Two pastors will allow their nominations for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in an early bid for the June election at the Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Similar early declarations in 2022 ultimately produced a three-man race with a lot of public discussion, as SBC presidential candidates usually don’t “campaign.”
The announcements come at the same time the latest nominee for the paid permanent position of SBC Executive Committee President and CEO withdrew his name from consideration.
Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone announced his intention to run for SBC President in a news release by the California pastor who will make the nomination.
“Mike Keahbone is the real deal, a leader who loves the Lord, loves the SBC, and strives every day to make it better. He is a son of the SBC, and I am convinced he is more than ready to step up and step into the role of president,” Victor Chayasirisobhon said.
Keahbone is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lawton, Okla. He has served as a member of the SBC Executive Committee since 2021 and is the vice chairman of the SBC’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force. Before that, he was a member for the Sexual Abuse Task Force. Keahbone has frequently spoken on behalf of abuse survivors.
A Native American with heritage from the Comanche, Kiowa, and Cherokee tribes, Keahbone served on the 2023 SBC Resolutions Committee and helped write the resolution on “the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report” which was adopted by SBC messengers.
FBC Lawton budgeted 6% for the Cooperative Program in the current fiscal year, and averaged 623 in attendance last year.
The first candidate to declare was Charlotte, North Carolina pastor Clint Pressley. He has served Hickory Grove Baptist Church as senior pastor since 2010, and before that was pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama.
Pressley “has led his church to plant and revitalize other churches, send missionaries, and sacrificially give to the Cooperative Program and Great Commission causes,” said Chris Justice, a North Carolina pastor who will make the nomination.
“Clint Pressley loves the Southern Baptist Convention and the mission that holds us together,” Justice said in a news release. “I know him to be a man of conviction who is joyfully orthodox, devoted to the Great Commission, and committed to our cooperation as Southern Baptists.”
Pressley’s leadership roles have included a term as SBC First Vice President in 2014-15. He was also active in advancing what was called a “traditionalist” Baptist theology when the convention was engaged in debate over Reformed theology.
Hickory Grove Church gave 2.4% to the Cooperative Program in 2023, and a near equal amount to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The church averaged 2,632 in attendance last year.
The election of a successor to current SBC President Bart Barter will be just one of the votes that draws Southern Baptists to the Midwest for the annual meeting June 11-12 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.
– IB staff with additional reporting from Baptist Press and the Biblical Recorder