Tennessee’s Southern Baptists have elected their first-ever African American president. This comes two years after the national denomination, the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, elected a black president for the first time.
Rev. Michael Ellis, who leads a church in Memphis, is a father of six and a Navy veteran. He was nominated for president during the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Brentwood this week.
Fellow Memphis pastor Fred Shackelford noted that Ellis was also the first African-American pastor to serve as the convention’s vice-president.
“We have this opportunity to do this long overdue, historic thing” by electing him to the presidency, he said.
But Shackelford’s case for Ellis was about more than race.
“I don’t care what color Michael’s skin is,” he said. “He has what it takes to lead this convention well.”
The crowd gave Ellis a standing ovation after he was elected unanimously. He will serve a one-year term.