An African-American seminary dean has been nominated as a candidate for first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination founded by slave-owners.
According to a statement shared with The Christian Post on Tuesday evening, Lee Brand, Jr., vice president and dean of the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary of Memphis, Tennessee, was nominated for the position.
According to Article V of the Southern Baptist Convention's Constitution, the denomination officers include a first vice president and a second vice president.
“In case of death or disability of the president, the vice presidents shall automatically succeed to the office of president in the order of their election,”explains the SBC Constitution.
In an interview with CP on Wednesday, Brand said it was “a great honor” to be nominated “to serve in any national leadership capacity within an organization like the Southern Baptist Convention,” the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
“I believe the Bible and am convinced that Baptist distinctives align with it. This role will allow me to be an advocate for both the Bible and Baptist distinctives,” said Brand.
“If elected, I want to tap into my pastoral and leadership experience to improve the relationships and trust among pastors, church planters and the SBC.”
Brand was nominated by James Lewis, pastor of DeSoto Hills Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi. The formal nomination process for officers will occur in June when the SBC gathers in Nashville, Tennessee.
According to his biography on the seminary website, Brand earned a bachelor of science from Mississippi State University and then earned a master of divinity at the seminary he now serves.
He served as senior pastor of Beth-el Missionary Baptist Church in Starkville from 2002 to 2019 and held other roles with the Northeast Mississippi Baptist Congress and the Whitefield District Association.
The first vice president is involved in assorted decision-making matters and usually presides over part of the SBC annual meeting, giving what Brand calls “a strategic voice to speak into matters facing our convention.”
“I want to continue efforts to plant the convention firmly on the sufficiency of Scripture and ensure it maintains a premier focus on evangelism,” continued Brand.
“The SBC is rightly pursuing people of every ethnicity to join its efforts. My aim is for the SBC to champion a biblical approach to diversity, not diversity at any cost.”
The nomination of Brand for first vice president comes as a new nomination for SBC president was announced earlier this week. SBC’s first African-American president, Fred Luter, nominated Alabama Pastor Ed Litton.
“I have known Ed Litton for over 20 years. Our relationship started when we preached for each other as part of the SBC Racial Reconciliation Sunday during the month of February,” explained Luter, who served as SBC president from 2012-2014, to the Baptist Press.
“From there, our relationship developed to more than just colleagues to bring races together. We both shared the hope of drawing people closer to a relationship with Jesus Christ and then growing disciples for Christ. In both of our churches, our focus has been the same all of these years."