J. D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, writes:

Yesterday the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention voted for president of the SBC. And then, because it was too close to call, they voted again. That was too close, too. So this morning, we were all prepared to vote a third time.

That third vote won’t happen, because the third vote won’t be necessary. I’m withdrawing my name from contention, and pledging my full support to Pastor Steve Gaines.

Steve didn’t ask me to do this. This was my idea. He was incredibly gracious when we talked about this and prayed about this last night. And we both sought counsel from some of the godly men that encouraged us to be nominated in the first place. Together, we feel this is best for the SBC and best for the Kingdom.

Through this whole process, I’ve been praying for unity. I know that Pastor Steve has as well. But if we go to a third vote, and one of us wins by one half of one percent, it doesn’t matter which of us it is—it’s hard to see how that makes us a united body.

The task for those of you who voted for me is not to complain that things didn’t go our way. It’s to follow the example of our Savior, who came not to be served, but to serve. It’s time for us to step up and get involved, to keep pushing forward and engaging in the mission with those who have gone before us. It’s time to look at what unites us.

We exist as a convention of churches because we believe that we can do more together than we can do apart. What keeps us from splitting into a thousand different directions is one thing: our unity in the gospel of Jesus. We stand together because God saved us, and we want to see him save others—whether that’s in our neighborhoods or on the other side of the world.

I came to this convention with the conviction that the best days for the SBC were ahead of us. And I’ll be leaving this convention with the very same conviction. The greatest works of God aren’t in our past; they’re in our future. It’s time again for us to expect great things of God, and to attempt great things for God. So stand with me as we lift up the arms of our brother, and the next president of the SBC—Steve Gaines.

The original statement is found on his blog, which is currently overwhelmed with traffic. Therefore I’ve been given permission to post it here.

Congratulations to Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee (a suburb of Memphis), who will become the 61st president of the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant body in the United States and the largest Baptist denomination in the world.