For those serving on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee board of trustees, the regularly scheduled meetings in Nashville in September and February are routine treks.
However, this year’s September meeting, which begins with various sub group meetings this afternoon (Sept. 18) followed by the opening plenary session tonight, brings another level of intensity, even for what has become the norm in recent years. The meeting is being held at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University due to heavy construction near the SBC EC building. More sub group meetings will take place tomorrow morning and the closing plenary session will be tomorrow afternoon.
Since the group’s previous meeting in June, the EC has faced more leadership woes following the resignation of interim president Willie McLaurin (read background on the story here) and announced it was cutting five staff positions and two contract positions to help alleviate the looming financial crisis at the EC. Read more about the staff cuts here.
While the EC did not announce which positions were eliminated, a look at the EC staff directory at sbc.net indicates two of the positions were in communications (director of digital content and marketing and a writing position) and three in the Great Commission relations and mobilization area (the two associate vice presidents focused on Hispanic and Asian American relations and their administrative assistant).
Also, the vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization position, remains unfilled. It was the position McLaurin held at the EC for two years, coming to the role in January 2020, prior to being named interim president in February 2022 following the October 2021 resignation of then-EC president Ronnie Floyd.
The two contract roles noted in the recent cuts were not included on the staff directory section and have not been announced. With the latest adjustments, the EC currently has 21 staff members — four in the president’s office, nine in the communications office (which includes the staff of Baptist Press), four in the finance office, two in the Great Commission relations office and two facility services.
Interim president update
Also, taking place during the meeting will likely be another change of interim presidents. Jonathan Howe, EC vice president for communications, has been serving in the role for the past month per EC bylaws that require a vacant president position to be held by a vice president temporarily until the board can meet to officially name an interim. Howe was the sole vice president on staff when McLaurin resigned Aug. 17.
Earlier this morning (Sept. 18), Dan Summerlin, a retired Kentucky pastor, was announced as the “transitional interim president” nominee by EC chair Philip Robertson of Louisiana. Summerlin will be presented and voted on during the EC meeting. Read the full story from Baptist Press here.
Staying up with the news
EC members also will hear an update on the investigation into the McLaurin situation as well as the latest from the presidential search committee, along with other reports. The Illinois Baptist newspaper’s partners at The Baptist Paper are onsite in Nashville and will be providing continuous coverage online at thebaptistpaper.org and at X (formerly Twitter).
The plenary sessions of tonight’s EC meeting at 6:30 p.m. Central time (as well as tomorrow afternoon’s plenary session at 1 p.m. Central time) will be livestreamed at https://www.acts2tv.com/.