First Baptist Church Pastor Bart Barber was elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention in the recent annual conference in Anaheim, California last Tuesday.
Barber won in a second ballot runoff with 3,401 messenger votes or 60.87 percent of the vote against Grace Baptist Church Senior Pastor Tom Ascol who garnered 2,172 votes, or 38.88% of the vote, The Christian Post reported. A runoff vote was held between Barber and Ascol because no candidate obtained enough votes on the first ballot to be elected president after the first ballot results were released.
Other nominees for SBC president were North Metro Baptist Church Pastor Frank Cox and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Senior Professor Robin Hadaway. Florida Pastor Willy Rice was also considered as SBC president and accepted his nomination, yet he dropped his campaign owing to an alleged personal pushback.
Barber received 47.58 percent of the vote which had 6,847 messenger ballots cast, followed by Ascol with 34.06 percent, Cox with 12.95 percent, and Hadaway with 4.97 percent in the first ballot runoff.
Barber Pledge To Seek Survivors' Rights
Barber's success served as an optimistic sign that his suggestions for abuse reforms will move forward next year after being considered by a new task group, Christianity Today reported. Josh King, the lead pastor of Second Baptist Conway in Arkansas, considered this victory for the convention as well as for sexual abuse reform.
According to his wife Jacki King, a Bible teacher, the vote highlighted a significant difference within the church however the majority believed that they must correct their mistakes and care for survivors. In his response to the Sexual Abuse Task Force Report, Barber promised to fight for survivors' rights and said sorry for listening late. He said that SBC should show how committed they are to loving them to the fullest extent and seeking justice for them within their values.
Barber will succeed SBC President Ed Litton, who stated in March that he would not run for a second term, making him the first president of the SBC in decades to do so. He adopted the denomination's response recommendations to the landmark abuse report released last month.
Pushing SBC's Abuse Response Reforms
On the same day, Southern Baptists agreed to overhaul their denomination's response to abuse, including implementing the abuser database that survivors have long demanded. A new task team, which will be nominated by the next SBC president, would be charged with developing the new website as well as analyzing potential changes over the next year.
In his address, former SBC President Litton said the church could not claim they're the world's largest missionary-sending organization if its hearts lack compassion and its mission lacks global vision. Referencing what Jesus asked in Matthew 17, he said "Southern Baptists, how long shall I stay with you? Southern Baptists, how long shall I put up with you?"
As the resolution passed at the SBC annual meeting, two survivors in attendance hugged and cried, as proponents of the measure applauded. Sexual Abuse Task Force Advocate Rachael Denhollander the success of the result would have a positive impact, especially on those abused individuals who were still afraid to speak up.