Five nominees for three top SBC posts
Staff and press reports
May 07, 2010

Five nominees for three top SBC posts

Five nominees for three top SBC posts
Staff and press reports
May 07, 2010

While three candidates have

been announced as candidates to lead the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC),

only one candidate has been announced for each of the two next positions.

The SBC annual meeting will

be June 15-16 in Orlando.

North Carolina native Johnny

Hunt is completing his service as SBC president, having been elected to a

second one-year term at last year’s SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. Hunt

is pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock.

Georgia pastor Bryant Wright, Jimmy Jackson, president of the Alabama Baptist

State Convention, and Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola,

Fla., have all been announced as possibilities to lead the SBC.

Evangelist Ron Herrod and

Ray Newman, ethics and religious affairs specialist for the Georgia Baptist

Convention, will be nominated for first and second vice president,


Bryant Wright

The nomination of Wright, senior pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry

Baptist Church in Marietta, will be made by David Uth, pastor of First Baptist

Church in Orlando, according to a March 12 report by the Florida Baptist


(Read interview.)

Wright is the founding pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, which began in

1981 and now reports average weekly worship attendance of 4,383 and a resident

membership of 6,121.

The church reported 459 baptisms in 2009. Wright was

president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference in 2006 in Greensboro.

Bryant Wright

The church gave $638,992, or 3.9 percent, of its undesignated receipts through

the Cooperative Program in 2009, according to the Georgia Baptist Convention’s

Annual Church Profile, a decrease from 4.9 percent of undesignated giving in

2008 and 5.1 percent in 2007, The Christian Index of Georgia reported March 12.

Wright, in comments to Index editor Gerald Harris March 12, said he wants to

see “a greater percentage of our dollars (going) to the IMB, NAMB (North

American Mission Board) and our seminaries.”

From 1982 to 1997, Johnson Ferry gave 10 percent of church receipts through the

Cooperative Program, The Index reported, noting that in 1997 the 10 percent

given to CP “causes” entailed 7 percent to the Georgia convention, which

forwards 40.35 percent of its receipts to SBC missions and ministries, and 3

percent directly to the IMB through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Beginning in December 2003, The Index reported, that figure went to 5 percent

GBC/SBC, 5 percent IMB. In April 2009 the church gave 7 percent to CP causes,

with a 3.5 percent split between the GBC/SBC and IMB, The Index reported.

Joe Shadden, Johnson Ferry’s finance manager, told the Florida Baptist Witness

that the church reduced CP and IMB 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.

David Uth, the Orlando pastor who announced his intention to nominate Wright

for SBC president, told the Florida Baptist Witness that Wright is “uniquely

positioned to continue the much-needed focus on the Great Commission as set

forth by Johnny Hunt and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.”

“Bryant has been a consistent leader among Southern Baptists who acknowledges

and appreciates our traditional heritage while embracing some of the creative

and innovative methods of reaching today’s generation for Christ,” the Florida

paper quoted Uth as saying. Uth described Wright as an “example of a missional

mindset in leading his church to not only aggressively support the Cooperative

Program, but to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and to

other mission causes beyond his own church.”

Uth said Johnson Ferry “has had a strong missional emphasis from the beginning.”

Uth said the Georgia church gave 17 percent of budgeted receipts to mission

causes in 2009 and “last year alone more than 1,500 members went on 70 mission

trips to 27 nations around the world.” Uth said the church has started seven

mission churches in Cobb County and north Atlanta and co-sponsored five other

church plants.

Johnson Ferry’s overall undesignated receipts for 2009 were $16,074,014,

according to its ACP data, with overall missions giving listed at $3,015,335.

An amount is not listed specifically for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering

for North American Missions.

Wright, in a Nov. 5, 2009 column in The Index, called for “a radical

reprioritizing of Cooperative Program (CP) funds through our state conventions,”

affirming SBC President Johnny Hunt’s call “for a resurgent focus on fulfilling

Christ’s Great Commission.”

Wright proposed that each state convention keep no more than 25-30 percent of

CP funds in-state so that 50 percent can go to international missions.

“(A)s our lay volunteers began to go in great numbers on mission trips and to

partner with ministries around the world, they were absolutely appalled to find

how high a percentage of our CP dollars stayed in the state and how little

actually wound up on the international mission field,” Wright wrote. “So

several years ago, we began to dramatically shift the funding to Southern

Baptist mission causes by giving 5 percent of the church budget to the CP and 5

percent directly to the IMB in what is considered a monthly gift to the Lottie

Moon offering.”

“We’d prefer that the full amount we give to Southern Baptist mission causes go

through the CP,” Wright continued, “but until the formulas change dramatically

and most of the dollars go to international missions, we’ll keep giving

directly to international mission causes, and that percentage may even increase

in the days ahead. Our lay leaders in missions are ‘chomping at the bit’ to do

so today.”

