Hunt elected on first ballot; tie-breaker needed for other race

Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Johnny Hunt topped a six-candidate field to win the Southern Baptist Convention presidency. But the initial vote for one of the vice presidential spots resulted in a tie.

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INDIANAPOLIS—Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Johnny Hunt topped a six-candidate field to win the Southern Baptist Convention presidency.

Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., received 3,100 votes, or 52.94 percent of the total, taking the SBC’s top post on the first ballot.

The presidential election featured the convention’s most crowded ballot in almost 30 years. When the SBC’s so-called moderate and conservative factions squared off for control of the convention in the 1980s, they each put up one candidate to carry the standard for their respective causes. This year harked back to a previous era.

Hunt, a longtime SBC insider, surprised convention observers by taking the presidency in one ballot. Other candidates and their vote totals and percentages were:

• Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., 1,286; 21.96.

• Avery Willis, retired vice president of the SBC International Mission Board, 962; 16.43.

• Bill Wagner, a former missionary and president of Olivet International University in San Francisco, 255; 4.35.

• Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville (N.C.) Baptist Church, 188; 3.21.

• Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., 45; 0.77.

Hunt “is a man with a heart for the nations,” stressed Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., who nominated him.

Last year, First Baptist in Woodstock “invested $3.3 million for SBC missions” in gifts to the convention’s Cooperative Program budget and contributions to the two missions boards and the Georgia Baptist Convention, Traylor said.

Under Hunt’s leadership, the church has started 28 congregations, and 165 members have been called into full-time missions service, he added.

Hunt also has “a heart for the next generation,” Traylor said, noting about 7,000 young ministers have gathered for Hunt’s Timothy-Barnabas mentoring conferences. Young pastors say of Hunt, “This is our hero,” Traylor said, claiming Hunt’s election would “send an instant message to that young generation that they have a place at the SBC table.”

Kentucky pastor Bill Henard won the SBC’s first vice presidency in a landslide. He defeated two challengers, receiving 1,748 votes—or 73.23 percent of 2,387 ballots.

Henard is pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and chairman of the board of the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources.

He defeated John Connell, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., who received 377 votes (15.79 percent) and Crist Camden, pastor of Oconee Heights Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., who got 224 votes (9.38 percent).

The initial vote for the SBC’s second vice president resulted in a tie.

John Newland, pastor of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, and Doug Mulkey, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Canton, Ga., both received 769 votes, or 30.24 percent each. A dead tie is unprecedented in SBC history, convention President Frank Page said.

The first ballot for second vice president eliminated two other nominees. Brian Fossett, an evangelist from Dalton, Ga., got 582 votes (28.89 percent), and Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Dakota Baptist Convention, garnered 381 votes (14.98 percent).

In the runoff, Newland received 470 votes (58.24 percent), defeating Mulkey, who garnered 332 votes (41.3 percent).

The SBC’s two secretaries won re-election without opposition.

They are Recording Secretary John Yeats, public relations director for the Louisiana Baptist Convention and member of Ridge Avenue Baptist Church in West Monroe, and Registration Secretary Jim Wells, director of missions for Tri-County Baptist Association in southwest Missouri and a member of Hopedale Baptist Church in Ozark.

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