Transition Process Updates

March 14, 2021

On March 14th, First Baptist Church of Bradenton affirmed the Pastor Search Team’s recommendation for Dr. Luke Stockeland to become our new Lead Pastor.

Feb. 28, 2021

For almost a year, we have been seeking God as we seek our new pastor. With your support, through these many months, the Pastor Search Team has prayed, researched, evaluated, analyzed, followed proper procedures, considered the findings of the Transition Team and our church culture as well as traits the church members value most in their pastor. In unity, as a team, we moved forward in our search with a general profile for candidates that included certain education requirements, specific years of service in senior/lead pastoral leadership of a Southern Baptist congregation, biblically sound, local and internationally mission minded and relational – just to mention a few of the important characteristics we felt the church wanted and needed.

On February 28th the Pastor Search team presented Dr. Luke Stockeland as their unanimous submission for Lead Pastor candidate of First Bradenton. Read and watch more about him and his family below.

Read more about Dr. Luke Stockeland

Oct. 25, 2020

Our Pastor Search Team has narrowed their search to at least 6 candidates from over 150. They will now begin deeper interviews of each candidate in an effort to further narrow the search process. Please pray for these six men as well as the team as they prayerfully consider each of these candidates. Below are some specific ways you can pray during this time:

  1. Pray for the unity of the team.
  2. Pray for spiritual strength.
  3. Pray for the team to stand strong.
  4. Pray for them to seek Christ in the midst of the many distractions, challenges, and hardships they may face in their personal lives.
  5. Pray for their families.
  6. Pray for wisdom to find the pastor who best fits our church’s needs.
  7. Pray for endurance. It’s a great privilege to serve on a pastoral search team but it’s also very hard work.

Sept. 9, 2020

Our Pastor Search Team continues to meet regularly as part of the next phase in the search process. The August 31st deadline has passed and they are no longer taking resumes from potential candidates. The team received approximately 150 resumes from candidates and will be reducing this down to 20 quality possibilities. Followup with each of those individuals will begin soon. Please continue to pray for the team as God directs them to His will for us at First Bradenton.

July 23, 2020

Our Pastor Search Team has met several times and is faithfully working through the process of finding our next Senior Pastor. As part of the overall transition process we have also been moving with intention toward maintaining and supporting other ministry areas throughout the church. Check out this new update from the First Kids and First Students ministries.

July 5, 2020

In a short session at the beginning of the worship service, the Pastor Search Team read and agreed to the following covenant with the overall membership of First Bradenton. The church body also read and pledged a response in a commitment of prayer.

The Pastor Search Team Covenant

  • Trusting wholly in God’s grace, we humbly have accepted this sacred charge from the membership of First Baptist Church of Bradenton. You affirmed us last month and we have met consistently and prayerfully, preparing our selves spiritually for discovery of our next Senior Pastor.
  • We covenant to prepare our hearts in prayer and full surrender to seek God’s guidance and will.
  • We covenant to lay aside any personal agendas and seek only God’s perfect will and timing for this body of Christ, First Bradenton.
  • We covenant to work as a team with each opinion having equal value.
  • We covenant to cut no corners in prayer, study, distance or time in finding God’s perfect will and timing.
  • We covenant to do all within our power, yet lean wholly on the Lord, not our own understanding.
  • We covenant to trust God for the wisdom and guidance He has promised.  To Him be all glory and praise in His church!

The Church Body Prayer Covenant

  • Trusting wholly in God’s grace, we covenant to pray for you fervently, daily and specifically.
  • We covenant to pray the specific biblical prayers as God’s spirit directs our hearts.
  • We covenant to respect your sacred commission and support you in your work.
  • We covenant to let you do your work without manipulation or pressure.
  • We covenant to trust God to guide your deliberations, steps and timing for His will.
  • We covenant to guard the bond of peace to the glory of Jesus Christ in His Church.  To Him be all glory and praise in His Church!

