By Bob Allen
A Louisiana pastor was elected the 15th president of the National Baptist Convention of America, International, Inc., at the group’s June 23-27 annual meeting in Memphis, Tenn.
Samuel Tolbert, pastor of the Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church of Lake Charles, La., defeated incumbent president Stephen Thurston of Chicago and George Brooks of Nashville, Tenn., in a three-way race, according to a press release.
According to the National Council of Churches’ 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the National Baptist Convention of America, International, Inc., is the eighth-largest religious body in the U.S., with 3.5 million members. Among Baptist bodies, only the 5.1 million-member National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., and 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention are bigger.
Tolbert, 55, is former general secretary of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., and since 2005 has led as president the Louisiana Home and Foreign Missions State Convention.
He is a graduate of Bishop College in Dallas with a master of divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio, and is pursuing a D.Min. at the Stephen Olford Center at Union University in Memphis, Tenn.
Elected to a five-year term, Tolbert said he will pursue an agenda of renewal, reconciliation and revitalization among active, inactive and former members.
“The Lord has put it on my heart and given me the ability to organize our convention for effectiveness and efficiency as we move forward to serve this present age with purpose and power,” Tolbert said.