SBC Executive Committee president search enters 'investigation phase'

Messengers hold up ballot cards as they vote during the Southern Baptist Convention's Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, held June 11-14, 2023.
Messengers hold up ballot cards as they vote during the Southern Baptist Convention's Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, held June 11-14, 2023. | Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee's search for a new president has entered the "investigation phase," according to a recent update from the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

The Baptist Press, the official news service of the SBC, reported Monday that the SBC EC has moved into the "investigation phase" for selecting a new president. This post was left vacant by the 2021 resignation of former President Ronnie Floyd. 

This is the third of four phases outlined by the EC, with the first two being the "invitation phase" and the "interview phase." The final stage will be the "introduction phase."

Neal Hughes, chairman of the SBC EC President/CEO Search Team, said the group is "following the vetting process for EC personnel as outlined by our attorneys and approved by the trustees in the recent September meeting."

"[We are] united and prayerful as we press forward with the hopeful goal of presenting a candidate in February," Hughes said, according to BP.

"We ask you to continue to join us in seeking God's good and perfect will for the next leader of our SBC Executive Committee. Pray for patience, wisdom, discernment, and continued unity in the journey."

Another update on the presidential selection process is slated to be released in January.

The EC is made up of 86 representatives and works on behalf of the convention between sessions, doing such things as reviewing financial statements, distributing funds in support of denominational ministries and serving as the trust agency for all SBC properties.

In October 2021, Floyd resigned over the committee's decision to waive attorney-client privilege as part of an investigation into how SBC leadership has handled sexual abuse allegations.

After Floyd resigned, the SBC EC appointed Willie McLaurin — an EC vice president — interim president while searching for a new leader.

In May, committee members voted 31-50 against appointing Texas Pastor Jared Wellman, an SBC EC member who had been the top candidate for president after a 14-month recruitment process. 

Wellman faced objections to some of his work as part of the search committee, while others advocated for the SBC EC to approve a person of color for the position instead.

In August, McLaurin resigned as interim president and stepped away from consideration to be the new president when it was revealed that he had lied about his resume credentials.

McLaurin confessed that he did not have degrees from North Carolina Central University, Duke University Divinity School or Hood Theological Seminary, as he previously claimed.

Jonathan Howe, an SBC EC member since 2019 who has served as vice president for communications, was chosen to fill the interim president position following McLaurin's exit.  

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