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Mike Stone to be nominated in New Orleans for SBC president

EDITOR’S NOTE: On June 5, Florida pastor Willy Rice announced he will nominate Mike Stone for Southern Baptist Convention president at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting.

BLACKSHEAR, Ga. (BP) – Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, announced in a video today that he has “prayerfully agreed to accept a nomination for the presidency of the SBC.”

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention will gather in New Orleans June 11-14. The only other announced candidate is current president Bart Barber, who will be nominated by Steven James, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La.

Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, was first elected to the presidency last year at the annual meeting held in Anaheim, Calif.

In the video released by Alabama pastor Mac Brunson over Twitter, Stone pointed to two issues in the SBC he will address more in the coming weeks: sexual abuse and evangelism.

“In this critical hour, we need leaders who will guide us to care well for victims while at the same time embracing scriptural principles of due process in the handling and publishing of accusations [of sexual abuse],” he said.

In the video, Stone alluded to the fact that an investigation completed by Guidepost Solutions into the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse and resulting litigation caused SBC EC auditors to deem the EC to be on an “unsustainable financial trajectory.” Stone added: “[P]eople are infinitely more valuable than financial resources, but we can address this issue wisely in a way that doesn’t lead us to financial ruin.”

Stone also said Southern Baptist leaders should “honor biblical ecclesiology” and when outside help is necessary to address sexual abuse, they should “only use those [organizations] driven by fact and informed by the truth.”

In Guidepost’s May 2022 report following its yearlong investigation, Stone was accused by former Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore of having “stonewalled” attempts at reform regarding sexual abuse.

Moore’s criticism of Stone was also part of a letter leaked just prior to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting. Stone, who also ran for SBC president in 2021, called Moore’s allegations “ungodly” and “slanderous.” Stone filed suit against Moore in October of 2021, saying Moore’s actions were an attempt to “discredit his campaign for the presidency of the SBC.” He withdrew the suit two months later.

In the April 26 video, Stone went on to add that the issues of addressing sexual abuse and evangelism “are not in conflict with one another. We can deal rightly with the abuse issue while staying on mission for Christ.”

Unity in the SBC can be found in a common passion for evangelism, he said. As such his second focus as president would be a nationwide evangelism emphasis called Crossover America.

If Stone is nominated in New Orleans, it will be the first time since 2011 that a sitting SBC president has been challenged. That year, California pastor Wiley Drake nominated himself against president Bryant Wright.

Stone was one of four candidates seeking the SBC presidency in 2021, finishing second to Alabama pastor Ed Litton. Stone also served two terms on the SBC Executive Committee, including two years as chair.

According to Annual Church Profile information, Emmanuel Baptist Church reported 24 baptisms in 2022, averaged 975 in weekly worship and collected $2,433,397 in total undesignated receipts.

BP confirmed with David Melber, chief financial officer of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, that Emmanuel did not give through the Cooperative Program in 2022 but did give $36,000 directly to the International Mission Board.