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On Tuesday, the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual National Meeting, where Ed Litton, 62, was elected as the new president of the organization. Litton is the pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, a congregation with 3,900 members. The other candidates for the position were Emmanuel Baptist Church pastor Mike Stone and Al Moore, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler. Litton won 52% of the votes.

Litton’s Wife of 25 years, Tammy, was killed in an automobile accident in 2007. Two years later he married Kathy Ferguson, the widow of another SBC pastor killed in a 2002 car crash.

“He will do a good job because he has character and integrity, he operates in humility, he trusts and lifts up Jesus, he has suffered and experienced the love of God in the midst of great grief,” Alan Cross wrote on the blog SBC Voices.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in religion and theater from Grand Canyon University, a private Christian university in Phoenix, and later received a Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During his early years of ministry, he spent his time in Arizona and Texas. Since 1994, he has served as lead pastor of Redemption Church, an SBC church.

In 2020, racial tensions flared after the presidents of the SBC’s six seminaries, all white, issued a statement repudiating critical race theory, a term used to describe critiques of systemic racism.

Many see Litton as a pastor who can help Southern Baptists unite and avoid an exodus of minority members worried about whether they have a future home in the conservative denomination.

He told reporters Tuesday night, “I think in some ways, I was ready to go home. I told my church last week, I said, ‘If next Wednesday morning I wake up and I’m just your pastor, I am so good with that.’ The highest honor of my life is to pastor a local church. But I also have a deep burden for people that I love. And I want to do whatever I can to help us pull this together. I’m not Superman. I have no magic.”

In his campaign video, Litton said that God gave him four focuses — unity, gospel engagement, diversity, planting and revitalizing. Litton told reporters he considered it an honor to serve as SBC president and would work to “iron out some of our differences.”

“I want to continue broadening ethnic diversity on our boards to reflect who we actually are and who we’re becoming,” he said. “I want to build bridges. Where necessary, we have to repair burned bridges.”

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