LAWRENCEVILLE — The election of officers at the Georgia Baptist Convention meeting always draws a lot of attention and the corridors and exhibit areas were nearly empty when it came time for the nomination speeches. Messengers swarmed into the church’s spacious worship center to participate in what has essentially become a biennial presidential election.
Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, was elected president over Fred Lodge, pastor of First Baptist Church in Blairsville. A total of 946 votes were cast for president with Stone receiving 553 votes to Lodge’s 391 votes. There were 1,301 messengers registered over the course of the two-day meeting.
During his 15-year pastorate at Emmanuel, the new president has led his church in a remarkable way. According to Don Hattaway, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, who announced Stone’s candidacy on The Christian Index website September 27 and nominated him Tuesday afternoon, Emmanuel’s Sunday morning worship attendance now averages over 1,000 and undesignated receipts have increased from $525.000 to just over $2 million.
Emmanuel has had a long history of being a 10 percent contributor through the Cooperative Program and has increased its support of the Cooperative Program by 32 percent in the last three years alone.
The newly elected president has served Georgia Baptists in a multitude of ways and for the past two years been the chairman of the Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Committee,. He will relinquish that role when a new chairman is elected at the December meeting.
A focus on winning Georgia, vice presidents elected
Upon being announced as the new president Stone declared that he wanted to lead Georgia Baptists to focus on “winning Georgia [to Christ] together.” Mike Stone and his wife, Andrea, have four children: Michaela, Andrew, Sarah, and Matthew.
Fred Lodge, also a worthy presidential candidate and a highly-respected Georgia Baptist leader, is known as a gifted preacher and teacher and pastors a church that gives 18 percent of its undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program. Lodge has a record of mentoring young men. He and his wife, Valeria, have three sons, all of whom are in the ministry.
Out of seven nominees for vice president there were four men elected to serve Georgia Baptists for 2018. They were: (1) Greg Bentley, associational missionary for the Altamaha and New Sunbury Baptist Association, first vice president. (2) Rando Acres, pastor of Center Hill Baptist Church in Loganville, second vice president. (3) Bill Marlette, pastor of First Baptist Church in Adel, third vice president, and (3) Michael Wilkes, pastor of Center Baptist Church in Helen, was fourth vice president.