EC search committee has ‘actively pursued’ non-Anglos

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By David Roach

NASHVILLE (BP) – Responding to “recent online stories and related social media activity,” the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s presidential search committee says it has “actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.”

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC) seven-member presidential search committee comprises: (first row, left to right) Stephen Rummage, Mike Stone; (middle row, left to right) Adron Robinson, Carol Yarber, Joe Knott; (back row left to right) Stephen Swofford and Rolland Slade. BAPTIST PRESS

In a Feb. 7 statement to the full EC, the search committee also said it “will not have a nomination to share” at the EC’s Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville. It is seeking a successor to Frank S. Page, who resigned in March 2018.

The committee’s statement came the week after North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder newsjournal claimed a letter from two former SBC presidents – James Merritt and Bryant Wright – and Las Vegas pastor Vance Pitman asked the search committee if it had “interviewed any minority candidates.” At least two blog posts this month have reported claims that the EC search committee has not interviewed any minority candidates. Religion News Service reported on the discussion Feb. 6.

In its statement, the seven-person EC search committee noted the diversity of its own members and said, “The search committee not only desired ethnic diversity in our process, we have actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.”

The committee includes two African Americans, a woman, and members from California to North Carolina and Chicago to Texas.

“In a meeting of your search committee on February 4, 2019, the two African-American members you elected to the seven-member committee addressed the ethnic diversity in our process,” according to the statement. “Pastor Rolland Slade and Dr. Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman of the search committee, expressed a ‘100% confidence level’ that our process has been Christ-honoring regarding the question of ethnic diversity.

“Your search committee views every recommendation as a sacred trust from Southern Baptists and has given every candidate serious consideration,” the statement continued. “Every decision has been united and unanimous.”

“Expanded details” regarding the search will be provided Feb. 18 during the search committee’s report to the full EC, according to the statement. “While we will not have a nomination to share with you at that time, our goal of finding God’s man remains unchanged. We are grateful for your prayers for us.”

In a preface to the statement, EC chairman Mike Stone, who serves on the search committee, told EC members the search committee “unanimously asked me to forward” the statement to the full EC in light of “recent online stories and related social media activity.”

The letter by Merritt, Wright, and Pitman stated according to the Biblical Recorder, “We are not saying that you should hire a minority candidate” nor “dictating to the committee any specific individuals that you should either interview or select.”

But they added, “We know ourselves of certain minority candidates that we believe would at least merit a conversation and consideration regardless of whether or not they would be chosen in the end. At the very least, simply an acknowledgment that minorities were considered and interviewed in a serious way would show a good faith effort on the part of this committee to exhibit a sensitivity to where we are and where we need to go as a convention in terms of racial diversity in our leadership. Not to do so, we believe would send an extremely negative message and unnecessarily put the committee and frankly, the entire convention, in a bad light.”

The EC presidential search committee comprises chairman Steve Swofford, Robinson as vice chairman, Joe Knott, Stephen Rummage, Slade, Stone and Carol Yarber.

The full statement is printed below.


Email to full SBC Executive Committee from EC chairman Mike Stone:

“Members of the Executive Committee,

“Due to some recent online stories and related social media activity, the members of your presidential search team unanimously asked me to forward the following statement to you regarding our commitment to ethnic diversity in our presidential search. We are thankful for the privilege of serving you as we all seek the Lord’s guidance in these days. We appreciate your prayers.

“Mike Stone

“Chairman, Executive Committee”

Statement by the EC presidential search committee:

“When our board met on April 17, 2018, under challenging circumstances, you elected a diverse presidential search team. The search committee not only desired ethnic diversity in our process, we have actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.

“In a meeting of your search committee on February 4, 2019, the two African-American members you elected to the seven-member committee addressed the ethnic diversity in our process. Pastor Rolland Slade and Dr. Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman of the search committee, expressed a ‘100% confidence level’ that our process has been Christ-honoring regarding the question of ethnic diversity.

“Your search committee views every recommendation as a sacred trust from Southern Baptists and has given everycandidate serious consideration. Every decision has been united and unanimous.

“We look forward to providing expanded details in our full committee report to you on February 18th in Nashville. While we will not have a nomination to share with you at that time, our goal of finding God’s man remains unchanged. We are grateful for your prayers for us.

“Respectfully,
“Steve Swofford, Chairman
“Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman
“Joe Knott
“Stephen Rummage
“Rolland Slade
“Mike Stone
“Carol Yarber”


David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.

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