Dr. R. Lamar Vest will serve as the 10th president of the local learning institution.
Vest was selected by the PTS Board of Trustees in consultation with the International Executive Committee of the Church of God. The search began after Land announced in January his intention to transition from the Office of the President to a role as “teacher, author and consultant.”
Vest recently spoke on his appointment.
“My wife Vickie and I are honored by the opportunity to serve the Pentecostal Theological Seminary at this important time in its history,” he said. “While we are committed to building on the past accomplishments of those who have very successfully filled this position, our future will be shaped by the prayers and corporate discernment of those who love, support and serve the seminary.”
“The seminary board has believed the choosing of the next president would be a defining moment for the seminary. We knew we needed to hear from God,” Dr. J. Martin Taylor, seminary board chair, said. “We had several outstanding candidates to consider, any of which would have blessed the seminary with their leadership.
“When the seminary board search committee discussed the attributes and giftedness the new president would need to have to be effective, the Holy Spirit brought Lamar Vest to our minds.”
Taylor continued, “Although Dr. Vest had not been a candidate for consideration, and was hesitant after our initial approach to him, he agreed to join with us in prayer and subseqent dialogue.
“After a season of prayer and addtional discussion, the seminary board unanimously decided to ask him to serve as president.”
“We believe we witnessed the Holy Spirit moving our search committee and seminary board toward Dr. Vest,” Taylor said. “At the same time, it was confirmed to the Vests during their time of prayer. We praise God for his direction and his grace.”
“Lamar Vest holds the rare combination of leadership abilities which demonstrate servanthood, while at the same time garnering the respect and integrity needed to lead large organizations,” Williams said. “He is a trans-generational leader whose legacy in Church of God history has been solidified, but his contributions go far beyond this movement to touch the entire body of Christ.”
Vest was called to preach at the age of 14. He accepted his first pastorate at the age of 20 in his native state of South Carolina. He has since led a life of distinguished ministry service. Positions included positions as state evangelist for the Church of God in South Carolina, state youth and discipleship leader in Oklahoma, California and Maryland, director of the International Youth and Christian Education Department for the Church of God, president of Lee College and as a member of the Church of God Executive Committee.
In addition, Vest was selected to serve in the denomination’s top leadership post as general overseer in 1990. He served until tenure limitations placed him out of office in 1994.
He was re-elected to the committee two years later and once again became the overseer in 2000. He served until 2004. Vest is one of the few ministers in the history of the Church of God to serve twice as general overseer.
Vest has served on numerous committees and boards that have impacted communities around the world. He has been on the executive committee for the United Bible Societies’ Global Board and served as chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals.
His leadership has included service as vice chairman of the World Pentecostal Fellowship and chancellor of education for the Church of God.
Most recently, Vest served as president of the American Bible Society from 2009 to 2013. He began his tenure with ABS in 1991 as a board member and was elected chairman 10 years later. He served for six years as chairman before being tapped to fill the post of executive vice president for Global Scripture Ministries in 2006. He served in that capacity until moving to the presidency in 2009.
“I can think of no one more experienced and qualified to fill the role of president than Dr. Vest,” Land said. “Dr. Vest sees this position not primarily as an office but as a function of the Holy Spirit. With God’s help, Dr. Vest will facilitate processes that will move the seminary to the next level with strategic vision.”
Dr. Paul Conn, president of Lee University, responded to the announcement by saying, “It will be enjoyable to have Dr. Vest working with us in Church of God higher education. All of us at Lee University are looking forward to a very positive relationship with the seminary under his leadership.”
Vest will assume the role of president at the upcoming International General Assembly of the Church of God, effective Aug. 1.