"God has prepared John for this role, having led Virginia Baptists since 2001, a period during which Virginia Baptists have been on the cutting edge of Christian witness and mission," said BWA General Secretary Neville Callam. "Without a doubt, he is eminently suited to fill the position as BWA president."
BWA is a fellowship of 37 million members and its senior officers are the president and the general secretary. Upton was nominated last year to lead the global body.
His nomination was confirmed this week at the 20th Baptist World Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. He will serve a five-year term.
Upton has served as executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board since 2001. He is also a member of the BWA General Council and the Executive Committee, the two governing bodies of the BWA.
Earlier, he served on several panels including the Baptist World Aid Committee, the Commission on Christian Ethics, and the Executive Committee of the North American Baptist Fellowship, and was a missionary in Taiwan with his wife through the Southern Baptist Convention.
To assist the senior officers, 12 vice presidents were also elected Saturday.
The Baptist World Congress concludes Sunday.