Georgia megachurch pastor Johnny Hunt, an American Indian, was elected by a majority on the first ballot over five other candidates, with his nearest competitor being Frank Cox, another Georgia megachurch pastor. The election came amid growing anxiety that the denomination had failed to translate its conservative revolution of the late 20th century into evangelistic success.
"We've been declining as a denomination," he said, alluding to statistics showing that baptisms, the measure of converts, are in a long-term decline.
Hunt, a member of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe, said he is "proud of my heritage," although he has largely been serving in white, Anglo congregations for the past three decades and said he doesn't view his role as a bully pulpit for American Indian issues.
He said he hoped he could help the convention expand its appeal to other ethnic groups, citing his congregation's Hispanic outreach.