Wright also called for an increase in funding for the North American Mission

Board “to help us reach our nation for Christ, with a primary focus on church

planting — especially in unreached areas.” Funding for the SBC’s six seminaries

also should “dramatically increase,” he wrote, to support the training of “thousands

of men and women who will lead the way in carrying out the Great Commission.”

“This is a major change that would need to be implemented over 3-5 years to

allow the state conventions to adjust in their planning,” Wright wrote. “But

implementation toward this goal needs to begin immediately with the state CP

budgets that will be planned in 2010.”

Wright, a native of the Atlanta area, holds a master of divinity degree from

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a bachelor of

arts in English from the University of South Carolina. After graduating from

college, he worked for Puritan Chemical Co. for two and a half years before

enrolling at Southern Seminary. After earning his M.Div., he was minister to

single adults at Second Baptist Church in Houston before accepting the

pastorate of the fledgling Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in December 1981.

Wright and his wife Anne have three children and three grandchildren.

Jimmy Jackson

Jackson was the SBC’s first

vice president for 2006-07 and has been senior pastor of Whitesburg Baptist

Church in Huntsville, Ala., for 31 years. (Read interview.)

“I’ve been encouraged to be a candidate for the Southern Baptist Convention

president,” Jackson told The Alabama Baptist. “As we move forward as a state

convention and the Southern Baptist Convention to reach the world for Jesus

Christ, I would like to be a part of that.

“As I’ve prayed about the opportunity, I have a peace about it and have

consented to be nominated.”

Jackson, who has led the Alabama Baptist convention the past two years, also

has served as first and second vice president of the SBC. He holds a divinity

degree and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Old Testament from New Orleans Baptist

Theological Seminary. He is a native of Greenwood, Miss., and a graduate of

Mississippi College.

Jimmy Jackson

He has been an assistant parliamentarian at the SBC’s annual meetings for

nearly 25 years. He is a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

and a former member of the SBC Executive Committee.

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile for Whitesburg Baptist Church

lists 163 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,556. The church

gave $295,748, or 4.64 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total

undesignated receipts of $6,364,921. According to the ACP, the church also

received $236,735 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International

Missions and $138,548 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North

American Missions. ACP data for 1978, the year Jackson became pastor, is not

available; according to data from 1980, the church gave $55,625 through the

Cooperative Program, or 4.57 percent, from $1,217,454 in tithes and offerings.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions,

described Jackson as “a statesman-like figure in Alabama Baptist life.”

“Jimmy has strong leadership qualities and has remained consistent through the

challenges of more than 30 years as pastor of one church,” Lance added.

If elected, Jackson would be only the second SBC president from Alabama in the

history of the SBC. Jonathan Haralson was the first Alabamian to fill that role


Under Jackson’s leadership, Whitesburg Baptist Church has grown from less than

3,000 members in 1978 to more than 7,000 today. Nearly 6,000 baptisms have

taken place at the church since he became pastor, The Alabama Baptist reported.

But pinning down those numbers just by talking to Jackson is pretty difficult

to do, several Whitesburg Baptist members told The Alabama Baptist, saying that

he’s never let the numbers become more important than the people they


“One thing about Brother Jimmy is that he’s never cared about the numbers,”

said Karen Tidwell, his executive assistant for the past six years and a church

member for more than 30 years. It’s always been about the people.

In fact, the names of the people who make up Whitesburg Baptist Church have

been on Jackson’s lips every day of all his years there, with The Alabama

Baptist recounting that one of his first requests as pastor was for a list of

members so that he could pray for each one by name every week. He has continued

that practice for 31 years, the paper reported, and he credits God’s response

to those prayers as an underlying source of strength for the church.

Jackson and his wife Bobbi will celebrate their 50th anniversary this June.

They have two grown children and six grandchildren.

Ted Traylor

“In this historic moment in Southern Baptist life, God has moved upon my heart

to nominate” Traylor, said Ed Litton, pastor of First Baptist Church of North

Mobile in Saraland, Ala.

(Read interview.)

Traylor told the Witness he agreed to be nominated “in response to the Lord’s

prompting and the encouragement of friends across the SBC.”

Anticipating the future, Traylor said his goal is “to serve and lead the

convention I love into a revival of the Great Commission in the days ahead.”

Ted Traylor

A member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, Traylor said his

involvement with the work has been “life changing.”

“The challenges that have surfaced demand spiritual revival and honest

evaluation,” Traylor said. “Together our Baptist people can touch the world

with the gospel.”

Litton said Traylor’s life “has exemplified a steadfast, faithful man of God.

Ted is a wise and joyful leader with an undying optimism for the work of God in

and through Southern Baptists. He embraces diversity of method without

compromising theological truth.”

