Johnny Hunt has spoken at the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference nearly twice as frequently as any other person in the last two decades.
The once-disgraced and now controversially “restored” pastor has spoken at the annual preach-a-thon 14 times since 2000 — substantially more than the next most-frequent preacher in that time period, Jerry Vines.
The annual cavalcade of preaching is held every June immediately prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. During the time of the so-called “conservative resurgence,” the Pastors’ Conference became a proving ground for conservative pastors who later would ascend to elected office.
That was the case for Hunt, who in 1996 was elected president of the Pastors’ Conference. The next year, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary named a chair of biblical preaching for him. Then in 2008, he was elected SBC president.
With only three exceptions, the men elected president of the SBC have preached at the Pastors’ Conference multiple times. Those exceptions are current SBC President Bart Barber, his predecessor, Ed Litton, and Hunt’s successor as president, Bryant Wright.
The list of conference preachers was compiled by Luke Holmes, pastor of First Baptist Church of Tishomingo, Okla., and published on Twitter. Holmes holds no official office but offered the analysis as a personal point of interest.
Because of the year-to-year nature of the conference — each year’s president has wide latitude to invite speakers and plan the program — seldom has anyone taken a wide look at the recurrence of preachers.
Hunt’ popularity and influence are significant because of the role he eventually held as executive vice president of the SBC North American Mission Board and the network of businesses he continues to operate that bring income to him and his family.
In 2022, Hunt was named in the Guidepost Solutions report on sexual abuse in the SBC, was forced from his NAMB position and was exiled by most convention leaders. Hunt has admitted an “improper” relationship with a woman other than this wife but insists he was not abusive. He has now filed suit against the SBC and Guideposts for defamation.
Although other Southern Baptist pastors may have been better known outside the convention — Charles Stanley, for example — Hunt has been one of the best-known preachers inside the convention. He sells a full line of products including audio and video recordings and books.
Others besides Hunt (14) and Vines (8) who have made the most frequent appearances at the Pastors’ Conference since 2000 are Tony Evans (7), David Platt (7), Adrian Rogers (7), Jimmy Draper (6), James MacDonald (6), Jack Graham (6), Ronnie Floyd (5), J.D. Greear (5), Jay Strack (5), and Fred Luter (5)
Even Paige Patterson, co-architect of the conservative takeover has appeared only four times on the Pastors’ Conference program in the last two decades.
Overall, the list of a who’s who of theologically and politically conservative voices included David Jeremiah (3), Chuck Colson (3), Voddie Baucham (2), Oliver North (2), and Mike Huckabee (2).