By Margaret Colson
BIRMINGHAM (BP) — North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was reelected by acclamation to a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 11 during SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
He will lead a diverse slate of officers, including: Marshal Ausberry, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax, Virginia, 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, North Carolina 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 today, 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.”
Margaret Colson is a writer in Atlanta.