ST. LOUIS (BP)—Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention by acclamation when his closest challenger, J.D. Greear of North Carolina, withdrew from the race after two votes failed to yield a clear winner.
After praying, Greear told the convention, he was convinced Southern Baptists “need to leave St. Louis united.”
In the first ballot cast by 5,784 messengers, New Orleans pastor David Crosby received 583 votes or 10.08 percent; Gaines received 2,551 votes, or 44.1 percent of the votes; and Greear received 2,601 votes, or 44.97 percent. None of the candidates received 50 percent or more of the votes.
Following a runoff between Gaines and Greear, SBC President Ronnie Floyd reported 4,824 ballots were cast, and to be declared the winner, one candidate needed to win 50 percent plus 1 of ballots cast—at least 2,413 votes.
Gaines received 2,410 votes or 49.96 percent, and Greear received 2,306 votes or 47.80 percent, while 108 votes were considered illegal because the wrong ballot was used or an indistinguishable mark was made. Roberts Rules of Order required that the 108 illegal votes be counted to determine a majority, Floyd said.
A second run-off election between the two pastors had been scheduled, but Greear withdrew.
In nominating Gaines, former SBC President Johnny Hunt characterized him as “a man of deep, intense prayer” who has “a passionate desire for spiritual revival in our churches and nation.”
During the 11 years Gaines has been pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile database. Previously, he was pastor of churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
Bellevue voted to give $1 million—about 4.6 percent of undesignated receipts—during its 2016-17 church year through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified channel for funding missions and ministries.
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Compiled by David Roach of Baptist Press, with reporting from Barbara Denman, director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention