The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, an Arkansas megachurch pastor, was chosen Tuesday to serve as the new president of the nation’s second largest Christian denomination.
Floyd, 58, received 52 percent of votes from delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, beating out the Rev. Dennis Kim, the Korean-American pastor of a bilingual Maryland church, who received 41 percent of the vote.
Floyd has been the pastor at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas for 27 years and has been a preacher for nearly four decades, also serving as a key player in the Southern Baptist Convention for much of that time.
About 8,500 people worship each week at one of Cross Church’s several locations. And throughout his decades-long ministry in Arkansas, Floyd has presided over 17,000 baptisms, according to his website.
He will now replace Pastor Fred Luter of New Orleans, who became the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African American president when he was elected in 2012.
Floyd was nominated by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., who praised him in a nomination speech for his devotion to the denomination and the faith, according to the Baptist Press.
“He is a unifier and a denominational statesman. He knows the Southern Baptist Convention at every level, and he has served and led at every level,” Mohler said. ”We need a man of that commitment and leadership now as president of our beloved convention — a man who models the message.”
A presidential term in the Southern Baptist Convention spans just one year and leaders can only serve two consecutive terms.
Speaking and appearing at national events and media, Floyd has also authored 20 books about prayer, pastoral duties and the growth of Christianity. He will release his latest book project “Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks For Future Leaders” in 2015.
Floyd has been married for 37 years and has two sons and five grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.