Former candidate for SBC President Mike Stone will run again according to a statement April 26. As is the custom, the candidate himself didn’t say that, but a friend, former FBC Dallas pastor Mac Brunson made the announcement. Stone’s candidacy, coming later in the cycle than most runs in recent years, pits him against incumbent Bart Barber.
Stone is campaigning on two main points: a biblical approach to sexual abuse that would include caring well for victims while “embracing scriptural principles of due process and of handling and publishing accusations,” and a commitment to a national evangelism initiative that he would call Crossover America.
The Blackshear, Georgia pastor has been critical of SBC’s use of Guidepost Solutions to investigate how denominational leaders had handled sexual abuse allegations in the past. “When abuse occurs, it happens in local churches, so our convention needs to resource local, autonomous congregations to deal with these matters biblically, legally, and compassionately,” he said.
Stone lost to Ed Litton in a runoff in 2021, although as the Christian Index from Stone’s home state pointed out, he had the most votes on the first ballot. Litton chose not to run for the customary second term, setting up a four-man contest in 2022, which Barber won.
Barber is a Farmersville, Texas pastor, a rancher with a Ph.D. in church history and a folksy demeanor. Barber has maintained a lower profile than some recent SBC presidents, apart from his CBS 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper. He has focused on operational issues and mostly out of the limelight.
In a sermon to the February Executive Committee meeting, Barber acknowledged “challenges that defy not only my understanding, but my courage and my boldness.” But he said Southern Baptists know the solution: relying on God. They’ve seen it, he said, “over and over and over again.”
– with info from Christian Index and Baptist Press