Just hours before the nomination of candidates for the position of president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a fourth candidate emerged. Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., will join Florida pastor Tom Ascol, Texas pastor Bart Barber and California missiologist Robin Hadaway in the contest, which will begin this afternoon, June 14.
Cox will be nominated by Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. He appears to be another centrist candidate with extensive denominational service to his credit.
The race already was anticipated to be tight, with Hadaway billing himself as the local candidate, Barber identifying as the centrist candidate and Ascol as the disrupter from the far right. Ascol’s allies immediately responded to the Cox nomination by saying it was a ploy to draw votes away from Ascol and hand the presidency to Barber.
Ascol is the candidate of the Conservative Baptist Network, which believes the SBC is sliding into liberalism and wokeness. In other elections Monday, Conservative Baptist Network candidates were defeated uniformly. However, the presidential race could be different because of the makeup of those who will be voting and because Ascol scored an endorsement from former SBC President Jack Graham on Sunday.
On Monday, Ascol also was endorsed by Jenna Ellis, former legal counsel to Donald Trump who has been a chief mouthpiece for Trump’s lie that he was cheated out of the 2020 election. Speaking on Ellis’ podcast June 13, Ascol called Baptist News Global and Julie Roys of The Roys Report akin to the devil and the antichrist.
Cox has led the Atlanta-area church since he served as a trustee for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 2011 through 2019 and chaired the board from 2017 to 2019. Cox also served as a member of the SBC Executive Committee from 1997 to 2006. He served as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1997 to 1998.
Cox’s entry into the race does not change one important dynamic: None of the three pastors in the race serve megachurches, a first in recent history for the SBC. North Metro Church averages 597 in weekly worship.
Cox, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., is a graduate of Mercer University and earned a master of divinity degree from New Orleans Seminary and doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary.