Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga., and immediate past chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC), will be nominated for SBC president at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, per an announcement Jan. 13 by fellow Georgia pastor Kevin Williams.
“At this critical moment in our history, Southern Baptists need to be led by a trusted local church pastor with strong convictions about the sufficiency of scripture, a passion for evangelism, and deep experience in the work of our convention,” said Williams, the current Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) president and pastor of First Baptist Church of Villa Rica, Ga. “Pastor Mike Stone is a trusted leader among Georgia Baptists and I believe he is the kind of experienced pastor and statesman Southern Baptists need.”
The announcement did not disclose who would nominate Stone at the annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held June 15-16 in Nashville.
Stone, a member of the steering council of the recently formed Conservative Baptist Network, served for five years on Emmanuel’s staff before becoming pastor in 2002. Since then, Emmanuel has averaged 9% given annually through the Cooperative Program (CP) and contributed approximately $2.5 million through December 2020. According to the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Emmanuel increased its giving in 2020 to $226,097 of its $2.1 million (10.4%) in undesignated receipts through CP, after giving $103,217 (of $2,296,887; 4.5%) in 2018 and $27,614 (of $2,195,116; 1.3%) in 2019.
Stone is the second announced nominee for SBC president, joining Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. Stone told Baptist Press (BP) he spoke with Mohler Wednesday morning.
“I did not seek this out; I feel like it’s a case of the position seeking the person,” Stone said. “But God confirmed this in my heart and my wife’s heart through a set of circumstances. As I shared with Dr. Mohler this morning, I’m not running in opposition to anyone, but being obedient to God to what I sense is His call on my life.
“I truly feel the SBC will be best led by a pastor. With deep gratitude for an entity leader’s influence, the SBC is a convention of churches and needs leadership that is daily in tune with the local church.”
Don Hattaway, Stone’s predecessor at Emmanuel and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Douglas, Ga., told The Christian Index Stone “is the man Southern Baptists need to lead us through the challenging days ahead.”
“He has a devoted life, a brilliant mind and a compassionate heart,” Hattaway said. “His biblical fidelity, moral integrity and vast experience will serve us well.”
Stone has regularly appeared as a speaker at revivals and Bible conferences throughout the Southeast. Under his leadership, Emmanuel has averaged 65 baptisms per year. In addition to his role as EC chairman, Stone has also served as GBC president and chairman of the GBC EC.
Florida pastor Tom Ascol, president of Founders Ministries, said the SBC needs a president “responsive to the concerns and convictions of its churches.”
“Pastor Mike and I do not agree on every point of theology, but the challenges facing our Convention call for Reformed and non-Reformed alike to stand together on our common love for the Savior and His gospel for the sake of our collective mission,” Ascol said.
Gerald Harris, former editor of The Christian Index, said, “In the course of my lifetime, few men have come along with such perfect gifts and abilities to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mike Stone is one of those men. And he is the man for this hour.”
Mohler was originally announced as a nominee in October 2019 for the 2020 annual meeting. After that gathering was canceled due to COVID, Mohler agreed in October to accept the nomination for president in 2021. He will be nominated by H.B. Charles, senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Stone told BP, “A nominator has not been announced yet.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.)