- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Rev. Ed Litton, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Tuesday he would not seek a second consecutive term as head of America’s largest Protestant denomination.

Instead, Mr. Litton said in a video posted to YouTube, he will devote his time to racial reconciliation.

The announcement follows a tumultuous year for the 14.1 million-member denomination, which is wrapping up a sexual abuse investigation, and which also lost two prominent members: ethicist Russell Moore and author and Bible teacher Beth Moore. The two Moores are not related.

In addition, Mr. Litton, 61, faced charges of plagiarism, causing Redemption Church in Saarland, Alabama, a Mobile suburb, to remove dozens of his sermons from YouTube.

Speaking on the March 1 video, Mr. Litton said “over the last eight months, it has been a tremendous honor to serve as the president of our great commission Baptist family.”

After noting the efforts Southern Baptists made to help in disaster relief and providing aid to refugees, he turned towards the question of race relations.

“I believe the Lord has opened the door for our larger family of churches to embrace a very simple strategy to pursue this kind of work that will bridge the racial divides throughout our communities throughout North America and bring about a Gospel-centered racial reconciliation,” he said in the video.

However, Mr. Litton added, “I believe this work is something God is calling me to do and to devote myself to for the next five to 10 years of my life. But I also believe that at this important moment in the life of our convention, it is best for me to do so as a pastor, and not from the office of president.”

He also alluded to the plagiarism issue, saying, “I take responsibility for my own failures and shortcomings, for mistakes I’ve made in the preparation and delivery of particular sermons.”

In addition, he said, “As we fought to emerge from two years of pandemic many of our pastors and churches are struggling. We’ve also navigated some painful conflicts and intense discussions right now.”

Mr. Litton also called on Southern Baptists to confront such issues as racism.

“We must not fail to reckon with our past mistakes, but we must commit to seeking for a better future where racism and prejudices are relics of the past, and our churches are safe places for survivors and welcoming and wanting people of all ethnicities,” he said.

Mr. Litton will become the first Southern Baptist president not to seek a second term since the Rev. Adrian Rogers declined to run again in 1981. Mr. Rogers, a theological conservative, later ran for the post again, winning elections in 1986 and 1987.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide