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Wiley Drake to be SBC president nominee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the SBC’s June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Bob Bosworth, the congregation’s music minister, confirmed May 20.

Drake is among six announced nominees for the post, joining Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.; Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; William L. (Bill) Wagner, a former Southern Baptist missionary and seminary professor and current president of Olivet University International in San Francisco; Avery Willis, a former Southern Baptist missionary and retired senior vice president of overseas operations for the International Mission Board; and Les Puryear, senior pastor of Lewisville (N.C.) Baptist Church.

A native of Arkansas, Drake has been pastor of the Buena Park congregation since 1987. He is a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention and twice has served as moderator of the Orange County Southern Baptist Association. He is listed as a co-founder of the Presidential Prayer Team and currently serves as vice president of the Congressional Prayer Conference in Washington, D.C., and as chaplain to the Minuteman Project. He is a member of the board of directors of Crusade Radio, on which he hosts “The Wiley Drake Show.”

“I’ve been here at the church about three years and I go all over the country with Wiley,” Bosworth said. “I have an insight into this man that few men are able to have. He was in the industrial world for about 10 years and then got back into the ministry. Our church is just a small church but Pastor Drake is an activist for every issue where they are fighting against the cause of Christianity -– abortion, the gay issue…. I know this man’s heart and I feel it is justified for him now to become the president of the convention.”

Drake is a perennial presence at open microphones during general business sessions of annual meetings. He is best known in Southern Baptist circles for his successful motion at the 1997 SBC annual meeting to boycott The Disney Company for its support of homosexual activist causes. Messengers to the 2005 annual meeting approved a resolution ending the boycott. In 1997 he also was convicted by a Buena Park jury on four misdemeanor codes violations when he refused to discontinue a program at the church that sheltered homeless people.

Drake also was briefly in the media spotlight in 2006 when he created letterhead for himself as Southern Baptist Convention second vice president and then used it to endorse a candidate for U.S. Senate — a move which raised the ire of tax law and church/state separation watchdogs and spawned a “cease and desist” letter from an official with the SBC Executive Committee.

In February 2008, acting on a complaint by an activist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Internal Revenue Service opened an inquiry into the Buena Park congregation’s tax-exempt status after Drake issued a “personal endorsement” of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in August 2007. Drake responded by calling for “imprecatory prayers” from his supporters against two Americans United staff members. Drake announced May 18 that he had received a letter from the IRS clearing him of improper political activity.

According to a resume provided by Drake, he dropped out of school in the ninth grade to enter the circus and rodeo. Sidelined by a bull-riding injury, he worked on a crew building missile silos before he joined the U.S. Navy. During a tour of duty in Vietnam, he accepted Christ as Savior.

Drake’s resume states that he attended Biola College, Golden West College, California State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, International Bible Institute and Seminary and Andersonville Baptist College and Seminary and holds degrees in psychology, communications, theology and Christian education.

Drake and his wife Barbara have four children.

Information from the 2007 Annual Church Profile for First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park lists $200 given through the Cooperative Program in 2007, and $0 received for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. No information was provided in other categories. Baptist Press asked Drake for several figures, which he supplied: baptisms — 120; primary worship service attendance — 45; total undesignated receipts — $80,000. The $200 given through the Cooperative Program represents .25 percent of the $80,000 in undesignated receipts.
Compiled by Mark Kelly, an assistant editor at Baptist Press.

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