Steve Gaines, current president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and J.D. Greear, whose forthcoming nomination for the office was announced Jan. 29, came to a mutual agreement in recent weeks that Gaines should not nominate Greear, as he offered to do in 2016, because of potentially negative influences on future elections.
“We agreed that it would not be a good precedent for sitting presidents to get in the habit of nominating the next president,” Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, told the Biblical Recorder.
J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., left, and Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., right.
Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., said after they discussed the matter, he thought such a move would be “imprudent” and “potentially dangerous.”
Greear emphasized that Gaines was not breaking a pledge or official commitment from 2016.
Both men had intended to drop out of the race in attempts to curb potential division caused by the election, which had produced two close, indecisive votes. After some discussion, Greear decided to withdraw, and in response, Gaines expressed willingness to nominate Greear for SBC president two years later.
Greear told the Recorder that Gaines’s impromptu comment “ought to be classified as a statement of support rather than some well thought out promise to nominate.”
Both men highlighted the importance of unity in the SBC.
“Steve is a personal friend and great leader in our convention, and one I was happy to follow,” said Greear. “He emphasized two vital things in the life of our convention – the importance of prayer and the primacy of personal evangelism. Both were timely and prophetic calls, and both are great foundations we must continue to build on.”
Gaines said, “I will never forget our time together at the SBC [annual meeting] in St. Louis in 2016. J.D. was so supportive of me then, and has continued to be supportive and encouraging to me over the past year and a half as I have served as president.”
Greear said, “There are not really two sides in this convention … we want to go forward together.”
Gaines added that Greear would enjoy his “full support” if elected president at the 2018 annual meeting June 12-13 in Dallas, Texas.
“He is a wonderful pastor and preacher,” Gaines said of Greear. “He has preached for us at Bellevue and our people loved him. He is extremely evangelistic. The church he leads is growing and baptizing hundreds every year. I believe J.D. is a magnanimous, gifted leader who would seek to be a unifier among all the various groups within the SBC.”
Gaines also told the Recorder that, if Greear is elected this year and decided in due course to bid for a second term, he would be willing to nominate Greear for re-election in 2019.