Leo Endel up for SBC presidency
David Williams, Editor, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist
May 14, 2010

Leo Endel up for SBC presidency

Leo Endel up for SBC presidency
David Williams, Editor, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist
May 14, 2010

MILWAUKEE — Leo Endel,

executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention (MWBC), will

be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the June

15-16 meeting in Orlando.

Speaking at the Kingdom

Growth Conference in Milwaukee May 13, Endel said a group of associational

missionaries, pastors, and lay people from western Iowa and eastern Nebraska

had asked him to consider the nomination.

“After much prayer and counsel,

I do believe the Lord wants me to allow the nomination,” he said. ”I am

much less certain of the outcome. It will be in His hands, and, of course,

I’m comfortable with that.”

Endel said he hopes a

candidate from a pioneer area of the convention “will add a new work

perspective to the SBC conversation.”

The nomination will be made

by Wes Jones, area missionary/church starter strategist for the Northwest and

Southwest Iowa Southern Baptist Associations.

Photo by Matt Miller

Minnesota-Wisconsin executive director Leo Endel will be one of four nominated for SBC president June 15.

“In March of this year, God began

to lay on my heart that Leo would be a good candidate for president of the SBC,”

Jones said, calling Endel “a man of God, respected by those he works with, able

to work with a diversity of people, and having a willingness to help others


Jones said that Endel did

not take the suggestion seriously at first, but when he contacted him again in

early May, Endel promised to pray about the possibility.

Endel is the fourth

announced nominee for SBC president, joining Georgia pastor Bryant Wright,

Alabama pastor Jimmy Jackson, and Florida pastor Ted Traylor.

Both Endel and Jones

compared his candidacy in a field of prominent pastors from Southern states to

David taking on Goliath. Endel also identified himself with another

biblical warrior who won the battle against great odds by depending on God:


“My conviction for moving

forward with this comes largely from the sermon God was writing in me for the

Kingdom Growth Conference, a message about Gideon, titled, ‘From Faithlessness

to Fearlessness,’” he said.

The Kingdom Growth Conference is an annual

preaching and teaching event sponsored jointly by Lakeland Baptist Association

of Milwaukee and MWBC, in partnership with the North American Mission Board and

LifeWay Christian Resources.

As he preached his sermon at

the 11:30 a.m. session of the conference, Endel said that during preparation

for the message, “I was overcome by a flash of the obvious: this sermon wasn’t

just for you; it was primarily for me.

“For many reasons I was

reluctant to allow the nomination; I did not see myself in that kind of role

and doubted my ability to be a strong voice in a conflicted and confused

convention. It would be a David and Goliath style miracle for a new work

leader, especially a state convention executive director, to be elected to this

role,” he said.

Mark Elliott, director of

missions for the Eastern Nebraska Baptist Association, Omaha, Neb., called

Endel “a man of deep faith and unquestioned integrity.”

“The Southern Baptist

Convention is at a crossroads,” Elliott said. ”A strong visionary leader

who has demonstrated a lifestyle of cooperation will be required for us to

choose the right path for the future. Leo is a man of God who is willing to

approach others with genuine humility, listen to others with a desire to

understand, and speak to others with heartfelt graciousness.”

Endel became MWBC’s third

executive director in May 2002, leaving an 11-year pastorate at Southern Hills

Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, which had grown in attendance from 35 to

around 500, sponsored three new churches, and increased missions giving while

undergoing two building programs.

When he left, Southern Hills was giving

13 per cent through the Cooperative Program, 3.5 per cent to the association,

and 2 per cent to local missions, primarily for church planting in Northwest


Endel’s father was in the

Air Force and his family moved from his birthplace of Tampa, Fla., to Anchorage,

Alaska, when he was six months old, and then moved 11 more times before his

high school graduation. Most of those years the family attended small Southern

Baptist churches near air bases in the upper Midwest, Alaska and the


He is a graduate of Central

Missouri State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is

currently a doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.