SBC 2022: SBTC’s Barber becomes 47th president of Southern Baptist Convention

Bart Barber is the 47th president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the second Southern Baptists of Texas Convention pastor to serve in the role. BAPTIST PRESS PHOTO

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday following a long day of business that included the entry of a last-minute candidate into the race and a subsequent runoff.

Barber received 60.87% of the vote (3,401 votes) in the runoff to defeat Florida pastor Tom Ascol, who received 38.88% of the vote (2,172 votes). Among the 8,098 registered messengers, 5,587 cast ballots during the runoff.

The runoff was necessary after no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote after the first round of voting. Barber also led after that initial round, outpolling Ascol 3,258 votes (47.58%) to 34.06% (2,332 votes).

Robin Hadaway, a longtime pastor, missionary, and seminary professor who now lives in Southern California, and Frank Cox, senior pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., were eliminated after the first round of voting. Cox entered the race Tuesday morning.

Barber, 52, is the 47th president in SBC history and the second Southern Baptists of Texas Convention pastor to serve in the position. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, served as SBC president from 2002-2004. Barber, an Arkansas native who has pastored FBC Farmersville since 1999, is the 13th pastor from Texas to serve in the role.

A press conference with Barber is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Matt Henslee, associational missions strategist for the Collin Baptist Church and a member of FBC Farmersville, nominated Barber. Henslee called him a champion of Southern Baptist institutions and efforts including the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings, its seminaries, and both its state convention and local associations.

“As a convention, we stand at a crossroads,” Henslee said. “And I humbly submit to you that Bart Barber is the man for the moment. Bart Barber embodies the best of what it means to be a Southern Baptist. … We need a man who will unite rather than divide, who will build up rather than tear down.”

Barber, an ever-present voice on social media, ran a digital everyman campaign. In one of his first public statements after being announced as a candidate, he recorded a Twitter video in his pickup truck during which he extolled the goodness of both milkshakes and Ascol (whom he called a friend who “loves Jesus”). He posted other videos on SBC-related issues recorded from the seat of his tractor, while walking on his ranch with a herd of cattle milling around in the background, and in full Trail Life U.S.A. uniform prior to a meeting of that group at his church.

He inherits an SBC that has much to celebrate but challenges on the horizon. SBC Executive Committee Interim President/CEO Willie McLaurin reported on Monday that national Cooperative Program receipts are $11.2 million ahead for the first eight months of the 2021-22 fiscal budget, and the SBC will celebrate CP’s 100th anniversary in 2025.

At the same time, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. is working to address declining baptisms and the implementation of reforms on the heels of an investigation that identified failures in the area of sexual abuse care and prevention on the part of the SBC Executive Committee.

Barber replaces Ed Litton, an Alabama pastor who was elected SBC president in a runoff at last year’s annual meeting in Nashville. In March, Litton announced he would not seek a second term, as convention rules permit.

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Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
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