He praised Traylor’s leadership of Olive Baptist, making the congregation a “soul-winning,

disciple-making church” which consistently has given 10 percent through the

Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified missions effort, in addition to

participating in “hands on” missions around the globe.

In November, Traylor will celebrate 20 years as pastor of Olive Baptist.

“Ted demonstrates that pure religion feeds, loves and cares for the hurting in

his own local mission field,” Litton said. “Through various innovative

ministries, Olive Baptist wraps the arms of Jesus around the drug addicted, the

hungry and the homeless of Pensacola.”

The Southern Baptist Convention needs Traylor’s “wisdom, courage and undying

optimism as we press forward to our greatest days of Kingdom work together,”

Litton said.

Information from the SBC’s 2009 Annual Church Profile for Olive Baptist Church

lists 270 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 3,105. The church

gave $731,080, or 10.1 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total

undesignated receipts of $7,213,206. According to the ACP, the church also

received $33,264 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International

Missions and $10,466 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American

Missions. In 1989, the year before Traylor became pastor, the church had

undesignated receipts of $1,923,165 and contributed $417,320, or 21.7 percent,

through the Cooperative Program.

Traylor is a trustee of the North American Mission Board and is chairman of

NAMB’s presidential search team. Among other denominational leadership

positions, he has been president of the Florida Baptist State Convention

(1995-96), SBC first vice president (2000) and president of the Southern

Baptist Pastors’ Conference (2004).

A native of Pisgah, Ala., Traylor pastored two churches in his home state and

three in Texas before joining Olive in 1990.

Traylor holds degrees from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he earned

both the master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees.

Traylor and his wife Elizabeth are parents to two adult children.

The author of three books, Traylor’s weekly radio and television ministry, “At

the Heart of Things,” reaches across the Gulf Coast region.

Ron Herrod

Evangelist Bailey Smith, a

former Southern Baptist Convention president and former pastor, will nominate


Ron Herrod

Herrod is the current

president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.

“I feel that Ron Herrod’s years of experience as a successful pastor, as an

anointed evangelist and as a man of integrity will serve him well in this

capacity,” Smith said.

After serving as a senior pastor of several Southern Baptist churches for more

than 35 years, Herrod launched R.H.E.M.A. (Ron Herrod Evangelism Ministries

Association) in 1995 based in Sevierville, Tenn. Herrod’s pastorates had

included First Baptist Church in Kenner, La.; First Baptist Church in Fort

Smith, Ark.; and Central Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

In addition to preaching hundreds of revivals and crusades across the nation,

Herrod has conducted mission projects in more than 30 countries. He has an

international tape ministry and has written seven books.

Herrod is a graduate of William Carey College (B.A.), New Orleans Baptist

Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and Luther Rice Seminary (Th.D.).

His denominational experience includes service as trustee of the International

Mission Board, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Louisiana College. He

has served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference

and vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.

Herrod and his wife Emily, who have been married 47 years, have three grown

children and eight grandchildren.

He is a member of Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Information from the

2009 Annual Church Profile for Grace Baptist lists 204 baptisms and primary

worship service attendance of 2,884. The church gave $174,999, or 3.76 percent,

through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $4,654,098.

According to the ACP, the church also received $20,000 for the Lottie Moon

Christmas Offering for International Missions and $2,128 for the Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Ray Newman

Tommy Fountain, who also is

director of missions for Mulberry Baptist Association in Hoschton, Ga., said he

will nominate Newman.

Fountain cited Newman’s stand on moral issues as the basis for the nomination.

Ray Newman

“In a time of moral and spiritual decline in our nation, Southern Baptists need

the voice of a Ray Newman,” Fountain said. “For the past several years, Newman

has stood for moral rectitude and righteousness under the gold dome of the

Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.”

In addition to his responsibilities with the Georgia Baptist Convention, Newman

serves as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty

Commission. For the past seven years, he has written a weekly column for the

Barrow County News titled “From Where I Stand.”

Newman is in his 50th year in ministry, the past 21 of those years as a state

missionary for Georgia Baptists. He served as a pastor for nearly 30 years.

John Killian, vice president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and pastor

of Maytown (Ala.) Baptist Church, said, “I do not know of a better man, more

qualified to serve our convention than Ray Newman. With his experience in

ministry and his knowledge of the current political issues, Ray is the man for

this office.”

A native of Phenix City, Ala., Newman and his wife of 45 years, Gwen, reside in

Winder, Ga. They have one son and four grandchildren. The Newmans are members

of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville.

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile for North Metro First Baptist

Church lists 110 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 2,129. The

church gave $376,014, or 12.99 percent, through the Cooperative Program from

total undesignated receipts of $2,892,419. According to the ACP, the church

also received $16,185 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International

Missions and $10,575 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American


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