An Interview with Tony Merida, pastor and professor

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by Michael McEwen

Tony Merida currently serves two positions: pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC and Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. After previously serving as pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS and Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Merida, sensing the call to plant a church, moved with his family to the Raleigh area to pastor and teach.

Reminiscing about his conversion, Merida humbly observed, “While attending college on a baseball scholarship, I confessed Jesus as Lord.” The second baseman and good friend on the team led Merida to Christ. Soon after becoming a Christian, Merida was called into ministry and began preaching.

In his study and preaching of the Scriptures, Merida recognized a common theme of adoption throughout their entirety. “We must have,” noted Merida, “an elevated perspective on adoption. We’ve been called to imitate him, and I honestly believe every Christian is to live out a spirit of adoption, which can include hosting orphans for a summer, fostering children in our community, and discipling local boys and girls from functionally fatherless families.”

Discussing the importance of a doctrine of adoption, Merida said, “In the Bible, we read of a God who adopts; He is the father of the fatherless. In addition to a theology of adoption, statistics inform our churches of the serious issues of orphans.”

Merida and his wife Kimberly have adopted five children, four from the Ukraine and one from Ethiopia. Kimberly is a 2003 graduate of Southeastern and musician who performs with the worship band at Imago Dei. She has been involved in various justice ministries like International Justice Mission – an agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.

Adding to his authored books, Faithful Preaching and Orphanology, Merida is working with Daniel Akin and David Platt on a future publication with B&H Publishing Group. The project is a commentary series on Christ-centered expositional preaching. Each of the authors is contributing to seven to eight volumes, and additionally, the series will host pastors, professors and newer voices from the Christian sphere. Merida said that the series will guide the layman or student as to how to read and preach the Scriptures messianically and missionally.

As Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern, Merida’s “bottom-line” pedagogy is that the Bible is taught and that Jesus is the hero of every sermon. “I want to see,” Merida declared, “students leave with a commitment to preach the point of the text and that message is Jesus.”

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