Candidates with South Carolina ties win key SBC posts

Four candidates with South Carolina ties — Alex Sands, Nathan Finn, Daniel Dickard, and David Sons — made history in Anaheim, winning key leadership posts within the Southern Baptist Convention.

Sands, senior pastor and planter of Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, was elected as the SBC’s second vice president in a runoff against Michigan pastor Rodolfo Diaz-Pons. Of 3,552 ballots cast, Sands received 2,121 votes (59.71 percent) while Diaz-Pons received 1,426 (40.15 percent). In the initial balloting, Ryan Fullerton, a Kentucky pastor, was eliminated.

Josh Powell, lead pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., and immediate-past South Carolina Baptist Convention president, nominated Sands.

“Alex represents the best of who we are as Southern Baptists and I cannot commend him enough,” Powell said. “Alex is committed to his family, his church and the fulfillment of the Great Commission in every area of his life. He has served faithfully in our convention life,” noting that in addition to serving on several boards, Sands most recently was the first African-American to lead the South Carolina Baptist Convention as president in 2021.


Finn, provost at North Greenville University, became the first person to be elected recording secretary in 25 years. He succeeds John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, who had opted not to seek reelection.

Of 5,315 ballots cast, Finn received 2,727 votes (51.31 percent), defeating Javier Chavez, of Georgia, who received 1,836 votes, and David Roach, of Alabama, who received 741 votes.

In nominating Finn, David Sons, pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, S.C., described Finn as “a world-class scholar, a faithful preacher of God’s Word …, a voice for the gospel, and a dear friend.” He added, “I know of no one better qualified to tell our story, to help express and encapsulate our cooperative efforts, than one who has dedicated his life and ministry to doing that very work.”

Daniel Dickard


Daniel Dickard, an Anderson native who now serves as senior pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., was elected president of the 2023 SBC Pastors Conference.

He defeated African Christian University’s dean of theology Voddie Baucham, garnering 690 (50.85 percent) of the votes cast to Baucham’s 608 (44.8 percent).

In his nomination speech, Jordan Easley described Dickard as a pastor in the trenches “who is studying and preparing, preaching and praying, and shepherding week by week just like all of us. On Sunday mornings, you will find Daniel in a Sunday school class teaching the Bible. He’s greeting people in between services, and like many of us do every week, he is preaching the perfect Word of God faithfully.”

Easley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Tenn., said he nominated Dickard because of Dickard’s love for the Southern Baptist Convention, his admiration for pastors both young and old, and his desire to lead a conference that blesses, equips, encourages and motivates pastors in their ministries.

“What a great privilege and honor it is to serve Southern Baptists,” Dickard told Baptist Press after the vote results were announced. “My goal has always been to be a unifier. I want to bring all sides together. This event is about encouraging pastors, and that’s always been the purpose — and that’s going to continue to be the purpose next year,” he said.

Dickard, an alumnus of North Greenvile University, is planning for the conference’s theme to be “Character Matters in Ministry,” focusing on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12.

David Sons


Sons, lead pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, S.C., was elected vice chairman of the SBC Executive Committee after being nominated by Adron Robinson. Sons ran against EC member Philip Robertson.

In a ballot vote, Sons received 32 to Robertson’s 28. According to EC bylaws, a person must receive a majority of votes out of the current number of members, not merely a majority of votes of those present. When Sons’ 32 votes left him two votes short of the total needed, Robertson withdrew. Sons was then elected by acclamation.

“I think what Philip [Robertson] did is hopefully indicative of how we want to go forward from this point as a committee,” Sons said. “We want to have humility, unity and a desire to serve the messengers. We are here to serve our convention of churches, and we want to do so with faithfulness, humility, integrity and a sense of grace that was modeled here by Philip.”

Jared Wellman, lead pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, who is in his second term on the Executive Committee, was elected chairman. Sons is in his first term of service.

By virtue of the position, Wellman will serve on the search team tasked with selecting a candidate for EC president and CEO.


For the top SBC post, Bart Barber, a pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, was elected SBC president. Barber won in a runoff with Florida pastor Tom Ascol, receiving 3,401 votes (60.87 percent) to Ascol’s 2,172 (38.88 percent).

In the initial balloting, Frank Cox, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Robin Hadaway, of Oceanside, Calif., were eliminated.

Barber, 52, was the chairman of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee. He preached at the 2017 SBC Pastors Conference, served as first vice president of the SBC from 2013 through 2014, served on the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention executive board from 2008 through 2014, served as a trustee for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2009 through 2019, and on the SBC Committee on Committees in 2008.

“Bart Barber embodies the best of what it means to be a Southern Baptist,” said Matt Henslee, a New Mexico pastor and the 2022 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference president. “He has faithfully and graciously engaged at every level as a champion for Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, a staunch supporter of our seminaries, a trusted leader in his local association and state convention, and passionate protector of religious liberty, tireless defender of the unborn, relentless personal evangelist, faithful prayer warrior, and a steadfast advocate for survivors of sexual abuse.”

In other SBC elections, Victor Chayasirisobhon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, Calif., and president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, was elected first vice president, and Don Currence, administrative pastor at First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., was elected registration secretary. Currence has served as registration secretary in 2018, 2019 and at the 2022 annual meeting in Anaheim.

The 2023 SBC annual meeting is scheduled for June 13-14 in New Orleans, La.