Northwest Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd will be nominated as president of the Southern Baptist Convention next month in Greensboro, N.C.
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., announced Sunday he planned to nominate Floyd, senior pastor of the 16,000-member First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and a sister congregation, The Church at Pinnacle Hills, to the post.
Hunt had been asked to run for president and was made public at a pastors’ conference at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., in February, but he told his church April 30 he declined to be nominated.
In a press release dated Sunday, Hunt said he never got “the real peace I needed in my heart to do this.” He said called Floyd a month ago and told him that, and at the same time asked Floyd to consider being nominated.
Floyd called him last Wednesday, Hunt said, saying “he will humbly accept this nomination” because God spoke to him through Acts 16:6-10, the story of Paul’s vision of a Macedonian man pleading with the apostle to “cross over … and help us.”
Floyd made national news in 2004 when Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS alleging his July 4 patriotic sermon crossed a line from appropriate political speech to a partisan endorsement of President Bush. IRS rules prohibit groups that receive tax-exempt benefits from endorsing candidates.
If elected, Floyd would be the first Arkansan to hold the post since eight-term Congressman Brooks Hays, who was elected SBC president in 1958 and 1959. He is the first candidate to formally announce he will be nominated, but most observers expect a contested race at the June 13-14 convention in Greensboro.
Fueled by controversy over new policies tightening doctrinal requirements for International Mission Board missionaries, the meeting is being billed as the most important SBC annual meeting since 1990, the last year of a decade of turmoil before moderates withdrew from convention politics and formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship the following year.
Floyd will celebrate his 20th anniversary as pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale this October. He is a graduate of Howard Payne University with a master of divinity and doctor of ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He served 10 years as a member of the SBC Executive Committee and two years as chairman. He was on a committee that recommended a major restructuring of the convention bureaucracy in 1995 and was on the search committee the recommended the election of Executive Committee president and CEO Morris Chapman in 1992.
Floyd’s church reported giving 3.6 percent of its undesignated receipts to the SBC Cooperative Program unified budget–well below a 10 percent threshold recently recommended for SBC leaders. But the church is among the top 100 in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions and conducts an average of 12 international mission trips a year.
According to a church Web site, $2.6 million-plus was given last year to world evangelism and missions by First Baptist Church and The Church at Pinnacle Hills.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.