When Southern Baptists gather in Dallas next month for their annual meeting, one of their tasks will be to select a new president for the denomination. OneNewsNow had a chat with one of the candidates.
Southern Baptist "messengers" will choose between Dr. J.D. Greear, a 45-year-old North Carolina pastor who ran a close race two years ago and eventually dropped out to avoid a convention fight; and Dr. Ken Hemphill, who currently is the interim pastor at a church in Missouri. Dr. Hemphill, 70, has been in Southern Baptist leadership for decades, as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a national strategist out of Nashville until 2011.
"The situation and circumstances in our denomination have changed dramatically in two years, and I think as a denomination we are congregational," Hemphill shares. "We want to seek the will of God in this."
His name was put forward by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which has complained about an erosion of how local churches, associations, state conventions, and the national convention function together. Hemphill says he understands the concern.
"I wanted to run basically to really share my heart about some of these partnerships that are so critical to us, the cooperative way that we do giving and ministry – and I've been able to do that," he tells OneNewsNow. "So I feel very good about whatever the response is at Dallas."
And while many in Southern Baptist circles are working hard to get their preferred candidate elected, Hemphill and Greear both say they aren't in competition with each other. "J.D. and I are friends, and we both agreed that we would not in any way criticize the other person – and I think we've both been faithful to that," says Hemphill.
OneNewsNow has reached out to Greear and is looking forward to speaking with him before Southern Baptists convene on June 12.