Baptist General Convention of Texas Could Get First Woman President

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DALLAS (AP) - A denominational leader who got her start as a church secretary is likely to become the first female president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Longtime mission worker Joy Fenner is in line to be named head of the nation's largest Baptist state convention when it conducts its annual meeting in late October. Less than one percent of the convention's pastors are female.

The 72-year-old Fenner says she's "a very reluctant candidate." But she says there have been some within the convention that felt it was time for a woman to be selected. She also says there's a strong emphasis on the need for mission work.

Fenner says starting as a secretary at First Baptist Church in Marshall in the 1950s helped her to understand how Baptists could work together.

The convention named her first vice president last year, putting her in position to serve the one-year term as president in 2008. Her only announced opponent is a West Texas pastor who concedes that he's unlikely to be elected and pledges to support Fenner if she wins.

She also carries the endorsement of Texas Baptists Committed. That's an influential group that takes credit for resisting a conservative takeover of the convention.