While an interim president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has not yet been named, the remaining 80% of board members did fill committee chair vacancies in the special-called Oct. 28 virtual meeting. The meeting also was the group’s final time with outgoing EC president Ronnie Floyd.
Archie Mason of Arkansas is the new chair of the committee on convention finances and stewardship development. The seat was left vacant by the resignation of Robyn Hari of Tennessee in early October.
Andrew Hunt of Indiana is the new chair of the committee on missions and ministry, which was previously held by Rob Showers of Virginia, whose resignation was announced Oct. 27.
Jim Gregory of Idaho remains an active member and chair of the committee on Southern Baptist relations, and Erik Cummings of Florida remains an active member and chair of the committee on convention events and strategic planning. Serving as EC officers alongside chairman Rolland Slade are vice chair Stacy Bramlett of Tennessee and secretary Monte Shinkle of Missouri.
Trustee resignations climbing
Trustee resignations have climbed to 15 since the group’s discussion over waiving attorney-client privilege began in September. The recent resignations along with an unrelated resignation in June, leaves the group with 70 of the 86 seats filled and three state conventions — Arizona, Kansas-Nebraska and Pennsylvania — without representation on the board.
The 20% of open seats cannot be filled until the next SBC annual meeting (June 2022) because the bylaws require trustees to be elected by messengers to the annual meeting.
The list of trustees who have resigned as of Oct. 28 include Mark Elliott of Kansas–Nebraska, James Freeman of Missouri, Chad Garrison of Arizona, Melissa Golden of Alabama, Kim Grueser of Pennsylvania, Ron Hale of Tennessee, Robyn Hari of Tennessee, Paul Hicks of Alabama, Phyllis Ingram of Alabama, Rod Martin of Florida, Gene McPherson of Arkansas, Barbara Norris of Texas, Rob Showers of Virginia, Stephen Swofford of Texas, Chuck Williams of Tennessee, and the unrelated resignation from June, Modena J. Henderson of North Carolina.
More resignations are expected, according to Martin, who announced his resignation Oct. 28. The EC can continue to meet and conduct business no matter how many members resign because the group’s bylaws state a quorum is based on the number of seats filled, not the number of overall seats. According to EC bylaw 3.13 Quorum: “A majority (50% plus one) of the board of trustees shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.”
According to EC bylaw 3.14 Voting: “The affirmative vote of a majority of the trustees present, if a quorum is present when the vote is taken, is the act of the board of trustees, unless these Bylaws, the Charter, the Act, or Robert’s Rules of Order requires a greater vote. Representation or voting by proxy is not permitted.”
The trustee resignations have been trickling in alongside the October announcements of staff and attorneys who are separating themselves from the EC — longtime attorney Jim Guenther and his law firm, Floyd and executive vice president Greg Addison.
Latest on the EC’s legal counsel
While Floyd and Addison wrap up their time with the EC on Oct. 31, Guenther, Jordan, and Price have agreed to a limited relationship while a new firm is sought, according to EC chairman Rolland Slade.
Releasing a statement following the Oct. 28 meeting, which was held in executive session, Slade said, “More details will be released in the coming days regarding the search (for new legal counsel), but we are grateful for the continued partnership we have with Jim Guenther — our convention attorney of 56 years. Also, the EC has secured the services with a national law firm, Bradley, to specifically assist in the legal aspects related to the ongoing independent third-party investigation by Guidepost Solutions.”
Bradley is a national law firm with 10 offices in several Southeast states and Washington, D.C.
Some unanswered questions
Information related to other topics such as who is being considered to serve as interim president, when a presidential search committee will be formed and/or if a review will be done first to evaluate the type of staffing needed at the EC has not been released. Slade reported prior to the meeting that the agenda would include legal, audit and personnel issues but did not elaborate on other details.
It also is unclear how the Oct. 28 meeting related to the meeting request from 25 trustees, who sent a letter to Slade with the request Oct. 13.
Slade did share a word about Floyd, however.
“On behalf of the members of the committee, I would like to thank President Floyd for his work at the EC. He’s had a tremendous ministry to Southern Baptists for years,” Slade said. “We know he loves the Southern Baptist Convention, and we wish him well in the future — wherever God may lead him to serve.”
Floyd shares word of thanks to Southern Baptists
Floyd also released his final message to Southern Baptists through an Oct. 27 email.
“I was reminded this past weekend of these words from Scripture which have moved me for many years. From Isaiah the prophet, ‘Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug’ (Isaiah 51:1).
“Unknown to most, my parents never graduated from high school due to World War II. They were the basic of Baptist laypersons who loved the Lord, their church, their pastor, and the work of God across America and the world. Their incredible commitment to the local church and biblical stewardship was always evident before me.
“Our very small Baptist church was pastored by a bivocational pastor and touched 30 to 40 people weekly,” Floyd wrote. “Being raised in Texas exposed me to the great work of God through our local association, and eventually the state convention, and later to the Southern Baptist Convention. These are my roots and I embrace them fully. This is why I have often remembered these profound words from Isaiah 51:1.
“These are my roots and I will always be thankful for them in every way,” he said. “Even in my formative years, our Sovereign God knew that one day He would have me serve in several ways across our SBC family, within a convention of churches where thousands upon thousands are smaller membership churches. I am grateful for each one of them and I am also grateful for all churches, regardless of their membership size or their attendance.
“On Sunday, Oct. 31, my time of service in this specific role will conclude. As my departure is at hand, I leave you with the following:
“1. Thank you … for the privilege extended to me to serve … the past 28 months. Furthermore, thank you for the honor it was for me to serve as your elected president of the SBC from 2014 to 2016.
“2. I love our Southern Baptist Convention family and believe in you and the mission that we share together. I do not share in the mission because of a position but have been and always will be deeply committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
“3. I will always be grateful for Southern Baptists investing in my education (both at the college and seminary level). … To every SBC church, thank you for investing in me.
“4. I will always cherish as one of the greatest privileges ever extended to me in life, the leadership responsibility to promote the Cooperative Program, our mission offerings, and through collaboration and cooperation, to lead us into a clear, reachable, unified strategic Great Commission vision. Southern Baptists have a vision and a passion to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation.
“We love you. We thank you. We pray for you.”
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