CAPE CORAL, Fla. (BP) – Founders Ministries President Tom Ascol announced his intention to run for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president Tuesday, March 22, in a story published at the Daily Wire, a conservative news site conceived and founded by political commentators Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing. The nomination was also announced through a post at the Founders Ministries website.
Ascol becomes the second announced candidate for the office. Florida pastor Willy Rice was announced as a candidate last month a day after current SBC President Ed Litton announced he would not seek a second term.
Ascol has pastored Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral since 1986. Prior to his time at Grace, he served as a pastor and associate pastor of various churches in Texas.
“I love the SBC and am grateful for all the wonderful things God has done in and through the Convention,” Ascol told Baptist Press in a phone interview. “I believe we are in need of a course correction so that regular Southern Baptist churches can have a voice and can help hold our institution and entities accountable to the churches that own them. If we don’t do this, then we will lose many opportunities to be united to spread the Gospel of Jesus around the world.”
The nomination announcement at the Founders website was signed by nearly a dozen Southern Baptists—many of whom are leaders in the Conservative Baptist Network—including current SBC First Vice President Lee Brand and Mike Stone, runner-up in last year’s election for SBC president.
The announcement cites a “freefall” of baptisms and evangelism as reasons for needing Ascol to “unite our convention around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
According to Annual Church Profile information, Ascol’s church has not officially reported baptism totals since 2004. However, Grace did report 280 in weekly worship attendance with $725,110.02 total undesignated receipts and $30,660.94 (4.23 percent) given through the Cooperative Program. According to Ascol, the church gave a total of $159,524.20 in Great Commission Giving and $34,500 to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief last year.
Ascol is most widely known in the SBC for his work as president of Founders Ministries, an organization Ascol helped start in 1982 that is “committed to encouraging the recovery of Gospel and the biblical reformation of local churches.” According to its website, Founders holds to the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith as its doctrinal confession. Ascol is also a frequent contributor in TableTalk, the monthly magazine for Ligonier Ministries, has authored several books, and hosts a popular podcast – The Sword & The Trowel.
Ascol’s lone service role in the SBC on the national level was in 2012-13 when he was a member of a Calvinism Advisory Committee assembled by then-SBC Executive Committee president Frank Page. The task force was charged with developing “a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism.”
Ascol is a graduate of Texas A&M and has both an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Southwestern Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, have six children and 15 grandchildren.