Kentucky Baptists elected an identified fundamentalist as president, ending a trend in recent years of sidestepping Southern Baptist Convention controversy by choosing politically neutral leaders.
Hershael York, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who has been a pastor of SBC-affiliated churches just seven years, won election over Rusty Ellison, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, by a vote of 686-627.
According to newspaper reports, York said he would appoint only committee members who espouse biblical inerrancy. "I believe grass-roots Kentucky Baptists believe the Bible from cover to cover," he said.
York also said he desired to end what he viewed as estrangement between state convention officials and Southern Seminary since the school moved from moderate to fundamentalist leadership. He said he would like to draw from the seminary faculty for convention programs and tap students for missions in areas of the state lacking churches.
In addition to being a professor of preaching, York is pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort. Before joining the seminary faculty in 1997, he was pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, a formerly independent church which had only recently rejoined the SBC and publishes the "Trail of Blood" booklet popular with independent Baptists.
In other business, messengers voted 510-444 to reject a proposal by convention leaders to study how the Kentucky Baptist Convention might relate to the Baptist World Alliance in light of the SBC's departure from the global fellowship group this summer. Messengers also overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to allow non-Baptists to serve on the state's Baptist colleges.
Elsewhere this week, Baptists in North Carolina voted down a proposal to the floor to do away with the state convention's multiple-giving plans that allow churches to allocate their missions gifts to non-Southern Baptist entities including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The measure, offered by Ted Stone from Durham, was opposed by convention leaders, including Executive Director Jim Royston, who said it would be divisive.
While the Baptist World Alliance won't be getting any new support from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Association of Virginia last week voted to apply for membership in the BWA and to increase funding for the organization.
The motion restored Virginia Baptists' "historic and strategic relationship" with the BWA, which Executive Director John Upton was automatically severed when Southern Baptists voted to leave the group in June.
An SBC study committee recommending the pullout alleged liberalism and anti-Americanism as reasons, but some observers believe it had more to do with acceptance of the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship into BWA membership. The BGAV, which is in one of three states with separate moderate and fundamentalist conventions, supports both the CBF and SBC.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.