DALLAS, TX – Thousands of Southern Baptists have gathered for their annual meeting – and at the top of their list is selection of a new leader for the next year.
"Messengers" representing the more than 15 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention will conduct important business over the next couple of days in Texas. One of those decisions will involve selecting a new president for America's largest Protestant denomination. Two men will be nominated: Dr. J.D. Greear, a 45-year-old North Carolina pastor; and 70-year-old Dr. Ken Hemphill, the former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Louisiana pastor Brad Jurkovich, who will officially nominate Hemphill, says the election shouldn't be about the younger generation versus the older generation. He contends it should be about what the SBC needs now with the combination of challenges that face the denomination.
"You've got three major entities* that need presidents appointed at some point – you've got divisive issues all around, whether it's on theology or just trying to make these moves forward on racial reconciliation," the pastor explains. "[For] all these things ... we need everybody in this. It really can't be a young versus old. It needs to be every generation, every age, [and a] passion for Christ."
While he feels both candidates bring great leadership qualities to the table, Jurkovich believes Hemphill is the right person for this time.
"God is raising up this man at a strategic moment, and one of the key things for me is he has the time to invest in this role as president," he tells OneNewsNow. "To move the ball forward in any of these challenges and opportunities, it takes communication, it takes relationship-building, it takes a knowledge of this vast Convention."
There has been a last second addition to the schedule: Vice President Mike Pence will make a speech to Southern Baptist messengers on Wednesday.
* SBC Executive Committee, International Mission Board, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary