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Southern Baptists elect Fla. pastor Bobby Welch as president

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 15.

Welch defeated Al Jarrell, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Merry Hill, N.C., in the first contested election for SBC president since 1994 when the convention met in Orlando, Fla. That year, Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, defeated Alabama pastor Fred Wolfe for the SBC presidency.

Welch won with 3,997 votes over 1,020 for Jarrell.

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., nominated Welch for president.

“What encourages me most about Dr. Bobby Welch is his deep love for the Lord Jesus Christ, his commitment to God’s holy Word, his passion to missions and soul-winning and his unwavering desire to make a difference in his lifetime in Christ’s Kingdom,” Hunt said.

Hunt called Welch a “household name among Southern Baptists” and praised his commitment to the Cooperative Program and evangelism.

“You can hardly think of sharing your faith without thinking of Bobby Welch and FAITH soul-winning training,” Hunt said. Welch has been pastor of Daytona Beach First Baptist Church since 1974. He is the co-creator of the popular FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy with Doug Williams, the church’s retired evangelism director.

Welch is the author of “You, the Warrior Leader,” “Evangelism Through the Sunday School: A Journey of Faith” and “The Sacrificed Life.” He has served as a trustee for LifeWay Christian Resources and as a member of the SBC Committee on Resolutions and Committee on Nominations.

A native of Fort Payne, Ala., Welch graduated from Jacksonville (Ala.) State University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a Vietnam War veteran who earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal and other awards for his military service.

Welch and his wife, Maudellen, have two married children, Matthew and Haylee.

Dennis Conner, pastor of Cashie Baptist Church in Windsor, N.C., nominated Jarrell, saying, “I am under no illusion that Rev. Jarrell may be elected. I had to beg him to permit me to place his name in nomination.

“But I do so because I have grown concerned in the nine years that I have been coming to these conventions as a pastor, that the convention’s leadership is growing further and further and further from the grassroots of Southern Baptist life.”

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, has served as SBC president for the past two years.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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