Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on Tuesday, June 14, after winning in a runoff against Florida pastor Tom Ascol.
In the initial vote, Bart Barber received 3,258 votes (47.58%), Tom Ascol received 2,332 votes (34.06%), Frank Cox received 887 votes (12.95%), and Robin Hadaway received 340 votes (4.97%).
Since none of the candidates received at least 50% of the vote, a runoff was required to take place between Barber and Ascol. In that vote, Barber received 3,401 votes (60.87%) and Ascol received 2,172 votes (38.88%).
Barber’s win came as a victory for sexual abuse survivors and advocates, as Barber has been publicly supportive of the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) and reforms in the SBC with regard to abuse prevention and reporting.
“As far as who I hope to win the SBC, I cannot put the burden of leadership on a single person. Celebrity culture breeds abuse,” abuse survivor and advocate Hannah-Kate Williams told ChurchLeaders. “All I know is that Bart Barber is someone I love and respect, and Tom Ascol is someone who has caused I and others much harm.”
Barber’s Nomination Speech
This year’s Pastors’ Conference President and Assistant Preaching Pastor at First Baptist Church of Farmersville Matt Henslee gave Barber’s nomination speech. Henslee described the 52-year-old pastor as someone who is a “champion for Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, staunch supporter of our seminaries, trusted leader in his local association and state conventions, passionate protector of religious liberty, tireless defender of the unborn, relentless personal evangelist, faithful prayer warrior, and a steadfast advocate for survivors of sexual abuse.”
Henslee said that the SBC needs a man who will unite rather than divide, saying, “We need a man who will build up rather than tear down. We need a man who can lead us through the battleground of our disagreements to the common ground of our cooperation, so that we can tell the world about that even ground at the foot of the cross.”
“Brothers and sisters, we must never be unconcerned about the direction in which the SBC we love is headed,” Henslee went on to say, thanking God that His Word makes it so we never have to wonder what that direction needs to be.
Barber’s President-Elect Press Conference
Barber addressed the media the morning after his election, expressing his excitement for leading the SBC as its newly elected president. The 23-year pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville read a prepared statement, referring to the previous day as historic.
Below is his statement:
Yesterday was an historic day for the Southern Baptist Convention. One year ago, Convention messengers created the Sexual Abuse Task Force and demanded that the investigation be thorough, unflinching, and unredacted. For a year, this process has been unfolding, and although there have been many twists and turns, our convention’s polity has worked in the end.
The messengers wanted to see the facts. We have seen the facts, and we have mourned them. Yesterday, in response to the report, the messengers have indicated this year that they now want our Convention to act.