Kentucky Baptist Convention Elects First Black President

Tom James, left, hands off the president's gavel to Kevin Smith, who was elected the first African-American president in Kentucky Baptist Convention history. Smith is teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. (Photo by Robin Cornetet/Kentucky Today)
Tom James, left, hands off the president’s gavel to Kevin Smith, who was elected the first African-American president in Kentucky Baptist Convention history. Smith is teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville. (Photo by Robin Cornetet/Kentucky Today)

Messengers to the 178th annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention elected an African American as convention president, called for an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood and launched a strategy to boost their voice at the state capitol.

Messengers also approved a $21.5 million Cooperative Program budget goal for the coming year, raising the bar by a quarter million dollars. The 2016-2017 budget equally divides Cooperative Program receipts between KBC missions and ministries and Southern Baptist Convention causes, allocating $10,750,000 to each after deducting 7 percent for shared CP resourcing.

Kevin Smith, teaching pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, made history Nov. 10 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown by becoming the first African American to be elected president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Smith was nominated by Lincoln Bingham, senior pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church at Shively Heights in Louisville. The race-relations pioneer in Kentucky for more than three decades highlighted Smith’s contributions as a champion for racial reconciliation, church revitalization, evangelism and missions.

“The Kentucky Baptist Convention is ready for the first African American president,” Bingham said. “Smith is a Cooperative Program champion and has proven that he is a quality, committed leader.”

Among five adopted resolutions, the messengers spoke out against the selling of the remains of thousands of aborted babies, calling on lawmakers to immediately defund the Planned Parenthood organization. One-third of Planned Parenthood’s $1.3 billion budget reportedly comes from the federal government.

“The senseless killing of unborn babies and selling of body parts from those babies” is condemnable, according to a resolution passed by messengers.

Planned Parenthood, an agency providing about one out of every four abortions in the U.S., was the target of a hidden-camera sting that revealed the practice of selling aborted baby parts for research. In nearly a dozen videos, the Center for Medical Progress secretly recorded Planned Parenthood officials acknowledging they harvest tissue for scientific research.

“The horror of Planned Parenthood’s murder and selling of babies can no longer be tolerated in our society,” said KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood.

Kentucky Baptists also formally renounced racism and pledged to pursue cooperative fellowship with all Christian brothers and sisters.

“A biblical worldview requires all Christians to unite together in order to advance the gospel,” the resolution stated. Therefore, “we renounce and oppose all forms of racism which distort the message of the gospel.”

In separate resolutions, messengers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote, and they objected to a growing anti-Christian bias in society, calling on judges to treat followers of Jesus with the respect and dignity afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Todd Deaton

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