June 7, 2020

The Transition Team held their final roundtable meeting with the church body and brought the results of its hard work toward transitioning our church forward for the mission of God. Discussed within this meeting were clear areas of focus for our church moving forward including our purpose, mission, target, and values. Below are highlights of this meeting.

  1. Building a Church Mission Statement
    • #LoveFirst: What does that look like for First Bradenton?
      • A loving church that serves the community
      • A church in which everyone is using their spiritual gifts to build the body
      • A place where all are welcomed and where unbelievers come to faith in Christ
    • #LoveFirst – Loving: How do we do this as a church?
      • Show God’s love to a hurting world by being his hands and feet – ACTION!
      • Bring the hope and light of Jesus to an increasingly dark world where we are and where God sends us
      • Be others centered
      • Claim power through prayer
      • Be Relational: Seek to build lasting relationships with other believers as well as non-believers
    • #LoveFirst – Loving People: Who are we willing to love?
      • Every man, woman, and child in Manatee County regardless of race, sexual preference, politics, or financial status
      • People living and working in the area, including new residents
      • Anyone who does not know Jesus or is not following him
      • Multiethnic, Multigenerational
      • Orphans/Widows/Elderly/Poor
    • #LoveFirst – Loving People: How are we willing to love?
      • Through small groups reaching out in times of need, focusing on where we are and need to be in relating to daily living
      • By welcoming people that make us uncomfortable: stepping out of our comfort zone
      • Leaders leading others
      • Equipping people to reach people within their influence
    • #LoveFirst – Loving People, Sharing Jesus: How are we willing to share Jesus Christ?
      • By sharing the Gospel to our unique context and to all the world by applying the truth of scripture in the way we live
      • In reaching out to disciple in small groups that meet whenever and wherever
      • By accepting change
      • By Power through prayer
      • Through encouraging discovery and use of spiritual gifts
      • In using buildings and resources the way God wants
      • By putting God first and trusting him for all things
      • Through making Jesus known by sharing all that he did and taught
      • By providing varied classes to share the words of the Bible with integrity
      • Through church planting
    • In Summation: Our Vision Statement moving forward is: LoveFirst: Loving People, Sharing Jesus

MAY 31, 2020

The Committee on Committees, working with Transitional Pastor Allen Speer, recommended 5 potential candidates for the Pastor Search Team and submitted them for congregational vote. In a called business session at the conclusion of the worship service the church voted for and accepted the Committee’s nominations. Please pray for each of these members and for the tasks that lay ahead of them.

Glenda Leonard
Personnel Committee Chair
Member Since 1983

Paige Morrison
First Kids, Palm Shores
Member Since 2006

John Little
Committee on Committees
Member Since 2016

Mike Golda
Transition Team, First Kids
Member Since 2015

Jerry Marlar
Finance Committee
Member Since 2017

FEBRUARY 20, 2020

Read the newest update from Pastor Allen.


JANUARY 26, 2020

The Transition Team held another roundtable gathering focused on the subjects of church governance and projections for the future of the transition period.  To see the handout from the gathering, click the link below.


DECEMBER 11, 2019

Pastor Allen and the transition team continue to meet and are excited about the upcoming new year and what God has in store for First Bradenton. Here is an update from Pastor Allen:


OCTOBER 20, 2019

OCTOBER 13, 2019

OCTOBER 7, 2019

The Transition Team invites you to a roundtable discussion to hear your thoughts on the questions below. The Team will host the roundtable twice-come to one or both-at 5pm on October 13 and 20 in the Family Life Center gym.

  1. What is the purpose of FBC?  Why does FBC exist?
    “To use marketplace terminology, understanding our purpose is understanding what business we are in.”
  2. What is the mission of FBC?
    “What specific objective is FBC devoted to accomplishing through its purposes?”
  3. Who is FBC’s primary target?
    “The more focused a church is on whom it is trying to reach, the more effective it will be at reaching them.”
  4. What are FBC’s current core values?
    What words define who we are?
  5. What do you dream FBC looks like in three years?
    How do you envision success looking?
  6. How will we accomplish God’s mission for FBC?
    “We must develop a strategy for our day in light of the answers to the first five questions.”

