ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Bryant Wright, pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in a June 15 runoff election, leading a slate of officers that includes two new vice presidents and two re-elected secretaries.
Messengers elected Tennessee evangelist Ron Herrod as first vice president and Arkansas pastor Eric Moffett as second vice president.
By acclamation, messengers elected John Yeats, director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, as SBC recording secretary — a position he has held since 1997 — and Jim Wells, director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in Nixa, Mo., as registration secretary for the eighth consecutive year.
Wright defeated Florida pastor Ted Traylor in a runoff for the presidency. With 7,667 messengers voting, Wright received 4,225 votes, or 55.11 percent. Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., received 3,371 votes, for 43.9 percent. Nearly 11,000 messengers were registered at the time of the runoff.
While nominating Wright, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, said Wright is a pastor whose commitment to the Great Commission is evident: “While we’ve been talking about Great Commission stuff, Bryant’s been quietly leading his church to do it,” Uth said. “He wasn’t waiting on a resurgence; he wasn’t waiting on a vote of a convention. He heard his Lord speak, and he did it.”
Started by Wright 28 years ago in Marietta, Ga., Johnson Ferry baptized 478 people last year, has started seven churches in Cobb County, Ga., co-sponsored five other church plants, and in four of the past six years has given more than any other church in the SBC to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. “Ask one of our missionaries if that’s doing the Great Commission,” Uth said.
More than 1,500 members of the church participated in 70 mission trips to 27 countries last year, recording more than 2,900 decisions for Christ, Uth reported. Johnson Ferry gave more than $2.7 million to missions last year. Uth said Wright would “be quick to say that is the Lord’s blessing” on the church that has caused such results.
Baptist Press reported in March that Joe Shadden, Johnson Ferry’s finance manager, had told the Florida Baptist Witness the church reduced Cooperative Program and International Mission Board gifts from 5 percent to 3.5 percent each in its 2009 budget as part of an overall budget reduction in response to the economic recession.
Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile in Saraland, Ala., nominated Traylor, saying he “rises from among us to lead us in a pursuit of a spiritual awakening and a Great Commission Resurgence.”
Litton cited John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer for the Florida Baptist Convention, as saying that Traylor’s church is one of the healthiest churches in the denomination, noting the expansion of its ministry while remaining faithful to the Cooperative Program by giving “in excess of 10 percent.” Traylor is a former president of the Florida Baptist Convention; search committee chairman for the next president of the SBC’s North American Mission Board; and a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.
Two other candidates were on the first ballot: Jimmy Jackson, pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., and current president of the Alabama Baptist Convention, and Leo Endel, executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
Messengers elected Tennessee evangelist Ron Herrod as first vice president. Garnering 1,653 votes, or 59.08 percent, Herrod defeated Jim Drake, pastor of Brushfork Baptist Church in Bluefield, W.Va., who received 1,117 votes, or 39.92 percent.
Former SBC president and evangelist Bailey Smith nominated Herrod. Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville (N.C.) Baptist Church and founder of the SBC Majority, nominated Drake.
Messengers elected Eric Moffett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sparkman, Ark., as second vice president. Moffett garnered 706 votes (50.6 percent), defeating James Goforth Jr, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Florissant, Mo., who received 689 votes (49.4 percent).
Brent Powell, director of missions for the Black River Baptist Association in Hoxie, Ark., nominated Moffett, saying, “We have talked a long time about involving young pastors in the life of this convention. And I believe it’s time we quit talking about it and actually pull out a chair and give them a seat at the table.”
James Goforth Sr., a messenger from Campground Baptist Church in Alto, Texas, nominated his son, James Goforth Jr.
Two other nominees were in the initial ballot that fostered the runoff: John Copeland, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fulton, Ala., and Ray Newman, ethics and religious affairs specialist for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
In other action, messengers elected David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Ala., to preach the convention sermon at the 2011 annual meeting in Phoenix. Vance Pittman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Las Vegas, was elected as the alternate preacher, while Jason Breeland, worship pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile in Saraland, Ala., was chosen as the music director for the annual meeting.
Norm Miller is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Va.