An organized campaign is underway to elect Ken Hemphill for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), including a website, social media accounts and promotional content backed by the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC).
Image captured from kenhemphill2018.com
The site, kenhemphill2018.com, includes articles about his upcoming nomination, podcast episodes featuring Hemphill and a series of video interviews hosted by a Vimeo account owned by the LBC.
Hemphill told the Biblical Recorder that he began working on content for the site soon after his candidacy was announced. Students from North Greenville University, where Hemphill serves as an administrator, filmed and produced the video interviews. LBC Communications Director John Kyle created the website, which is stored on LBC internet servers.
David Hankins, LBC executive director, said “a number of people” have been involved in the website’s development.
“Our communications team gave counsel. We have a lot of people writing articles, a wide ranging group of people,” he told the Recorder in a phone interview.
“We are glad to host the website because we believe it is in the best interest of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and we are excited about the opportunity for people to know Ken Hemphill and how he can lead us as the next president.”
Hankins declined to name other individuals involved in the campaign, but he said some have already made on-record endorsements and more names will be made public in the future.
When asked if voter mobilization or other campaign efforts were underway, Hemphill said he is “coordinating hearing sessions” with pastors in Tennessee and other regions. Some Southern Baptists have contacted him “spontaneously” to ask questions about his candidacy and other issues, he said.
Asked why he believes a direct promotional effort is necessary, Hemphill said, “I am deeply passionate about the Southern Baptist Convention … and I felt like this may give me an opportunity – even if it’s short-lived, just four or five months, whatever God has in store – to really talk about some things that are a concern to me.” He named a decline in Cooperative Program giving, both in dollars and percentages, as one of those concerns and said his focus is “revitalizing our denominational partnerships.”
Some Southern Baptists have questioned the propriety of both an open campaign for SBC president and direct support for such an effort by a state convention.
Hemphill objected to the perception of formal electioneering.
“I wasn’t trying to run a campaign,” he said. “I was trying to communicate some values that I think are important. … and how to communicate these convictions in the broadest method.”
Hankins called the effort a “grassroots campaign where rank-and-file Southern Baptists are trying to exercise their opportunity and duty to shape their convention.”
Hemphill’s forthcoming nomination was announced Feb. 1 by an unnamed “group of distinguished Southern Baptists,” according to a news report from Louisiana’s Baptist Message.