A longtime senior staff member was named acting interim president of the North American Mission Board on Wednesday after the agency's president resigned a day earlier over mismanagement allegations.
Richard Harris, who has served at NAMB and its predecessor Home Mission Board (HMB) for nearly 30 years, will head the organization until an interim president is installed, announced NAMB trustee chairman Tim Patterson in an e-mail to the staff.
Harris has previously served as NAMB's vice president of church planting for 10 years, and headed HMB's mass evangelism initiatives for 16 years, according to Baptist Press.
He fills the vacant presidency after Geoff Hammond and three of his closet associates resigned on Tuesday following concerns members of the agency's Board of Trustees had about Hammond's leadership.
Among the concerns they had were his hiring close friends for top positions in the agency and the low morale among staff members.
The three NAMB leaders who resigned with Hammond were all from Virginia. Two of them had worked with him at the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) convention, and the other was a pastor in Virginia and was on the search committee that brought Hammond into the mission board.
Hammond's exit from the NAMB is reminiscent of his predecessor, Bob Reccord, who also resigned due to mismanagement allegations.
Hammond – a third generation missionary – was brought into the agency in May 2007 as its second president to replace Reccord. .
Some critics have said Hammond lacked the management skills to successfully run as large an agency as the NAMB, which oversees more than 5,600 missionaries, 3,077 endorsed chaplains, and a volunteer missionary force of more than 250,000 Southern Baptists.
Despite the turbulent last few weeks, NAMB trustee chairman Tim Patterson on Wednesday assured staff members that the agency will go "nowhere but forward."
"The North American Mission Board is one of most vital agencies in the world today," Patterson said, according to BP. "We will continue on. We have been tasked by Southern Baptists to reach North America for Christ. That is our goal and our job. And until Jesus comes back, that's what we're going to do."
The NAMB is the domestic mission arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.