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

Your Transition team continues to work diligently.  On October 13 and October 20, 2019 at 5pm the Transition Team will host a church-wide Vision discussion.  This gathering will facilitate communication, information, and an opportunity to listen to those in attendance share their thoughts about the amazing future that God has for First Bradenton.


Pastor Allen and the transition team have been meeting bi-weekly. Continue to pray for each member of this team. Here is an update from Pastor Allen:


AUGUST 4, 2019

The Transition Team led by Pastor Allen Speer held their first of many meetings to discuss and evaluate the state of our church as a whole. This is an important intentional time of self-examination and reflection. They will be taking a healthy assessment of our organization, ministries, personnel, mission approach, and financial structure.

JULY 28, 2019

The Committee on Committees, working with Transitional Pastor Allen Speer, recommended 7 potential candidates for the Transition Team and submitted them for congregational vote. In a called business session at the conclusion of the worship service the church voted for and accepted the Committee’s nominations. Please pray for each of these members and for the tasks that lay ahead of them.

Steve Rowe
At-Large Member
Member Since 2018

Dianne Evans
Standing Committee
Member Since 1972

John Gregory
Staff Member
Member Since 2010

Sally Frame
At-Large Member
Member Since 2019

Mike Golda
Deacon & Standing Committee
Member Since 2015

Rachel Little
At-Large Member
Member Since 2016

Mark LaRowe
Deacon & Standing Committee
Member Since 1980

JUNE 9, 2019

Allen Speer, former pastor and current Chief Executive Officer of Agape Flights, was asked to be our Transitional Pastor and he happily accepted. As a Transitional Pastor, Allen will lead a Transitional Ministry team that will help focus the church in an intentional time of self-examination and reflection. This will foster a healthy environment in which to pray for and call our future Senior Pastor.

MARCH 12, 2019

A meeting was held with standing committee leaders, deacons, and staff to discuss steps moving forward and the church’s need for an intentional transitional interim pastor. The personnel committee will begin to meet to formulate that search.

MARCH 10, 2019

Senior Pastor announced his resignation to the congregation.

Transition Team FAQ

What is the objective of the Transition Team?

The Transition Team, a customized leadership group for the church coached by the Transition Pastor (TP), helps lead the church in an intentional time of self-examination and reflection. A vital key to a church during transition is a healthy evaluation of its organization, ministries, personnel, mission approach, and financial structure. The Transitional work is not a program; it is a process. The TP “coaches” the Transition Team on the process, but it is the Team that leads out in deciding what issues need to be tackled as they select the Focus Points that need attention.

This process also means that the Transition Team is responsible for knowing when the church is ready to wrap up the self-study and begin the work of finding a new pastor. The church delays the formation of a Pastor Search Team, a separate team from the Transition Team, until the major work of the self-study is completed.

Who from the congregation will be involved in meeting these objectives?

It is recommended during this time that a Transition Focus Team made of elected church members representing a good cross-section of the membership be formed to evaluate the church from top to bottom. Together, the TP and the Transition Team will work to restore hope for the future, integrity within the community, and health to the Body, and will seek to determine a short-term mission until the long-range vision arrives. Significant decisions or directional changes will be recommended by the Team and approved by the Church.

The Transition Team does not take over the church. It does not do the work for the church. Instead, the team’s role is to develop strategies to engage the congregation in each process so that the church body will be impacted by the study and so the church members will feel ownership of decisions made in the transition period.

What does that evaluation entail?

The evaluation is an examination of the body of Christ called First Baptist Church of Bradenton through the lenses of identity (who are we), context (where are we investing), processes (decision making), and programs (activities and ministries). The examinations will determine the best course to position the church to receive the next Senior Pastor. The goal is to become a healthy congregation and to be completely ready to receive the next Senior Pastor.