2010 SBC Annual Meeting
ORLANDO (FBW)—Bryant Wright, senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the June SBC annual meeting in Orlando, David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, announced March 11.
Wright is the first announced candidate for president in 2010. Current SBC President Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., is ineligible for re-election.
Wright, the 2006 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president, is “uniquely positioned to continue the much-needed focus on the Great Commission as set forth by Johnny Hunt and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force,” Uth, who will nominate Wright, told Florida Baptist Witness.
Uth successfully offered a motion at the 2009 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting to create at GCR-type study for Florida Baptists. Danny de Armas, executive pastor of Uth’s church, is chairman of the FBSC’s Imagine If Great Commission Task Force.
“Bryant has been a consistent leader among Southern Baptists who acknowledges and appreciates our traditional heritage while embracing some of the creative and innovative methods of reaching today’s generation for Christ,” said Uth.
Wright, according to Uth, is an “example of a missional mindset in leading his church to not only aggressively support the Cooperative Program, but to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and to other mission causes beyond his own church.”
Uth said Johnson Ferry “has had a strong missional emphasis from the beginning.” Wright is the founding pastor of the church, which began in 1981 with “about 20 families meeting in an empty doctor’s office,” according to the church’s website.
According to Uth, in 2009 the church gave “17 percent of budgeted receipts to mission causes and … last year alone more than 1,500 members went on 70 mission trips to 27 nations around the world.”
Uth said the church has started seven mission churches in Cobb County and north Atlanta and co-sponsored five other church plants.
Having spoken at Wright’s church, Uth said he has seen “firsthand the amazing work God is doing at Johnson Ferry.”
Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile for Johnson Ferry reports 459 baptisms and average weekly worship attendance of 4,383, with 6,121 resident members.
The church reported it gave $1,420,441 through the Cooperative Program, but actually half, $710,220.50, was given through the Georgia Baptist Convention CP and half was given directly to the International Mission Board, according to Joe Shadden, Johnson Ferry’s finance manager.
In an article published last fall in The Christian Index, the Georgia Baptist Convention newspaper, and early this year in the Witness, Wright explained his church’s decision “several years ago” to reduce its CP gift of 10 percent of undesignated receipts to 5 percent and give 5 percent directly to the IMB as a monthly budgeted contribution to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
In “A plea to Southern Baptists,” Wright wrote church members involved in volunteer missions were “absolutely appalled to find how high a percentage of our CP dollars stayed in the state and how little actually wound up on the international mission field.”
“We’d prefer that the full amount we give to Southern Baptist mission causes go through the CP, but until the formulas change dramatically and most of the dollars go to international missions, we’ll keep giving directly to international mission causes, and that percentage may even increase in the days ahead. Our lay leaders in missions are ‘chomping at the bit’ to do so today,” he wrote.
Shadden told the Witness during the 2009 budget year Johnson Ferry reduced CP and IMB gifts from 5 percent to 3.5 percent each as part of an overall budget reduction in response to the economic recession. With total undesignated receipts of $16,074,014 in 2009, the church gave 4.4 percent through CP and 4.4 percent to the IMB.
According to the 2009 ACP, the church gave a total of $3,048,759 in missions gifts, with $12,859 in designated gifts for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in addition to the church’s budgeted LMCO gifts, $20,565 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, and $160,740 for associational missions.
In the “Plea” article, Wright proposed state conventions should “strive to keep no more than 25-30 percent of the CP funds in the state,” in contrast to the current range of 43-86 percent. His proposal came in response to the SBC’s creation of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force last year and Jesus’ missionary mandate found in Matt. 28:19-20.
Wright also proposed that “at least 50 percent of the CP funds from our local churches go to the International Mission Board,” an increase in NAMB’s CP share to reach North America, and Southern Baptists “dramatically increase” CP funding to SBC seminaries.
“This is a major change that would need to be implemented over 3-5 years to allow the state conventions to adjust their planning. But implementation toward this goal needs to begin immediately with the state CP budgets that will be planned in 2010,” Wright wrote last fall.
Last month the GCRTF gave a “progress report” that does not specifically recommend a change in CP distribution between the states and SBC, but does call for ending over a four-year period of time cooperative agreements between NAMB and state conventions, as well as $50 million in annual funding by NAMB of state conventions.
According to Johnson Ferry’s website, Wright, a native of Atlanta, received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina and Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received an honorary doctorate from SEFOVAN, a seminary in Madrid, Spain.
While a student at Southern Seminary, Wright was pastor of Cove Hill Baptist Church in Carrollton, Ky., and later served as minister to single adults at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Tex., before being called to Johnson Ferry.
Wright and his wife, Anne, are parents to three children and have three grandchildren.
Wright is the founder of Right From the Heart Ministries and has published three books.
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