The Southern Baptist Convention elected its new president on Tuesday. Pastor Ed Litton, known for his work on racial justice, won the election, in a close vote.
The pastor of Alabama, Ed Litton was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday (SBC) in the second round against Conservative candidate Mike Stone. The New York Times reports that the vote was tight between the two candidates, Ed Litton having won the election by only 556 votes or 52% against 48% for the pastor of Georgia, Mike Stone.
Southern Baptists elect Ed Litton as their president, a defeat for the hard right https://t.co/Pnq6UutLVR
- Matthew Bell (@matthewjbell) June 16, 2021
According to the American Christian media, Christianity Today, Litton's election is seen as a sign in the direction of the largest Protestant denomination in the country which has recently experienced internal strife over issues of racism and abuse. Because the pastor Ed Litton is known for his commitment to the fight for racial justice as well as for its inclusion of women.
A message of unity
For Jacki King, who sits on the Board of Directors of the SBC Women's Leadership Network, “This vote shows that we desire a leader whose character, humility and voice for unity represent us all versus those who call for division. ". His friend Fred Luter, the first and only African-American president of the SBC, also describes him as a “unifier” with a “compassionate heart”.
It is indeed a message of unity that the new president of the SBC wanted to convey during a press conference after his victory, stressing the need for healing of his denomination. “We are a family,” he said. “At times we are incredibly dysfunctional, but we love each other,” the pastor continued. The newly elected president has announced that he will continue the efforts of his predecessor, JD Greear in appointing more women and people of color to faith committees.
He also asserted that tackling "pain and suffering" requires "intentionality" on the part of churches, adding that it is from his understanding of the gospel that his commitment to racial reconciliation stems and care for victims of abuse. He believes the SBC "needs the humility to listen to one another" and "come together around their core beliefs even if they don't agree".
Committed to the fight for racial justice, the pastor spoke on this subject within the framework of the Southern Convention, in particular he guided the efforts of pastors in the South of the United States to help them recognize and heal from their history marked by racism. He also joined with African-American pastors in opposing "any SBC movement that seeks to deflect attention from racial reconciliation through the gospel and denies the reality of systemic injustice."
With his wife Kathy, they have a tragic testimony. The Alabama pastor lost his first wife in a car crash 14 years ago, as did Kathy who lost her first husband, also a pastor with SBC. “We have both experienced a deep sense of suffering and pain in our lives that have changed us, and we believe we have changed for the better,” Ed Litton said, citing Psalm 34:18, which indicates that the Lord is near to broken hearts.
Camille Westphal Perrier
Image Credit: Eric Glenn / Shutterstock.com
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