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The First Leader – Dr. Gerald Kellar

The division from the American Baptist Association took place in Lakeland, Fla. in 1950. With that came the North American Baptist Association with a new direction and, as a result, new leadership. That new association of churches in 1968 became the Baptist Missionary Association of America due to some confusion titling with another group of Baptists. As the new group assembled in Little Rock later in 1950, the first president was elected to moderate the assembly and to help mark out a trail that we are following today. That president was Dr. Gerald D. Kellar.

As a young preacher in the 1960s, I began attending national meetings and stood in awe of some of the great leaders. None caught my attention more than Dr.Kellar. His somewhat raspy voice captivated my attention quickly. But it was his demeanor, his dignity, that drew me to him. I became well acquainted with him as a student at CBC while he served the college as president. I was blessed to have such a mentor.

Dr. Kellar was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1937 and served as pastor to churches in Texas, Kansas and Mississippi. Yet, he had a heart for Christian education. He was a graduate of Jacksonville College, Baylor University, Southwestern Seminary and our own BMA Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas. 

One of the qualities of Dr. Kellar that I most respected was that of being an encourager. That encouragement was doled out especially to young ministers, whether preachers, youth ministers or music leaders. He always seemed to know exactly what was needed to lift up an individual’s spirits or to help him or her get back on track… or maybe I should say on the right trail.

He was an excellent administrator. He served as president of Jacksonville College (1944-56), BMA Theological Seminary (1966-67), Central Baptist College (1967-70) and Southeastern Baptist College (1991-96). His leadership traits have been emulated by others who followed him and, as a result, our institutions of higher learning have benefited greatly.

Along with his wife, Mary Lou, Dr. Kellar was a writer. He wrote several devotional books and sermon outline books. He also wrote a narrative of travels in the Holy Land. One of the books written by Mrs. Kellar was titled, The Pride of Springfield, a biography of her husband. In addition to his ministry in the field of education, Dr. Kellar led in the organization of several mission churches in Kansas.

Gerald D. Kellar got on the right trail as a young boy when he met Jesus and trusted Him as Savior. His desire was to point others to that narrow path that leads to Heaven. In doing so, he blazed a trail that has been easy to follow because of his dedication to his Lord.

Dr. Kellar received his heavenly promotion May 28, 2001. He was 84 years old. I hope you were one of those, like me, who were personally blessed by having known this fine servant of Christ. If you weren’t, I assure you, that as a member of a BMA church, you have been touched by his ministry through others whom he influenced. I thank our Lord for every remembrance of Dr. Gerald D. Kellar.