Originally created 11/13/97

Baptist convention chooses president



COLUMBIA -- The South Carolina Baptist Convention's new president said Wednesday he will work to keep church members unified, involve young people and launch a marketing campaign to spread the gospel.

The Rev. David Gallamore of Easley was elected Wednesday with 370 votes to 313 for the Rev. Keith Kelly of Wellford, who was a convention vice president this year.

The Rev. Gallamore, the pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church, said he was honored and humbled by his new office and said "I just pray for God's guidance."

The former McDonald's manager said his experience at the fast-food chain about 20 years ago led him to wonder whether the church also could benefit from advertising.

He said the church would begin a marketing campaign late next year that may include radio and television ads, billboards, and direct mailings to "target people who need the gospel."

He said the state's Baptists are unified despite the convention's decision Tuesday to withdraw $15,000 for the Christian Action Council, which earlier this year coordinated a prayer vigil for religious leaders who want to move the Confederate flag off the Statehouse dome.

The Rev. Bobby Eubanks of Ridge Baptist Church in Summerville introduced the resolution, citing theological differences and the council's intervention in the flag debate.

His move caught Baptist leaders and some delegates off guard as they deliberated next year's $25 million budget at the two-day annual statewide meeting.

Carlisle Driggers, the convention's executive director and treasurer, said the Rev. Eubanks had not said he would present such a motion.

The Rev. Gallamore also said the issue had not come up earlier.

"I have no idea what prompted (the Rev. Eubanks) to make that motion," he said.

The council, an ecumenical group active in civic and religious affairs, spearheaded last January's silent vigil and march in support of Republican Gov. David Beasley's call to move the flag.

The Rev. Eubanks and 15 other pastors objected, saying Mr. Beasley was driving a wedge through the church by making the flag a moral issue.

The Rev. Eubanks did not directly refer to the flag in his motion to reallocate the council's funds to the Baptists' Christian life and public affairs committee.

But he spoke about the vigil, questioning why the council had not been as active in moral issues like abortion.

"Early this year, the Christian Action Council rallied 500 pastors, went across and printed a lot of things in the newspaper about an issue that should have been left with the Legislature," the Rev. Eubanks said. "I would have loved to have those 500 pastors with our pro-life group."

The Rev. Eubanks said he did not know the Baptists supported the Christian Action Council until the flag issue came up.

The Christian Action Council has been aligned with South Carolina's Baptists for years in battling legalized gambling and relaxed liquor laws.