posttrib
BUMP 
Weather Updates

First Baptist of Hammond has candidate for new pastor

John WilkersFirst Baptist Church Hammond. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

John Wilkerson of First Baptist Church in Hammond. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 42799106
tmspicid: 15831514
fileheaderid: 7119343

Updated: February 11, 2013 7:27AM



First Baptist Church of Hammond may have a new pastor by the conclusion of its Sunday night service

John Wilkerson, pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach, Calif., was chosen by the deacon committee as the final candidate, but he is still subject to a vote by church members at the start of the 6 p.m. Sunday service, church spokesman Eddie Wilson said.

If Wilkerson is approved Sunday night, he will succeed former church pastor Jack Schaap, who pleaded guilty in September to taking a then-16-year-old girl in June and July into Illinois and Michigan for sexual relations. Schaap had been fired by the church in July for “a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor.”

Wilkerson has been pastor in Long Beach since 2000. Before that, he taught or served as an administrator in Louisiana and California. Wilkerson graduated from Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville, where he met his wife, Linda. They have nine children; their eldest son Tyler died in a car crash in 2008.

Wilson said church members 18 and over can vote. Wilkerson must garner 75 percent of the vote or the search process will start over, Wilson said. The results will be announced by the conclusion of the service. The church started the search for a new pastor with 48 candidates, who were suggested by other pastors, members and faculty at Hyles-Anderson. The pulpit committee narrowed the list to 10, and the church’s deacons chose the finalist.

Wilkerson spoke to church members twice this week during services and has informally talked to church employees, Wilson said.

“He talked about his philosophy of the ministry, but also he’s given Bible-based sermons,” Wilson said.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.