EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated Wednesday (June 12) with new election details.
BIRMINGHAM (BP)– North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was reelected by acclamation to a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
He will lead a diverse slate of officers, including: Marshal Ausberry, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax, Va., first vice president; Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, second vice president; John Yeats executive director of Missouri Baptist Convention, recording secretary; and Kathy Litton, director of planter spouse development for North American Mission Board, registration secretary.
Litton is the first woman to serve as SBC registration secretary, edging out incumbent SBC registration secretary Don Currence by 44 votes. Of 3,571 votes cast, Litton received 1,803 votes, or 50.49 percent of the ballots cast. Currence received 1,759 votes, or 49.26 percent of the ballots cast.
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area, was nominated by K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia. No other candidates were nominated as president.
Southern Baptists “need a pastor-preacher-prophet that will continue to stand in the gap with consistent … clarity, one who is strong as steel but soft as velvet,” said Williams, who described Greear as “a man after God’s own heart with the Lord’s anointing upon him, hastening to hear and instantaneously and radically heed the principles and practices of the holy. This has enabled him to love and lead … his family, his flock and this convention.
“His ministerial resume is stupendous,” said Williams, who added that Greear’s appointments in his first year as SBC president are the most diverse in Southern Baptist history, including “48 non-white, 38 percent female, over 70 percent have never served on a national board before.”
Also, in his first year as SBC president, Greear, he said, “without hesitation addressed the issues of sexual abuse.
“He is passionate in his pursuit of inexplicable unity among Kingdom citizens of all ethnicities so we can demonstrate a collective incarnation, a redemptive healing presence, that pushes back darkness and stands up with moral authority to call our nation to repentance and manifest fruits of repentance, as a catalyst to usher in revival in the church and a spiritual awakening in the land.”
In his first year as SBC president, Greear focused on the “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative, which calls on believers to pray for and focus their evangelistic efforts on one individual over the course of a year in hope that person may come to know Christ. He also announced a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study, which will present its report to annual meeting attendees on Wednesday, June 12. Greear also has championed gender and ethnic diversity in his presidential appointments of SBC leaders.
During the 17 years Greear has pastored The Summit Church, worship attendance has increased from 60 in 2002 to nearly 10,000, according to statistics available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Baptisms have increased from 19 in 2002 to 616 in 2018 at the church’s nine campuses.
The Summit Church has given close to $1 million over the past two years through the Cooperative Program (CP), Southern Baptists’ unified program of funding state- and national-level ministries, according to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The church has been the top CP-contributing church in terms of dollars given each year from 2016-18.
Summit’s Great Commission Giving, which comprises CP gifts as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries, totaled nearly $4 million (close to 20 percent of undesignated receipts) in 2018.
The Summit Church has planted 292 churches to date, including 244 outside the U.S., with a goal of planting 1,000 churches in 50 years. Close to 200 Summit members are serving as International Mission Board missionaries.
Prior to the SBC annual meeting, in written comments to Baptist Press, Greear said, “I believe our best days of cooperative mission are ahead of us if we refocus to keep the Gospel above all our preferences, styles, theological leanings and cultural differences.”
First vice president
In nominating Ausberry as SBC first vice president, Vance Pitman, senior pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, said, “As a co-laborer in the Kingdom, I have watched this brother in Christ serve as both pastor of his church and president of the National African American Fellowship of Southern Baptists with Christ-like humility. I have found him to be a servant-leader who passionately follows Jesus and has a strong vision for seeing God’s Kingdom expanded and reflected locally and globally through cooperative ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Ausberry, he said, “is the kind of leadership and example that we need today. Marshal Ausberry is exactly the kind of humble servant-leader that we need to serve as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in these days.”
No other persons were nominated as first vice president.
Second vice president
In nominating Garcia as SBC second vice president, Micah Fries, senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., said, “Noe is a good man who has led his church extremely well…. Noe’s story is one of grace and redemption. He grew up in an extremely broken home. He began using drugs and alcohol in the sixth grade. He continued walking away from the Lord until this culminated with a suicide attempt at 18 years old. It was after this that God began to grab his heart. He was gloriously saved. He began to walk faithfully with Jesus.”
North Phoenix has seen significant growth under the leadership of Garcia, said Fries.
No other persons were nominated as second vice president.
Litton has given a lifetime of service to Southern Baptists at all levels of convention life, Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins said in nominating her.
Most Baptists have given very little thought to the person who serves as registration secretary, Scroggins said, “but now it has potential to become a very prominent role.” The SBC registration secretary will serve in an ex-officio role on a new standing Credentials Committee charged with addressing issues that would deem a church not in friendly cooperation with the SBC, including matters related to sexual abuse.
Scroggins commended the job done by Currence, “but because the issues facing us right now are so central and because this moment is so powerful, I believe it would be good to have a woman’s voice to speak from this seat,” he said.
“A woman’s voice — in particular this woman’s voice, Kathy Litton’s voice — will bring much needed perspective and a measure of credibility as we recommit to a process of accountability for churches and care for victims.”
Litton’s husband, Ed, is senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala. She was previously married to Denver pastor Rick Ferguson, who was killed in an auto accident in 2002. Ed Litton’s former wife, Tammy, also was lost in an auto accident in 2007.
Yeats was nominated by Missouri church planter Jon Nelson, who said, “I’ve witnessed first-hand his consistent leadership across our state. He loves to invite younger men to walk alongside him in the realm of his denominational life, but also in being a man of God.”
Nelson emphasized Yeats’ evangelistic passion and working knowledge of the SBC and the SBC Annual Meeting.
Also nominated was North Carolina pastor Eddie Eaton, who was nominated by Florida pastor Mike Orr.
Yeats garnered 2,527 votes — or 62.89 percent—to Eaton’s 1,465 votes – or 36.46 percent.