(Updated Jan. 29, 3:50 p.m.)
North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at this year’s annual meeting, Florida pastor Ken Whitten announced today (Jan. 29).
“I believe in J.D. Greear as a pastor and as a person, but I also believe in his vision for Southern Baptists,” said Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.
Photo by Bill Bangham
The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., where Greear is pastor, has been applauded for its evangelistic and church planting emphasis.
“J.D. walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to evangelism and missions,” Whitten told the Biblical Recorder. “The tongue in his mouth and the tongue in his shoe go the same direction.”
The Summit has led North Carolina churches for the past two years in Cooperative Program (CP) giving, contributing more than half a million dollars each year, according to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
The church allocated nearly 20 percent ($3.8 million) of its 2017 budget for Great Commission Giving to SBC missions and ministries, including $275,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions and $100,000 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions.
During Greear’s 16-year tenure, the church has grown from a few hundred attendees to more than 10,000 across multiple campuses. It began as Homestead Heights Baptist Church in 1962, and started a revitalization process in 2002, the year after Greear was called as pastor. The Summit has started 248 churches, including 208 outside the United States. More than 630 people were baptized last year at The Summit.
In addition, 158 Summit members currently serve as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries, with 17 participants in the “limitless pathways” initiative, meaning those missionaries continue to work in professional careers while partnering voluntarily with an IMB team. Greear previously served as an IMB missionary in Southeast Asia.
The church has sent nearly 1,000 people to do mission work over the years, both domestically and internationally, and committed in 2014 to give $500,000 over a five year period to help fund an endowed chair at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C.
The Summit also values diversity, with nearly 17 percent of its congregants being non-white, including Spanish and Mandarin speaking campuses.
Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., said, “I hope J.D. is elected as our new SBC president. He is an inspiration for us all as pastor of [The] Summit Church in the amazing number of people that are baptized there; in the awesome number of new campuses and church plants they have begun; and in the astounding number of people being sent out from Summit in international missions. I really believe he is God’s man for this day to lead Southern Baptist Christians into the future.”
Greear previously ran for SBC president in 2016, along with current president Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., and Louisiana pastor David Crosby. He withdrew from the race in an effort to promote unity across the convention after two close votes failed to settle the election.
The Recorder reported last year that Gaines offered in 2016 to nominate Greear for SBC president in 2018 upon hearing that Greear would withdraw from the election. Gaines told the Recorder Jan. 29 that, after discussing the matter, they both agreed a nomination by a sitting president would establish an unhealthy precedent for the convention. Gaines said he did not want to play "kingmaker."
Relating Greear’s upcoming nomination to the 2016 election and Gaines’s subsequent two-term presidency, Whitten said, “I believe God has been orchestrating that what Southern Baptists needed to do was focus on revival and prayer before anything else. I do not see [Greear’s vision for the SBC] competing with Pastor Steve Gaines's vision, or any presidents prior, but I think it is a continuation and a deepening of where we need to go and where we need to be as Southern Baptists.”
In a forthcoming blog post, seen by the Recorder, Greear said, “after a lot of prayer, encouragement and counsel, with the consent of our leadership team and Veronica my wife,” he will accept the nomination, adding the emphases “God laid on my heart” for the SBC haven’t changed since 2016:
- “Gospel above all”
- “Cultural and racial diversity”
- “Intentional, personal evangelism”
- “Church planting”
- “College mobilization”
- “Engaging the next generation in cooperative mission.”
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, said Greear is “well known for his commitment to send believers into the world to plant churches and fulfill the Great Commission – and his congregation models that mission heart.
“He is wise, gifted and qualified at every level to lead Southern Baptists. I am personally grateful for J.D.’s willingness to serve and represent our convention of churches.”
James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., echoed that sentiment, “I am so excited to hear that my dear friend, J.D. Greear, is going to be nominated to be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I truly believe that he has come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. The racial, generational and denominational vision he would bring to this position is exactly what the doctor has ordered for where we are today. J.D. will build on the great leadership of our current president has given, and I am honored to give him my personal endorsement.”
Greear, 44, has four children, and is a two-time SEBTS graduate, with master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees. He has authored multiple books, including Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart, Gaining by Losing and the forthcoming Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems.
The SBC annual meeting is June 12-13 in Dallas, Texas.