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,
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
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.
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.”
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,”
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.
Evangelist Bailey Smith, a
former Southern Baptist Convention president and former pastor, will nominate
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.
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.
“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
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