SBC Executive Committee clears outgoing chairman; incoming chairman apologizes

SBC Executive Committee clears outgoing chairman; incoming chairman apologizes

By Jennifer Davis Rash

The Alabama Baptist

Recent accusations of misuse of power within the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee resulted in the newly elected EC chair issuing a public apology to the outgoing EC chair.

June 24 blog post by EC member Jared Wellman, pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, outlines his concern with how new EC leaders were appointed June 16 and the fact that four of those new leaders also sit on the steering council of the recently organized Conservative Baptist Network. He called for the four men to resign their EC posts. Two other EC members also are on the Network’s steering council but do not serve in EC leadership positions.

Wellman alleged that outgoing EC Chairman Mike Stone intentionally worked “to ensure new EC leaders would include members of the (Network’s) steering council, a group that wasn’t known to exist until, strategically, the day after the EC Officer and Chairman elections took place.”

EC member Rod Martin of Florida is one of those six and rejected the idea of a conflict of interest.

“I cannot imagine how groups of Baptists acting together to advance the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the gospel, and the Cooperative Program could possibly be in conflict with the work of our SBC,” Martin told The Alabama Baptist. “Indeed, I’m reasonably certain that many EC members, trustees of other SBC entities and even Great Commission Council members are publicly involved in many SBC and non-SBC groups. … I would be most surprised if such men and women would question our similar organizing.”

‘No impropriety’ found

As a result of the accusations, the EC released a statement June 26 explaining its members held a conference call June 25 to address the alleged procedural and ethical improprieties. After a full discussion, the EC members determined by poll there was no impropriety of any kind in the recent nomination and election of the EC officers, the statement reads.

“The Committee thanks Mike Stone for his exemplary servant leadership of the SBC Executive Committee during his entire tenure as chairman and for the manner in which he presided.”

Also released June 26 was an apology by newly elected EC chairman Rolland Slade and an acceptance of the apology by Stone, but the details behind why Slade needed to apologize are not clear.

Slade’s apology

Slade said, “As I reflect back on this first week serving as chairman of the SBC Executive Committee and examine myself, I am disappointed.

“Specifically I am disappointed that I did not give wise counsel when it was sought from me nor did I conduct myself fully in the ways of a servant leader. … It is my wholehearted intent to learn from this week and to move us forward to do the Kingdom work that our Heavenly Father has called us to. …

“Pastor Mike Stone … does not deserve to be characterized in any negative way. He is my predecessor, my friend and, most importantly, my brother in Christ. He deserved better from me. I sincerely apologize for the hurt and damage my actions this week have caused to him, his reputation, his family and the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Blackshear, Ga.”

Stone’s acceptance

Stone responded, “I joyfully accept the apology offered by Brother Rolland. In our June 25 meeting, he expressed to the full committee his sincere regret over the confusion his actions created in our recent election of officers. More specifically, he apologized that those actions led to misinformation being published about me in various online forums.

“The events of the last several days are a sobering reminder of the caustic and damaging nature of social media among Southern Baptists,” Stone said in the statement. “The rush to judgment based on half-truths and untruths is as old as Genesis. But modern technology has thrown gasoline on some of the baser aspects of our fallen nature. The old adage is true that a falsehood can march half-way around the world before the truth can get its shoes on.” (Margaret Colson contributed)