As the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual convention slowly rolls to town in Greensboro (June 13-14, 2006), news came yesterday that a vehemently anti-LGBT pastor from Arkansas will be nominated to run for president of the the Convention, according to an article from the Biblical Recorder and Associated Baptist Press.
The Reverend Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the largest Convention Baptist church (First Baptist, Springdale) in Arkansas, will be nominated by withdrawn nominee The Reverend Jimmy Hunt, from First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia.
Floyd is well-known for his extreme position against LGBT people and is the author of The Gay Agenda (the sub-title of the book is “It’s dividing the Family, the Church and a Nation”). For more information on the book see it on Amazon.com (be sure to check out the “reviews”).
According to the ABP article:
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the largest Southern Baptist church in Arkansas, will be nominated as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) next month.
Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt, who until a week ago was the nominee favored by the SBC’s conservative leaders, will instead nominate Floyd, whose candidacy was first reported in Associated Baptist Press May 5.
“As most would know, I had been asked to have my name placed for nomination as president,” Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., said in a news release posted May 7 on the website of Floyd’s church, First Baptist of Springdale, Ark.
“In fact, at the Jacksonville pastors’ conference (in February) the announcement was made,” Hunt continued. However, “due to not getting the real peace I needed in my heart to do this,” he said, he called Floyd to say with “an equal conviction that I believed he was the man God had raised up for such a time as this to lead Southern Baptists.”
Hunt said Floyd “called me last Wednesday and informed me that he will humbly accept this nomination due to God speaking to him dramatically through Acts 16:6-10. He never sought it one moment, but was drafted supernaturally to let me nominate him to be our next president.”
This is the second time Hunt has stepped aside for another candidate. In 2004 he was in line to be elected president before current president Bobby Welch’s nomination was announced. Hunt ultimately nominated Welch, the Florida pastor who concludes his second term this year. Again this year, he will nominate the candidate who apparently will have the backing of the SBC’s conservative leaders.
The presidency has been the key to gaining and retaining control of the 16 million-member denomination and its agencies. The SBC’s inerrantist leaders have controlled the position for almost three decades, usually running unopposed.
Unlike most previous years, however, the leadership’s candidate likely will face opposition from one or more other factions in the convention – most notably a loose-knit group of younger conservatives protesting what they call the leadership’s narrow and exclusivistic track record. The election is set for the first day of the June 13-14 convention in Greensboro.
One of those “younger conservatives” mentioned in the excerpt above is Wade Burleson, head of the Oklahoma Baptist Convention. He took part in a gathering of young SBC conservatives in May. The gathering produced the “Memphis Declaration” calling out the SBC on its exclusivity and arrogance:
Burleson told ABP in March he is not interested in denominational politics. But he has sounded more and more open to a possible nomination in his recent weblog postings.
In a May 2 post that read like a campaign speech, Burleson tried to deflect the attention: “I frankly am too busy for convention work. I don’t want it, need it, or seek it. … If I believed a nomination to a position of service in the SBC would be detrimental to providing solutions to (the SBC’s exclusivism), I would decline that nomination without hesitation. I will do what I believe is best for the convention – period.”
Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., called for SBC leaders to abandon their cause of “convention conformity” and become more inclusive. “Unless we stop shrinking the parameters of what it means to be a Southern Baptist, we will end up being a narrow, isolated sect within Christendom and lose our ability to reach the world for Christ,” Burleson wrote.
Burleson participated in the meeting of younger conservatives May 2-3 that produced the “Memphis Declaration,” a statement of repentance for the triumphalism, arrogance and isolationism the signers said threatens the SBC’s integrity.
While it is clear that some of the Southern Baptist Convention’s anti-gay tactics and beliefs will continue, maybe we can hope for a more tolerant, respectful and civil mannered leadership when the Convention votes in June…. IN GREENSBORO! Thank God, I’ll be in Winston-Salem, LOL. But… that won’t get me away from the NC Baptist Convention… they meet in Winston-Salem EVERY YEAR.