The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met June 13 in what outgoing chairman Rolland Slade described as the first boring meeting in a while — his final after serving two four-year terms on the board and two one-year terms as chair.
During the meeting in a packed-out grand ballroom of the Anaheim Marriott, the EC board rescinded the budgetary recommendations related to the Sexual Abuse Task Force it passed June 2 (read story here), apologized to sexual abuse survivors and elected two younger pastors as its new leaders.
Rescinding the motions for freeing up $4 million to implement the SATF recommendations was made possible by a June 8 announcement that Send Relief will cover the first year’s expenses (read story here).
Apology to survivors
In his opening address, Willie McLaurin, interim president and CEO of the EC, shared about learning to navigate pain through his years in the military.
“If we have contributed to your pain, we sincerely apologize,” he said to survivors. “It is my prayer this collaborative effort will be seen as a first step for survivors to move from hurt to healing. … As we continue to run the race that God has for us, it is my desire the SBC will continue to run, laying aside any weight, any sin … to reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Texas pastor Jared Wellman, 38, the new EC chair, and South Carolina pastor David Sons, 36, the new EC vice chair, will begin their service at the close of the SBC Annual Meeting June 15. Slade remains as chair through the annual meeting and will be the person addressing messengers if questions arise for EC trustees.
“Rolland served during one of the most challenging times in EC history,” said McLaurin as he presented Slade with the esteemed chairperson’s gavel.
Slade thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers and said he had been “blessed” to serve.
“Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to lead in this season,” he said. “God is so good that He brought us through and He’s going to continue on. He’s not leaving you here, but taking you on to higher heights.”
Sixty-two of the current 67 members were present for today’s meeting; and eight of those are rotating off as of June 15. And prior to the June 2 EC meeting, EC member Ann Watts of Georgia resigned from the board for personal health reasons.
That means 28 new trustees will be coming on the 86-seat EC board if the Committee on Nominations report is approved by the messengers during the SBC Annual Meeting.
As far as the new officers, Wellman, who is in his second term as an EC member, serves as pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and as adjunct professor of apologetics at Southwestern Seminary.
He became well-known last fall for his motion to waive attorney-client privilege in the independent investigation of the EC’s handling of sexual abuse allegations within the denomination.
Wellman won the election over Indiana pastor Andrew Hunt with 62% of the vote. One EC member abstained from voting.
“Jared is the right man of God to lead us during this season,” said Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone, who nominated Wellman for the position.
In the vice chair election, Sons, pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina, ultimately won after Louisiana pastor Philip Robertson withdrew his name when a second vote was needed. The first vote of 32 for Sons and 28 for Robertson was not enough to achieve the required majority to be elected an officer, which would be 34 with the current board sitting at 67 members.
Layperson Pam Reed of North Carolina was elected secretary with 58% of the vote over Missouri pastor Monte Shinkle, who currently serves in the role and received 38% of the vote. Two members abstained from voting.
All three officers supported the waiving of attorney-client privilege from the beginning, but Sons said, “I would hate to speculate what message that sends. A lot of the board members were trying to get up to speed on what it all meant and what we were dealing with.
“We really wanted to do what was right in the moment and do the will of the messengers,” Sons said during an afternoon press conference with Wellman. “It was an important moment in the life of the EC and in the life of the convention. … This is just the first step in what is going to be a long journey.”
Expressed desire for spirit of humility
Wellman and Sons shared their hopes for the EC going forward in the first-of-its-kind press conference — one with the newly elected EC officers. Both expressed a desire to serve the EC and messengers with a spirit of humility and servant mindset, even noting they would like to see the EC staffing structure move into that style of existence.
While Wellman is in his second four-year term as an EC member, Sons has only served one year, but both are on the EC presidential search committee. Sons was named to the committee, originally and Wellman becomes an ex-officio member by way of being chair.
Wellman also serves on the current SBC Resolutions Committee and will only serve one year as EC chair because his second full term on the board ends with the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Other positions filled
Also elected during the meeting were the four workgroup chairs, each nominated by Slade without opposition:
- Committee on Convention Missions and Ministry — California pastor Richard Spring
- Committee on Convention Finance and Stewardship Development — Arkansas pastor Archie Mason
- Committee on Southern Baptist Relations — Illinois pastor Adron Robinson
- Committee on Convention Events and Strategic Planning — Ohio pastor Mark Stinson
Retired educator Carolyn Fountain of Louisiana also was approved to be added to the Committee on Nominations report to SBC Messengers June 14–15 to fill a slot on the SBC Credentials Committee.
In other business, EC members adopted the 95th annual report as printed in the SBC Book of Reports.
View photos from the SBC Executive Committee meeting here.
For more stories from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, visit thebaptistpaper.org/sbc2022.