When pastors from across the country gather in Baltimore for the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting next week, they will decide who will follow in President Fred Luter’s shoes.
Luter will be ending his term as the convention’s first black president. He served two consecutive one-year terms, the maximum allowed under convention rules.
“He’s been a real good encouragement for Southern Baptists,” said the Rev. Brad Whitt, of Abilene Baptist Church, who said Luter is also his close friend.
Whitt will attend the convention Tuesday and Wednesday.
Running for the presidency this year are Ronnie Floyd, the pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.; Jared Moore, the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Ky.; and Dennis Kim, the pastor of Global Mission Church of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, Md.
“My prayer would be that the next president would consider challenging us to reach more people for Jesus,” Whitt said.
Whitt said he expects discussions at the meeting to deal with the decline in membership rolls and baptisms within Southern Baptist churches.
He also said there could be a statement with regard to where the church stands on the issue of Biblical marriage. In May, New Heart Community Church, a Southern Baptist church in La Mirada, Calif., voted not to dismiss its pastor, who changed his mind about homosexuality being a sin, which is a position long held by the convention.
Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his blog that the issue will force Southern Baptist churches and congregations to take a solid position either for or against homosexuality.