NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee will recommend a longtime pastor with “a stellar reputation” and years of denominational leadership experience to serve as their interim president.
Dan Summerlin, who recently retired as pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in western Kentucky, would lead the Executive Committee staff until a permanent president is hired.
In a statement on Monday, the Executive Committee said Summerlin is the unanimous choice of Chairman Philip Roberts and other top leaders, and will be recommended to the full committee at a meeting scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
“Dr. Dan Summerlin is a proven leader with four decades of service at many levels of convention life,” the statement said. “As the recently retired pastor of 21 years from Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky, Dr. Summerlin has the administrative skills we need, a stellar reputation across the landscape of the SBC, and the relational acumen needed to represent the EC in our cooperative efforts as a convention during this interim period. He is a champion of the Cooperative Program and a friend to many across our convention.”
Summerlin would be the Executive Committee’s third interim president since mid-August. Willie McLaurin resigned on August 17 after members of the Executive Committee discovered that he had included false information on his resume.
McLaurin had been interim leader since February 2022 and was a candidate for the permanent position. McLaurin acknowledged in his letter of resignation that he had included schools on his resume that he did not attend, including North Carolina Central University, Duke University Divinity School and Hood Theological Seminary.
After McLaurin’s resignation, vice president for communications Jonathan Howe was made interim president. Executive Committee leaders didn’t say why Howe isn’t continuing in that role.
However, Howe came under fire after his appointment for being a member of Woodmont Baptist Church, a Nashville congregation that is dually aligned with the liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Howe’s wife serves as minister of students and discipleship at the church.
Summerlin has served as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and chairman of the Administrative Committee. He also has served as trustee for various Kentucky Baptist agencies and has been the recipient of the state convention’s Cooperative Program Distinguished Leadership Award.
Under Summerlin’s leadership, Lone Oak First Baptist was consistently among the top giving churches to the Cooperative Program.
“Our prayer is that once our trustees have the opportunity to consider Dr. Summerlin, they too will feel led to support him as our transitional interim,” the statement said.
The Executive Committee’s legal counsel has done its due diligence in vetting Sumerlin by completing a criminal background check, a national sex offender registry search, a verification of his resume and credentials, and a review to ensure he’s a member a church that supports the Cooperative Program.
“We are in continual prayer for the Presidential Search Team and the future president and CEO who God has for that permanent leadership role at the EC,” the statement said. “Finally, we ask for prayer for the EC staff and for our trustees. Our EC staff are committed to serving 47,000 churches, and we are blessed to have them. Our trustees are equally committed to providing the staff with the resources needed to carry out the ministry assignments entrusted to us by the Convention.”
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