HAMMOND | First Baptist Church members on Sunday night voted in a new pastor to lead their congregation, according to the church's website.
John Wilkerson was selected by a vote of 94 percent. He will begin serving as pastor Feb. 17.
Wilkerson follows Jack Schaap as pastor of the megachurch. Schaap left the church in disgrace in 2012 after being charged in federal court with transporting a 16-year-old girl who attended the church to Illinois and Michigan for sex. Schaap pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2012.
According to a biography posted on the First Baptist Church Web site, Wilkerson is a native of Tennessee and met his wife, Linda, while attending First Baptist Church's Hyles-Anderson College in St. John.
Wilkerson graduated from Hyles-Anderson in 1989 and taught at the church's City Baptist Schools for a year before moving to California to teach at a Baptist school in Long Beach.
He became principal of Calvary Christian School in Baton Rouge, La., in 1993 and returned to California in 2000 to become the pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach. During Wilkerson's tenure as pastor, the Sunday school program at First Baptist Church of Long Beach has grown in attendance from 849 to more than 1,700.
The Wilkersons are parents to nine children. In August 2008, the couple's 17-year-old son, Tyler, was killed in a car accident. The Sunday after his son's death, Wilkerson presented a sermon entitled, "God Makes No Mistakes," according to the First Baptist Church website.