About Us

Meet Dr. Don Wilton

Long before Pastor Dr. Don Wilton was born in South Africa, God set him apart as a friend, pastor, and author far away in the United States of America. He attended boarding school where even as a young boy he heard the call of ministry and preached the gospel to the nearby tribesmen. Many times, he rode his horse into the hills of Zululand with a small wind-up record player and played a recording of the gospel in the native language. After graduating high school, he enrolled in Rhodes University in South Africa where he met and married Karyn Bolton Wilton. After graduating from college, they continued to feel God’s call on their lives for ministry, and they sold everything they owned, packed two suitcases, and headed for the U.S.A to attend seminary and prepare for the gospel ministry.

Dr. Wilton graduated from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and  earned six academic degrees. He later served as their Associate Professor of Evangelistic Preaching for many years and pastored a nearby church. Dr. Wilton accepted God’s call in 1993 to be the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg.

In addition to serving at a downtown thriving mega-church, Dr. Wilton is the founder and president of The Encouraging Word television broadcast and multimedia ministry. The Encouraging Word is a viewer and listener supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry. The Encouraging Word airs on DAYSTAR, Truth Network, His Radio, and numerous other stations—with the potential to reach households in numerous countries around the world. The ministry also distributes a highly sought after daily devotional called The Daily Encouraging Word. All donations made to TEW are used strictly for The Encouraging Word ministry.

Along with writing manuals, articles, reviews for the Southern Baptist Convention, and publications such as Preaching and Decision Magazines, he has authored books, devotionals and Bible study guides. Dr. Wilton hosts Christian teaching tours to the Holy Land with each tour being focused on a different area—including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, and Greece.

Dr. Don Wilton had the deep honor and privilege of serving as Dr. Billy Graham’s friend and pastor. They remained close for many years. Dr. Wilton also frequently speaks for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Schools of Evangelism and at The Cove. In his introduction to Dr. Wilton’s book, Totally Secure, America’s Pastor said:

Don’s expository preaching at the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and by means of The Encouraging Word broadcast ministry has been a great blessing to me.

Billy Graham

Prior to Dr. Graham’s passing, Dr. Wilton visited him on a weekly basis for almost 25 years. They encouraged and prayed for one another. Dr. Wilton would often share his sermon for the coming week with Dr. Graham, and he would give insightful feedback that was greatly cherished. In the past year, Dr. Wilton wrote a book chronicling their wonderful friendship called Saturdays with Billy: My Friendship with Billy Graham. Order your copy today! 

Dr. Wilton’s ministry has been hallmarked by his strong expository preaching of the absolute truth from God’s Word. He often says, “I have nothing to say apart from God’s Word.” His ability to pull those around him together in unity and love charactarizes his leadership. Because of these characteristics, people recognize him as a Bible expositor, and he preaches around the world in crusades, revivals, evangelism conferences, state conventions, and on seminary campuses.

Godly pastors raised Don and Karyn, and as a result, they have passed on the rich heritage of ministry to their three grown children and eight grandchildren. Karyn leads the Women’s Ministry at First Baptist Spartanburg and supports, encourages, and grows the Gospel ministry. Don enjoys reading, golfing, fishing and watching football, rugby, and cricket. He also loves spending as much time as possible with his family. Above all, he rejoices when, as he would say, “just one more” person chooses Jesus to be their personal Lord and Savior.