Home Christian News J.D. Greear’s Legacy as Southern Baptist President: Grappling With Abuse, Pushing Diversity

J.D. Greear’s Legacy as Southern Baptist President: Grappling With Abuse, Pushing Diversity

He is committed to racial/ethnic diversity.

“This past year 51% of our appointees were people of color and nearly 60% were women,” he said. “63% of new churches started last year were by people of color so I think our future is bright as we continue to grow in this area.”

The Rev. Rolland Slade, chair of the SBC Executive Committee and the first African American in that role, commended Greear for his intentionality about having racial and ethnic diversity among SBC leaders.

“He’s tried to make sure that folks that are appointed to various committees represent Southern Baptists,” Slade said in an interview on the eve of the annual meeting. “Our committees and, subsequently, appointments, nominations need to reflect what Southern Baptists really look like.”

He also is committed to evangelism.

One of Greear’s last acts as president was to encourage participation in a new SBC initiative that aims to get young adults involved in mission work by devoting their first two years after college to helping start new churches.

“If the Mormons can do it for a false gospel,” he preached in his final presidential address on Tuesday (June 15), “then how much more should we do it for the true gospel of Jesus Christ?”

He also urged Baptists of all ages to focus on evangelism rather than some of their current debates, which have included fights about race, gender and politics.

“God has not called us primarily to save America politically,” he said. “He has called us to make the gospel known to all.”

He tried to keep his sense of humor.

“Three years ago when I was given the honor of being elected your president, I don’t think any of us had any idea what lay ahead,” he said in his presidential address. “It’s been a long 30 years these last three years.”

Despite the challenges, Greear said he’d been grateful to represent Southern Baptists as their president. Yet, he also seemed more than ready to return more of his focus to his North Carolina megachurch.

“And so we came together for a few days, we prayed, we trusted God, we made some decisions. And we’re going to be sent back now to our communities in order to reach our world,” he said as the annual meeting concluded Wednesday. “And then I will hand the gavel to (new SBC President) Ed Litton. And tomorrow morning I will wake up a happy pastor of a local church in Durham, North Carolina.”

This article originally appeared here.