Arkansas Pastor is New Southern Baptist President
An Arkansas megachurch pastor was elected Tuesday to lead the country’s Southern Baptists as the conservative denomination tries to turn around declining membership, church attendance and baptisms and faces increasing conflict with mainstream culture, especially over its conviction that gay sex is immoral.
Later on Tuesday, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination is scheduled to consider a resolution opposing the idea that gender identity can be different from a person’s biological sex. And a motion made from the floor by one Southern Baptist Convention delegate asks the group to discipline a Southern California church that has stopped preaching against homosexuality.
In nominating the Rev. Ronnie Floyd for president, the powerful head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Rev. Albert Mohler, told the crowd of 5,000 meeting in Baltimore, "The nation is embracing a horrifying moral rebellion that is transforming our culture before our very eyes."
He warned of "direct challenges to our religious freedoms and churches" and said Floyd is the person who can "convey our message in the midst of the most trying times."
Floyd received 52 percent of votes from delegates to the SBC annual meeting. Floyd beat out the Rev. Dennis Kim, the Korean-American pastor of a bilingual Maryland church, who received 41 percent of votes.
For 27 years Floyd has been the pastor at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, where about 8,500 people worship each week at its several locations.
Floyd succeeds the Rev. Fred Luter Jr., who became the 15.7-million-member denomination’s first African-American president in 2012.