'Serious Issues' Cast Doubt Over Future of Baptist Missions Leader

Though trustees of the North American Mission Board passed a resolution just two months ago unanimously praising the Southern Baptist entity's president for his "exemplary, unique leadership and vision" and expressing their "unified support" of him, there has been considerable discussion over Geoff Hammond's future as NAMB head.

The Rev. Jason Pettus, one of 36 trustees on the board that oversees Hammond, reported to other trustees in an e-mail last week that the board's chairman, Tim Patterson, and the executive committee have "several 'serious issues' that they needed to talk with Geoff about."

Pettus said Patterson identified three issues some trustees have with Hammond, including his decision to stop meeting with an executive leadership coach trustees had hired to work with him, his hiring of an administrative associate without consulting trustee leadership, and the morale among board staff, which was described as being at an all-time low.

"Tim stated that this was an example of problems he and the executive committee had been having with Geoff for 18 months," Pettus wrote in his e-mail, according to Baptist Press.

Though Patterson stopped short of affirming rumors that the board was seeking the removal of Hammond as NAMB president, he suggested to Pettus that such a decision could be the outcome of the upcoming meeting of the board's executive committee, scheduled for Aug. 11 in Atlanta.

Hammond had been tapped to lead the domestic missions arm of the nation's largest Protestant denomination in 2007 after the former president, Bob Reccord, was forced to resign the year before amid reports that he mismanaged the agency.

With more than 5600 missionaries, 3077 endorsed chaplains, and the volunteer missionary force of more than a quarter of a million Southern Baptists, NAMB exists to assist Southern Baptists in reaching North America and its people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In their statement in May, trustees said they believe NAMB "is an efficient and effective Southern Baptist entity that takes seriously the good stewardship of the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars entrusted to us by Southern Baptists."

They also said NAMB is "poised to make the greatest impact for the Great Commission."