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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

Hi there! I'm Kimberly Yow, a passionate journalist with a deep love for alternative rock. Combining my two passions, I've found my dream job. Join me on this exciting journey as I explore the world of journalism and rock music.

Southern Baptists’ Nuanced Divides on Display at Annual Meeting

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From a wider slate of six candidates, president Clint Pressley takes the “strange honor” of leading the convention’s growing factions toward missional unity.

In the weeks before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, newly elected president Clint Pressley finished reading Malcom Gladwell’s book on precision bombing in World War II, Erik Larson’s bestseller set in the lead-up to the Civil War, and a history of a 19th-century mutiny on a Royal Navy vessel.

A few years ago, these stories could have been a metaphor for the convention. Back then, an even more conservative wing had emerged with literal pirate flags and a rallying cry of “take the ship,” and the previous few presidential races pitted a Conservative Baptist Network (CBN) candidate against a more traditionalist nominee.

But the 2024 slate wasn’t split between two factions. Southern Baptists decided among six presidential candidates and took a historic three rounds of voting to elect Pressley—a sign of the ranging positions and priorities among the country’s largest Protestant denomination.

Pressley, a sharp-dressed 55-year-old North Carolina pastor, steps into the presidential role knowing the challenge of finding consensus among today’s Southern Baptist leaders from autonomous churches, who sometimes clash with each other on ministry styles, theology, or the work of the convention—and whose clashes are increasingly on display online.

He didn’t refer to the presidency as a battle to win but as a chance to dampen divisions and bring unity.

“As a convention, we want to be unified around not only our understanding of the Bible and love for the Bible, love for the gospel, and love for the mission. We’re unified around the Baptist Faith and Message that we affirm,” Pressley said. “There’s a lot that we can really be glad of.” …

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