Writer: Barbara Denman
North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was elected Southern Baptist Convention president June 12 during the 2018 annual meeting in Dallas, two years after conceding a closely contested election to lead the denomination.
The newly elected president succeeds Memphis-area pastor Steven Gaines who served two one-year presidential terms from 2016-2018.
Greear, 45, who was nominated by Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla., received 5,410 votes, for 68.62 percent margin.
Also nominated for president was Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University in South Carolina and former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was nominated by Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La., receiving 2,459 votes, for 31.19 percent.
A total of 7,884 ballots were cast for president from the 9,467 messengers registered at the time. Fifteen ballots — or .19 percent — were disallowed.
Other SBC officers elected June 12 are A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, Calif., first vice president and Felix Cabrera, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, second vice president. John Yeats, state executive of the Missouri Baptist Convention, was reelected as recording secretary, as was Don Currence, minister of children and administration at First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., as registration secretary.
Whitten, in nominating Greear, said the North Carolina pastor is the “one man that has proven he fits the bill in every way” to lead the SBC. He wants to lead us “back to the heart of evangelism and missions,” Whitten said. He noted Greear’s integrity, clarity and unity as qualities that will serve him in this role as SBC president. The Summit has baptized 1,300 people over the past two years and leads North Carolina in CP giving, Whitten added.
During the 16 years Greear has led The Summit Church, worship attendance has grown from 610 in 2002 to just under 10,000, according to statistics available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 631 in 2017 at the church’s nine campuses.
Summit has planted 248 churches to date, including 208 outside the U.S., with a goal of starting 1,000 churches in 50 years, according to North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder newsjournal.
Over the past two years, Summit has given a combined $1 million through the Cooperative Program (CP), making it the top CP-contributing church in the state in terms of total dollars given in 2016 and again in 2017.
In 2017, Summit gave 2.4 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP, the same percentage it gave in 2016, according to ACP data confirmed by the church.
Five years ago, Summit voted to increase its giving through CP to 2.4 percent of undesignated receipts over five years, but the congregation acheived that goal two years early, the church reported.
In 2016, Summit began channeling all funds it regarded as CP gifts through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, rather than forwarding some directly to the SBC Executive Committee for distribution according to the CP Budget Allocation formula, as it had done previously.
Summit said its Great Commission Giving totaled $3.8 million (19 percent of undesignated receipts) in 2017. Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified program of funding state- and SBC-level ministries, as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.
Included in last year’s Great Commission Giving was $3,542 through the local Yates Baptist Association, according to ACP data, a 700 percent increase from the church’s associational giving in each of the previous four years.
Funding for Summit’s 40 Southern Baptist church plants is included in its Great Commission Giving as well, the church reported.
Some 158 Summit members are serving as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries, the Biblical Recorder reported, with 17 in the “limitless pathways” initiative to mobilize missionaries who continue to work in secular careers while partnering voluntarily with an IMB team.
He and his wife, Veronica, have four children. Greear holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.