By Bob Allen
The Tennessee Baptist Convention elected the first African-American president in its 140-year history Nov. 11.
Michael Ellis, 54, pastor of Impact Baptist Church in Memphis, was elected by unanimous vote of more than 940 messengers attending the 2014 annual meeting in Brentwood, Tenn., according to the Baptist and Reflector.
An organization called the Tennessee Baptist Convention formed in 1834, but it disintegrated into three regional bodies in 1842 separated by controversies including anti-missionism and “Campbellism,” a restorationist movement that led to the formation of the Church of Christ.
The present Tennessee Baptist Convention was formed in 1874. It numbers about 3,000 churches representing more than 1 million Southern Baptists statewide.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention also made history this year, electing its first black officer. Larry Young, pastor of Spangle Banner Baptist Church in Pace, Miss., was elected second vice president over Chas Rowland, pastor of Bovina Baptist Church, in the only contested election for a convention office.
Formed in 1836, the Mississippi Baptist Convention was one of the original nine state conventions that organized the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845, separating from Northern Baptists over slavery.
Now America’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics, the Southern Baptist Convention elected its first African-American president, Pastor Fred Luter of New Orleans, in 2012 and 2013.