A month after it was announced that Brad Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ada, Okla., would be nominated to serve as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, he has confirmed that he wants his name to be withdrawn from consideration.
Graves made his decision after being told that Jacksonville Pastor H.B. Charles Jr. also was going to be nominated as the 2018 Pastors’ Conference president when Southern Baptists gather next month in Phoenix for this year’s Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting.
Graves said he spent considerable time in prayer on the topic Tuesday night and Wednesday, and he also got a phone call from Charles talking about his own nomination.
His prayerful conclusion?
“I really believe we need only one candidate for these high positions,” Graves told the Florida Baptist Witness Thursday morning. “I really believe it is my time to step aside and show support for [Charles]. Let me take that stress off you. It is never a loss when you can join God in His work.”
Graves said he thinks that Charles, if elected, will put on “an amazing conference. There really is no loss here.”
And he recognizes the importance of Charles potentially being the first African-American to hold this position.
“The nation is watching us,” Graves said. “The culture is watching us. Hopefully this will encourage others to say, ‘Look, if God’s in this let’s get behind it.’ Our Convention is really diverse. Having HB up there will really show that we’re diverse.”
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor