North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was elected Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president June 12 during the 2018 annual meeting in Dallas, two years after conceding a closely contested election to lead the denomination.
Greear beat out former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Ken Hemphill by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent to become the denomination’s youngest president in 37 years.
The newly elected president succeeds Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines who served two one-year presidential terms from 2016 to 2018.
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 (ACP). 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.
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 achieved 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 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 2017’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.
Priorities as president
At a press conference following his election, Greear said his priorities as president will include gospel focus, diversity, evangelism, church planting, collegiate ministry and engaging younger Baptists in the SBC’s cooperative mission. He also said women should “sit at the seats of influence” in the convention and that Southern Baptist entities and churches must be “safe places for women to report abuse.”
Greear and his wife, Veronica, have four children. He holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. (BP)
Other SBC officers
• A.B. Vines — first vice president
• Felix Cabrera — second vice president
• John Yeats — recording secretary
• Don Currence — registration secretary
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