Greear, Hemphill announced as candidates for SBC president

February 9, 2018

North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear (above, left) and former seminary president Ken Hemphill (above, right) will be on the ballot for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president during the SBC annual meeting June 12–13 in Dallas.

Florida pastor Ken Whitten plans to nominate Greear.

Greear is “all about what Southern Baptists have been all about” and will give Southern Baptists the opportunity to impact another generation, Whitten said.

‘Established record’

A coalition of Southern Baptists announced their intention to nominate Hemphill in the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Baptist Message newsjournal on Feb. 1.

Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director David Hankins said, “We desire to elect a man who is a Southern Baptist through and through, values our understanding of the gospel, and has an established record of affirming the cooperative work of our local churches through the associations, state conventions and national entities.”

Hankins said Hemphill met those characteristics. Hankins and Hemphill said a decision is forthcoming on an individual to make the nomination at the SBC annual meeting.

“It’s always better for Southern Baptists when we have several good candidates” for convention president “because it gives us an opportunity to exercise our congregational polity” and discern the Holy Spirit’s leading “in a corporate context,” Hemphill said.

Greer, pastor of The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, was nominated two years ago at the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, but neither Greear nor current SBC President Steve Gaines received a majority of votes on the first or second ballot for president. So Greear withdrew his candidacy and moved that the convention elect Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee, on the third ballot.

In a statement Greear said he had agreed to the 2018 nomination. “The basic things that God laid on my heart haven’t changed from 2016,” Greear wrote, “and I feel more committed to them than ever.”

Among themes Greear would emphasize as SBC president, he wrote, are “the gospel above all” as the convention’s source of unity; “cultural and racial diversity”; “intentional, personal evangelism”; “church planting”; and “engagement of the next generation in cooperative giving and mission.”

Hemphill, 69, is an administrator at North Greenville University, a private Baptist university in Tigerville, South Carolina. He was president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, from 1994 to 2003 and national strategist from 2003–11 for the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis.

Hemphill has pastored churches in Kentucky and Virginia and led the Home Mission Board’s (now the North American Mission Board) Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth in the early 1990s.

Hemphill holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a doctor of philosophy from Cambridge University in England.

Growing church

Greear, 44, holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

In his 16 years as pastor at The Summit, worship attendance has grown to just under 10,000 and has 158 members serving as missionaires and has planted 248 churches, including 208 outside the U.S.

The Summit gives 2.4 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program (CP), according to the Annual Church Profile.

That amount made The Summit the top CP-contributing church in the state in terms of total dollars given in 2016 and again in 2017 — a total of $1 million between those two years. (BP)