LAWTON—Mike Keahbone, senior pastor of Lawton, First will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the 2024 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind.

Victor Chayasirisobhon, senior pastor of Anaheim, Calif., First, announced he plans to make the nomination when Southern Baptists gather for the annual meeting June 11-12.

“Mike Keahbone is the real deal, a leader who loves the Lord, loves the SBC and strives every day to make it better,” Chayasirisobhon said. “He is a son of the SBC, and I am convinced he is more than ready to step up and step into the role of president.”

At the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, Mike Keahbone presented resolution 4, ‘On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report.’ BP file photo by Adam Covington

Mike Keahbone served on the Oklahoma Baptists Board of Directors from 2015-2021, including as the vice president from 2017-2019. He was a member of the search team responsible for bringing forward Hance Dilbeck’s nomination for executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists.

Keahbone led student ministries for more than two decades before spending two years as a full-time evangelist, speaking at local churches throughout the country as well as multiple camps including Falls Creek and state evangelism conferences.

Known as “a pastor at heart,” Keahbone served as the senior pastor of Oklahoma City, Cherokee Hills from 2014-2020. He has been the senior pastor of Lawton, First for more than three years, “where God continues to bring revival and spiritual renewal to a once thriving church.”

At the beginning of his tenure, Lawton, First averaged more than 300 in attendance. As of 2024, the average Sunday attendance is more than 600, with baptisms increasing year over year— beginning in 2020 from four to 35 to 50-plus in consecutive years.

Lawton, First contributes 6 percent of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program with an annual budget of more than $1.7 million. Under Keahbone’s leadership, Lawton, First partnered with the North American Mission Board to launch Hope Church, a thriving new church plant in Lawton in the fall of 2023.

In the SBC, Keahbone has served as the vice chair of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), as a member of the SBC Executive Committee for the last three years, the Committee on Cooperation, the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee and the Executive Committee’s Presidential Search Team.

He is the author of resolution 4 “On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report,” regarding the abuse of Native American children by government boarding schools, which is the first resolution adopted by the SBC in support of Native Peoples.

“There are many great pastors who may be nominated for president of the SBC,” Chayasirisobhon said. “I believe the unique challenges we face at this moment require a candidate with the vision, boldness and clarity to lead and speak to the pressing issues at hand. His extensive experience in Convention life and inexhaustible commitment to make our SBC a better, stronger and healthier family of churches uniquely qualify Mike Keahbone to serve as our next president.”

Lawton, First supports Keahbone’s candidacy

Knowing how much he has done to help restore, Lawton, First, and the “amazing work” Keahbone continues to do as pastor, the church unanimously voted on Jan. 28 to release a statement of support.

“It is our joy to affirm God’s leadership in this decision, and we prayerfully commit to supporting our pastor in this endeavor,” the membership of Lawton, First announced.

Other announced SBC president candidate hails from North Carolina

According to reports from Baptist Press, Clint Pressley, lead pastor of Charlotte, N.C., Hickory Grove, will also be nominated as president of the SBC in Indianapolis in June.

Pressley previously pastored Mobile, Ala., Dauphin Way, in addition to serving in two Mississippi churches. He is currently a trustee at Southern Seminary.