Southern Baptist president won’t seek second term

Published 1:52 pm Thursday, March 3, 2022

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Ed Litton, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, announced Tuesday he will break with tradition and not seek a second term in the top convention role. Litton, with his 2021 victory, prevailed in a run-off against ultra-conservative pastor Mike Stone of Georgia. Litton won 52 percent of the votes among more than 15,000 delegates at a meeting roiled by controversy and a power play by the denomination’s ultraconservative wing. He said he plans to spend the next decade promoting racial reconciliation at the local level, something he thinks is best done “as a pastor and not from the office of president of the SBC.”
Litton, the pastor of Redemption Church in Alabama, said a group of Christians, who convened in Mobile after the killing of Michael Brown, the 28-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has continued to meet at a local car dealership and has grown in membership over the years.
“Southern Baptists at our best are grassroots people,” Litton said. “This movement for racial reconciliation should be a grassroots movement.”
His own strategy to promote racial reconciliation locally will involve a “simple three-step process that anyone in the church can start in the community,” Litton said.
“It focuses on getting to know one another, finding what we have in common and celebrating our differences,” he said. “The next step would be to have times of assembly and to ask God to move us closer to each other. And finally, we need to go into our communities and serve their needs.”
Litton believes he has accomplished his goals as president. He appointed a task force to investigate how sexual abuse allegations were handled. The task force is expected to release a report shortly before the convention’s national gathering slated for June 12-15 in Anaheim, Calif. During the meeting, Litton said, he will lay out a strategy whereby churches can begin the process of reconciliation at the local level.

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