Southern Baptist Missions Leader Resigns

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention's domestic missions agency and three of his closest associates resigned from their positions Tuesday following a seven-hour-long meeting of the agency's board of trustees.

Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), will no longer head the missions agency, announced Tim Patterson, chairman of NAMB's Board of Trustees, Tuesday evening at the group's Georgia-based headquarters.

Furthermore, Hammond's closest co-workers – Dennis Culbreth, senior assistant to the president; Steve Reid, senior associate to the president for strategy development; and Brandon Pickett, communications team leader – have also all resigned.

Their resignation is effective immediately, according to an official statement.

The announcement came as little surprise after an e-mail regarding problems within the agency's leadership team was leaked weeks before Tuesday's meeting.

One of the board's trustees, the Rev. Jason Pettus, wrote in the e-mail last month that Patterson and the executive committee had "several 'serious issues' that they needed to talk with Geoff about."

Pettus named three issues that some trustees were concerned about including Hammond's decision to stop meeting with an executive leadership coach trustees had hired to work with him, his hiring of an administration associate without the approval of the trustee leadership, and the low morale among board staff.

"He (Patterson) said that some on the executive committee had strong negative feelings about Geoff," Pettus wrote in his e-mail, according to Baptist Press. "He said that some on the executive committee were very 'angry' and 'frustrated' with Geoff."

Though the e-mail did not say Hammond would be fired at the Aug. 11 meeting, it did suggest that his removal was possible.

In an article in The Tennessean, a local Southern Baptist pastor criticized Hammond for hiring his friends rather than people who were deemed by others as more qualified for the position.

"There's a lot of nepotism and cronyism," said the Rev. David Thompson, pastor of North Pointe Community Church in Old Hickory, Tenn. "There's been a fair amount of that from the beginning."

All three of the NAMB associates who resigned had long relationships with Hammond. Two of the people were on staff with Hammond when he served with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) convention. And the third person who resigned was a pastor in Virginia and part of the search committee that brought Hammond into the mission board, according to Baptist Press.

Hammond became president of NAMB in March 2007 after his predecessor, Bob Reccord, resigned due to mismanagement allegations. Hammond is the son and grandson of missionaries.

NAMB oversees more than 5,600 missionaries, 3,077 endorsed chaplains, and the volunteer missionary force of more than a quarter of a million Southern Baptists. The mission agency exists to assist Southern Baptists in reaching North America and its people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.