JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 15, 2003– Hoyt Wilson, the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church Lexington was awarded the Robert E. Craig Service Award during the commencement service of the 179th graduating class of Union University, held Dec. 13 at West Jackson Baptist Church.
Since 1978 Wilson served as senior pastor of the West Tennessee church. He recently retired from the pastorate but remains actively involved in ministry. Wilson is a Union University graduate. He holds graduate degrees from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Hoyt's wife, Nancy, joined him in accepting the award from David S. Dockery, president of the university.
"Dr. Wilson has a long and faithful ministry in the West Tennessee area," Dockery said. "He has also been a faithful Union graduate, encouraging students to come to Union and helping us enlarge the Union circle of friends. This is a fitting tribute to a faithful preacher of the gospel and a model citizen."
The award his named after the university's 13th president, who led the university for more than two decades and was responsible for reestablishing Union with the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Craig was also responsible for relocating the university campus to north Jackson.
During Wilson's tenure at First Baptist, the church membership increased to 1,850 individuals, two major building projects were completed and the sanctuary was renovated.
Several of Wilson's creative ministry ideas earned the church national media attention - a teen skateboarding ministry.
"We try to blend the traditional and contemporary," Wilson told Baptist Press in a 2002 interview. "Basically, we try to be pretty up front in technology and conservative in theology. We are people of God on a spiritual journey. Heaven is our final destination. We want as much company as we can get as we assist one another along the way."
On Dec. 12 the university presented several academic awards. Julie Lynn Fisher, of Jackson; Shannon Suzanne Paschall, of Puryear, Tenn.; and Lee Howard Plunkett, of Eldorado, Ill. were awarded membership in Alpha Chi, a university-wide academic honorary society.