin leaves behind three children and ten grandchildren.
Richard Land, president emeritus of Southern Evangelical Seminary and executive editor of The Christian Post, remembered Spradlin as a devoted student during his time at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. Land described Spradlin as someone who was always serious about his studies and deeply dedicated to his calling. He expressed his condolences to the Spradlin family and took comfort in knowing that Roger Spradlin is now in the presence of his Savior.
Born in 1955, Spradlin embarked on a path of education and service in the Southern Baptist Convention. He graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1977, obtained a master’s degree in biblical studies from Criswell College in 1983, and later received a doctor of ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2002.
Throughout his career, Spradlin held various leadership positions within the SBC. He served as the chairman of the SBC Executive Committee from 2010 to 2012, chairman of SBTS’ board of trustees from 1999 to 2001, and president of the California Southern Baptist Convention from 1997 to 1999, according to reports from Baptist Press.
One of his notable contributions was serving on the 15-member committee that drafted the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. This document was adopted by messengers at the 2000 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. However, it has recently sparked controversy due to its stance on limiting the pastoral office to men as qualified by Scripture.
In a significant development, messengers at the SBC Annual Meeting voted overwhelmingly in June to affirm the removal of the prominent California-based megachurch, Saddleback Church, from SBC membership. This decision was driven by Saddleback Church’s violation of the Faith and Message’s statement regarding the pastoral role being limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
In October of the previous year, Roger Spradlin was diagnosed with inoperable bile duct cancer. This diagnosis played a pivotal role in his decision to retire from ministry in February of this year.
Upon his retirement, Spradlin’s son, Andrew, stepped into the role of co-senior pastor at Valley Baptist Church, alongside Brian Busby. During the inauguration of the new lead pastors, Spradlin delivered an emotional message, emphasizing the church’s mission to reach those who are not yet part of their congregation.
“We’ve got a lot of people here tonight,” Spradlin shared, fighting back tears, “But our city is filled with broken people that aren’t here tonight. They’re not in anyone’s church. They’re living lives of desperation.” He went on to express his conviction that their church exists for those people, waiting for someone to invite them and change their lives forever.
Roger Spradlin’s impact on the Southern Baptist Convention and the faith community shows his dedication and contributions to his calling. His passing is a loss that will be deeply felt, but his legacy will continue to inspire and shape the future of his church and the broader Baptist community.