WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.(BP)–Conservatives won the top two Baptist State Convention of North Carolina(BSC) elected offices, while moderates held on to the BSC second vice presidency.
Jerry Pereira, pastor of First Baptist Church of Swannanoa, was elected president of the Baptist State Convention. Bob Foy, a layman from Mooresville, won the first vice presidency and Larry Harper, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, was re-elected second vice president.
Pereira defeated Raymond Earp, past president of North Carolina Baptist Men and a layman from Calvary Baptist Church in Beaufort, by a vote of 2,208, or about 54 percent, to 1,883, or about 46 percent.
Foy defeated incumbent Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, by a vote of 1,443, or about 53.4 percent, to 1,257, or about 46.5 percent.
Harper received 1,472 votes, or about 53 percent, to 1,304 votes, or about 47 percent, for Hampton Drum, pastor of South River Baptist Church in Statesville.
Pereira’s election is considered a victory for conservatives. He serves as a regional director for Conservative Carolina Baptists [CCB]. In an interview after the election Pereira said he only goes to about half of the CCB meetings. He said he joined the group to support Billy Cline and Greg Mathis.
“We’ve got some good people on all sides of the aisle,” he said. “I look forward to being the president of all North Carolina Baptists.”
Pereira was asked at a press conference if he thought the BSC might split.
“I sense North Carolina Baptists are more united now than ever before in our history,” he said.
Pereira said he agreed with the emphasis that Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina placed on the lordship of Jesus Christ.
“I reach out my hand to all North Carolina Baptists to rally under the banner of the lordship of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Pereira said he hopes his leadership is “ditto” to that of outgoing BSC President Mike Cummings.
“I think Mike Cummings has been one of the greatest presidents our convention has ever had,” Pereira said. “He’s very inclusive and I want to be inclusive, too.”
Pereira was a latecomer to the president’s race, announcing his candidacy about a month before the BSC annual meeting. The announcement was five days after Charles Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, told his congregation that he was withdrawing his candidacy because of a recurrence of cancer.
Pereira served on the search committee that recommended Jim Royston as BSC executive director/treasurer. He has also served on the Committee on Committees, which recommends appointments to the nominations committee and several other committees.
Pereira said he disagrees with statements about a conservative takeover of the BSC. He has said he supports the BSC’s four giving plans available to churches.
Pereira and Earp had both pledged cooperation. Two men who became known for their cooperation when they served in top BSC offices nominated them.
Greg Mathis, a former BSC president, nominated Pereira. Mike Queen, a former president of the BSC General Board, nominated Earp.
The relationship between Mathis and Queen became known as “the Greg and Mike show” when they promoted shared leadership between conservatives and moderates.
Mathis said Pereira would minimize non-essential matters that divide N.C. Baptists.
“Jerry only has one agenda and that is to move us forward together,” he said.
Queen said Earp loves God and loves N.C. Baptists. He said Earp has taken numerous mission trips, including 14 to Ukraine.
“While others took vacation, Raymond Earp went on mission for God,” Queen said.
“Raymond Earp has no agenda save missions and evangelism and cooperation among North Carolina Baptists.”
During his press conference, Pereira congratulated Earp for running a good race. He mentioned Queen’s comments about Earp’s mission work. “It almost tempted me to vote for him,” Pereira said.
In an interview after the election, Foy said he thinks N.C. Baptists should support each other rather than squabbling.
“I think all of us staying together is critical,” he said.
Foy also indicated that he disagreed with talk of a conservative takeover.
“I think they ought to do away with that terminology,” he said.
Foy said he is a Southern Baptist and an inerrantist.
“I believe the whole Bible,” he said. “Some people talk about other people who don’t believe it, but I haven’t met them.”
When asked if he had any hesitation of running against an incumbent, Foy said he wasn’t running against Corbin, he was running for first vice president.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with two good men running,” he said.
Foy said he believes lay people should be more involved in the work of N.C. Baptists. Lay people are just as called as pastors, he said.
“I think many of us don’t understand the accountability of that calling,” he said.
Harper said in an interview that he had met briefly with Pereira and Foy. He said his first impressions were “very positive.”
Harper said he was pleased that the BSC messengers endorsed him for a second term.
“I was surprised that the vote was so close because CCB had said they weren’t going to oppose me,” he said.
Harper said he didn’t know why CCB had said it wouldn’t oppose his re-election. He also couldn’t explain why he was elected by a similar margin as the two conservative candidates.
“I know Buddy [Corbin] was very hurt because there’s an unwritten tradition” not to oppose candidates who are eligible for re-election, Harper said.
Conservatives had targeted Corbin for defeat. CCB endorsed Foy, but not Drum.