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Wright wins runoff for SBC president

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Bryant Wright, pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, defeated Florida pastor Ted Traylor in a runoff for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention June 14 in Orlando, Fla.

With 7,667 messengers voting, Wright received 4,225 votes, or 55.11 percent. Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., received 3,371 votes, for 43.9 percent. Nearly 11,000 messengers were registered at the time of the runoff.

In his nomination speech for Wright, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, said Wright is a pastor whose commitment to the Great Commission is evident.

“While we’ve been talking about the Great Commission, Bryant’s been quietly leading his church to do it,” said Uth, who cited a range of statistics regarding Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, started 28 years ago by Wright in Marietta, Ga.

Last year Johnson Ferry baptized 478 people, started seven churches in Cobb County, Ga., and in four of the past six years has given more than any other church in the SBC to the Lottie Mission Offering for International Missions. The church gave more than $2.7 million to missions last year, Uth reported.

Baptist Press reported in March that Joe Shadden, Johnson Ferry’s finance manager, had told the Florida Baptist Witness the church reduced Cooperative Program and International Mission Board gifts from 5 percent to 3.5 percent each in its 2009 budget as part of an overall budget reduction in response to the economic recession.

Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile in Saraland, Ala., nominated Traylor, saying he “rises from among us to lead us in a pursuit of a spiritual awakening and a Great Commission Resurgence.”

Litton cited John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer for the Florida Baptist Convention, as saying that Traylor’s church is one of the healthiest churches in the denomination, noting the expansion of its ministry while remaining faithful to the Cooperative Program by giving “in excess of 10 percent.”

Litton cited Traylor’s “compassionate heart” and Olive Baptist Church’s commitment to reach the nations by sending short-term and career missionaries.

“We must have the courage to turn into the strong winds blowing against the SBC and not retreat into the temptations of mediocrity,” Litton said. “This is the hour when we cannot delay our obedience to the Great Commission.”

Two other candidates also sought election as president of the SBC: Jimmy Jackson, pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., and Leo Endel, who is executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.
Compiled by Norm Miller, a freelance writer in Richmond, Va., with reporting by Tim Ellsworth and Keith Collier.

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