Florida pastor and president of Founders Ministries Tom Ascol announced Tuesday (March 22) he will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the SBC’s annual meeting in Anaheim, California, June 14–15.
Voddie Baucham, dean of theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, announced on the same day he will be nominated for the SBC Pastors Conference president.
Both candidates have been endorsed in a joint statement by Founders Ministries, which is described as “committed to encouraging the recovery of the gospel and the biblical reformation of local churches.”
Ascol is the second candidate to be announced for SBC president in recent weeks. Florida pastor Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida, announced his intention to be nominated following the news that Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, would not seek a second term.
Baucham is the second candidate to be announced for president of the Pastors Conference; Daniel Dickard, pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, also plans to be nominated.
In its endorsement, the Founders Ministries noted, “We, concerned Southern Baptists of differing geographical, theological and vocational perspectives, in one voice nominate Pastor Tom Ascol for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and SBC Missionary Voddie Baucham for president of the SBC Pastors Conference.
“The Southern Baptist Convention badly needs a change of direction,” the statement said. “While baptisms and evangelism continue their freefall, a small group of leaders steers our institutions ever closer to the culture, from radical feminism masked as ‘soft complementarianism’ to the false gospel of critical theory and intersectionality … We reject these worldly dogmas.”
Among the 11 people who signed the statement were Lee Brand, current SBC first vice president; Georgia pastor Mike Stone, a 2021 candidate for SBC president who lost in a runoff vote to Litton; Mark Coppenger, former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a retired professor from Southern Seminary; and Kelvin Cochran, vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom. Baucham, Stone, Cochran and Coppenger are all members of the steering council for the Conservative Baptist Network, which describes itself as a “partnership of Southern Baptists where all generations are encouraged, equipped and empowered to bring positive, biblical solutions that strengthen the SBC in an effort to fulfill the Great Commission and influence culture.”
Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral for 36 years, discussed his decision to become a candidate for SBC president in a video posted on the Founders Ministries website. While highlighting the SBC’s vital role in theological education, disaster relief and missions, Ascol also shared his concerns for the convention.
“I certainly have concerns about the SBC … and if I can be useful and helpful in that then I’m willing to do that,” he said “I’m just an ordinary pastor. I pastor a typical size [Southern Baptist] church, and it’s churches like ours, pastors like me, that I think just haven’t been given opportunity to have our concerns genuinely heard.”
Ascol is a graduate of Texas A&M and received his master of divinity and doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Donna and they have six children and 15 grandchildren.
In addition to his role with African Christian University, Baucham is described on his ministry website as a former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker and church planter.
The statement from Founders Ministries said Baucham is “one of the most faithful expositors of our day, a day in which sound preaching is more important than ever. He will give the exact kind of leadership needed for the SBC Pastors Conference.”
Baucham is the former pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist church he planted in Spring, Texas, where he served until 2015. Though Baucham is no longer a member of the church, he was sent out by Grace Family Baptist to serve as a missionary in Zambia, where he is the member of a church, Religion News Service reported.
In an interview with The Baptist Paper, Matt Henslee, president of the 2022 SBC Pastors Conference, explained that even though Baucham is not a member of a Southern Baptist church, this does not disqualify him from serving as president of the conference. He noted the conference currently does not have a constitution, bylaws or official qualifications regarding the person elected to serve as president.
Typically, through the years, Henslee noted, the “gentleman’s agreement” has been that the pastors conference president is a Southern Baptist pastor, historically one who is serving a church near the SBC annual meeting site.
“Voddie’s area of emphasis is cultural apologetics,” his website noted.
Baucham is married to Bridget and they have nine children.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was updated March 23.