SBC Executive Committee to vote on a presidential candidate in February

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 15-16, 2021, cast ballots for several motions and elections throughout the two-day event in Nashville, Tennessee.
Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 15-16, 2021, cast ballots for several motions and elections throughout the two-day event in Nashville, Tennessee. | Eric Brown

The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee has announced that they will vote on a presidential candidate at their next meeting in February. The position has been vacant since 2021.

In a statement released Monday, the SBC's Executive Committee explained that their search team would bring a candidate for a vote at their official meeting, slated for Feb. 19-20 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Chairman Neal Hughes, director of missions and executive director of the Montgomery Baptist Association, said in the statement that the candidate was among 30 given consideration.

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“In doing due diligence, we gathered references from over 60 people from every walk of SBC life, including a full review of primary, secondary, and tertiary references,” stated Hughes.

“In accordance with the Executive Committee’s newly adopted hiring guidelines, we completed an extensive list of checks and tests. The search team evaluated the person during numerous meetings, reviewing his vision and having our questions answered.”

The search team will reveal the name of the presidential candidate to the Executive Committee on Feb. 18, according to Hughes.

The Executive Committee is a body comprised of 86 representatives that acts on behalf of the Convention between sessions. Among other duties, it reviews financial statements of SBC agencies, distributes funds SBC members give to support ministries, and oversees public relations.

The Executive Committee has been without a president since October 2021, when Pastor Ronnie Floyd resigned from the position due to 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 executive committee appointed Willie McLaurin — an Executive Committee vice president — interim president while they continue to search for a new leader.

In May of last year, committee members voted 31-50 against appointing Texas Pastor Jared Wellman, an Executive Committee member who had been the top candidate for president.

Wellman faced opposition over some of his work as part of the search committee, while others wanted the Executive Committee to elect a person of color for the leadership position instead.

In August, McLaurin resigned as interim president and withdrew from consideration to be the new Executive Committee president after it was revealed that he had lied about his education credentials.

McLaurin admitted to not having degrees from North Carolina Central University, Duke University Divinity School or Hood Theological Seminary, as he had previously claimed.

Jonathan Howe, an executive committee employee since 2019, who served as vice president for communications, was selected to fill the interim president post after McLaurin stepped down.  

Last November, Baptist Press, the official news service of the SBC, reported that the Executive Committee has moved into the "investigation phase" for selecting a new president.

This was the third of four phases outlined by the Executive Committee, with the first two being the "invitation phase" and the "interview phase," while the final part was the "introduction phase."

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