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June 10, 2002






Graham, Pressler, McCall top SBC leadership
___By Marv Knox
___Baptist Standard
___ST. LOUIS--The Southern Baptist Convention elected the builder of one of its largest churches and the architect of its controlling political movement to its top offices June 11.
___ New President Jack Graham and First Vice President Paul Pressler did not face opposition during balloting at the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.
___ In a contested race for second vice president, California pastor E.W. McCall Sr. defeated two other pastors.
___ Messengers also re-elected the convention's recording secretary but declined to re-elect its longtime registration secretary.
___ Graham is pastor of the 20,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, a Dallas suburb. Prestonwood averages more than 12,000 people in worship each weekend and has added more than 2,000 new members per year during the 13 years he has been its pastor.
___ Graham already is an "admired and respected leader" in the SBC, said Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., who nominated him.
___ Graham was president of the SBC Pastors' Conference in 1992 and now is a member of the SBC Executive Committee. His "PowerPoint" preaching ministry is transmitted broadly via radio, television and the Internet. Recently, he was named television preacher for the "The Baptist Hour," a weekly worship program produced by the SBC's North American Mission Board.
___ In addition to Prestonwood, he has been pastor of First Baptist churches in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Duncan, Okla.; and Hobart, Okla.; and East Side Baptist Church in Cross Plains, Texas. He also has been associate pastor of Sagamore Hill Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
___ He is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
___ He and his wife, Deb, are the parents of a daughter and two sons.
___ Pressler is credited with being a co-designer of the movement that gained control of the convention during the past two and a half decades. Fellow conservatives have called that movement the "conservative resurgence," while moderates--who lost control of the convention in the process--have called it the "takeover."
___ Decades ago, Pressler teamed up with Paige Patterson, now president of the SBC's Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, to launch the movement. They realized that by continuously electing like-minded SBC presidents, they could direct the process for nominating and electing trustees of SBC institutions. The plan succeeded, and by the early 1990s, they controlled all SBC institutional boards.
___ Throughout the process, Pressler tirelessly traveled the nation, meeting with lay groups and pastors, decrying what he called "liberalism" in the SBC and rallying people to attend the SBC annual meetings to vote for the presidents.
___ In nominating Pressler, Richard Land lauded Pressler for championing the cause.
___ "He took it to the common Baptist people, who have been, are and always will be people of God's holy book," said Land, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "All of us who call ourselves Southern Baptists owe an incalculable debt to this great Christian, to this great Christian statesman."
___ Pressler, a retired Texas appeals court judge, has been a member of the SBC Executive Committee and International Mission Board.
___ He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Texas School of Law.
___ McCall, the second vice president, is pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church in LaPuenta, Calif. He received 61 percent of 2,469 votes cast for the office.
___ McCall has served on the SBC Committee on Committees. He also has been chairman of the board of trustees of California Baptist University and is past president of the African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention.
___ The other candidates for the office were Robert Collins, pastor of Plaza Heights Baptist Church in Blue Springs, Mo., a Kansas City suburb, and Ernie Don Rogers, pastor of First Baptist Church of Beaver, Okla.
___ Recording Secretary John Yeats, editor of the Baptist Messenger, weekly newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, was re-elected by acclamation. But Lee Porter, who has served the convention as registration secretary since the 1978 annual meeting, lost to Jim Wells, a director of associational missions from Branson, Mo. Wells received 1,839 votes, compared to Porter's 1,222.
___ In nominating Wells, Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., focused on two reasons for electing someone other than Porter as registration secretary. First is that Porter has served for 25 years, while SBC presidents are limited by constitution to two years of consecutive service.
___ "We as Southern Baptists believe in shared leadership," Floyd said. "It's time we practice what we believe. One way you do this is to share the leadership of this very strategic position."
___ Second, Floyd affirmed electing a like-minded officer, saying of Wells, "He is one of us."
___ Porter first was elected to office before the conservative sweep of power in the SBC. However, despite recent years of political infighting, he survived numerous challenges. After this year's election, Porter declined to comment extensively on the end to his 25-year tenure.
___ He said he has "no problem" with his defeat. "I've ducked this many times," he said.
___ Porter did not keep track of the number of years he was challenged for the office, he said. Even though he was challenged, his credibility and the integrity of the SBC voting process was not questioned throughout his tenure--which spanned the most contentious political period of the SBC's history.
___ Floyd made a "good political speech," he said. Specifically, he cited Floyd's contrast of Porter's long period of service to the two-year presidential policy. He also noted Floyd's overt appeal to elect someone who has been part of the conservative movement within the SBC.
___ Porter was a longtime employee of the SBC Sunday School Board, editing the Advanced Life & Work Bible study material. In retirement, he lives in Panama City, Fla.
___

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