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SBC presidency nominations stir intrigue and debate
June 05, 2006
By BP Staff

Greensboro Coliseum, where the next SBC president will be chosen. BP Photo

Intrigue abounds over the upcoming election of officers of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd will be nominated by Johnny Hunt and has been publicly endorsed by three of the SBC's six seminary presidents, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Daniel Akin and Paige Patterson. However, South Carolina pastor Frank Page has announced that he will allow his name to be recommended for the presidency, citing the need to give Southern Baptists a choice on Cooperative Program methodology as his reason for running.

The SBC has not had a highly publicized presidential race since 1994 when Florida pastor Jim Henry won the office over Alabama pastor Fred Wolfe during the SBC's sessions in Orlando.

The election of officers will be part of the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C. The current SBC president, Florida pastor Bobby Welch, will be completing the traditional two years of service.

Oklahoma Baptist leader says "wholehearted support" for Cooperative Program important

Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, has called for Southern Baptists to elect a president who has "demonstrated his wholehearted support" for the Cooperative Program, the channel by which Southern Baptists support state, national and international missions and ministry. Jordan led a task force that has called on Southern Baptists to practice the biblical tithe.

Among the task force's various recommendations: the election of "state and national convention officers whose churches give at least 10 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program."

The task force report was adopted by the executives of the state Baptist conventions and the SBC Executive Committee in February.

The recommendation that churches give 10 percent of their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program is not "a magic number," Jordan wrote, "but it is a historic number. For nearly 75 years, our churches averaged giving more than 10 percent of undesignated receipts to missions through the CP. Today, the average has slipped to less than 7 percent."

At First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., where Floyd is pastor, the SBC's 2005 Annual Church Profile survey completed by the individual churches showed $32,000 contributed through the Cooperative Program (.27 percent) and $189,000 to the SBC allocation budget (1.58 percent) from $11,952,137 in undesignated receipts.

Floyd said the Cooperative Program has involved voluntary cooperation since its founding in 1925. He also noted that his church has started 17 congregations across the world and has organized a dozen mission trips a year, none of which is registered as CP giving.

Seminary presidents offer support for Floyd

In a letter to Floyd, Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote:

"Congratulations upon the news of your nomination to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am greatly encouraged by this news, and I want you to know of my eager support for you as the elected leader of our convention. I am thankful for your leadership, your deep personal investment in the life and work of the Southern Baptist Convention, and your friendship to me and to Southern Seminary through so many years."

Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an e-mail to Southeastern's faculty, students and staff on May 15, stated:

"... I believe, as does Brother Johnny Hunt, that Ronnie Floyd would make a fine president if he is elected by our convention. He is a godly man who has been my friend for more than 15 years. He has built a wonderful church and the number of men called to full-time Christian service under his ministry is amazing, and a tribute to his passion for mentoring young men for ministry."

Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a statement May 12 cited several factors in endorsing Floyd. He said Floyd "has faithfully served Southern Baptists" both as an Executive Committee member and, now, as a trustee of GuideStone Financial Resources, "where he has vigorously supported [GuideStone President O.S.] Hawkins' continuing concerns for widows and the pastors of small churches. Across the years, whenever he has made a mistake, like we all do, he has always humbly received correction and remedied anything for which a better way could be found. That sweet humility and openness commends him to us all." (BP)

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