EC search committee cautions against speculation

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The committee charged with nominating the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee "has not begun to look at names yet" and says "any speculation or social media posts about who we may nominate is just that, speculation," according to an update released today (June 20) by search committee chairman Steve Swofford.

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.
Photo by Matt Miller
The update was addressed to EC members and provided to Baptist Press for publication.

Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas, also told EC members, "When we are prepared to offer a name for consideration, we will do our reporting first and foremost with you, the full Executive Committee. Once we inform you that we are prepared to offer a name (as per our EC bylaws), we will release a statement through Baptist Press that will outline the information we first shared with you. We will not be releasing anything via social media."

Among highlights of the search committee's work thus far, according to the update, were election of Adron Robinson of Illinois as vice chairman and Carol Yarber of Texas as secretary; review of the process used to elect the previous two EC presidents and the processes being used by "other SBC entities" in their current search processes; and review of input received from "EC members, state executives, and SBC entity heads."

The seven-member committee -- which also includes Joe Knott of North Carolina, Stephen Rummage of Florida, Rolland Slade of California and Mike Stone of Georgia -- will receive recommendations through June 30, Swofford wrote. Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga., joined the search committee June 11 as an ex officio member by virtue of his election as EC chairman.

The full text of Swofford's update follows this report.

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Letter from Steve Swofford to SBC Executive Committee members:

Dear Executive Committee Members,

With only ten days remaining before we close the online nomination portal for our EC presidential search, I want to give you an update about where we are in the search process for our next president and CEO. I also want to welcome our eleven new Executive Committee members to their service on the EC.

On April 24, I sent an email to our Executive Committee members asking them to share with us what they consider to be the five most important characteristics of the next president. I want to extend the same courtesy to our new members. I know all of you are extremely busy, but we hope to gather your thoughts on this matter as soon as possible. Please email them to me at steve@firstrockwall.org.

So far, your search committee has taken the following action steps:

-- We elected our officers: Steve Swofford, chair; Adron Robinson, vice chair; and Carol Yarber, secretary.

-- We reviewed and discussed in detail the process used for the election of the last two Executive Committee presidents, as well as what other SBC entities are doing in terms of their search committee processes.

-- We reviewed/discussed the input we solicited and received from EC members, state executives, and SBC entity heads.

-- We have been receiving recommendations, and will continue to do so until June 30, at which time we will close the online portal for making nominations.

-- Following the election of Mike Stone as our Executive Committee chairman last Monday, we met for a time of prayer and orientation as he became the seventh member of our committee.

The search committee has not begun to look at names yet. I want to assure you that any speculation or social media posts about who we may nominate is just that, speculation.

I also want to assure you that when we are prepared to offer a name for consideration, we will do our reporting first and foremost with you, the full Executive Committee. Once we inform you that we are prepared to offer a name (as per our EC bylaws), we will release a statement through Baptist Press that will outline the information we first shared with you. We will not be releasing anything via social media. I have included the pertinent section of our EC Bylaws for our new members since you have not yet gone through new member orientation.

6.5 Presidential Search Committee. In the event of the resignation of the president, or a vacancy occurs in the office of president for any reason, the board of trustees shall elect six of its members who shall, with the chairperson of the board as an ex-officio member with the right to vote, constitute a seven-member presidential search committee.

6.5.1 This committee shall be elected by written ballot from nominees offered from the floor. Each trustee shall be allowed to cast a vote for as many as six of the nominees but may cast only one vote for any nominee. The six nominees with the greatest number of votes shall be elected to and shall constitute the committee. The committee shall select from among its membership a chairperson and secretary.

6.5.2 When prepared to do so, the committee shall offer to the board of trustees, in a meeting of the board held in executive session, a nominee for the office of president. No other nominations may be offered. Following the committee's report, the board of trustees shall have the opportunity to hear and question the nominee and to discuss the nomination prior to voting by ballot whether to elect the nominee. A trustee who is present but who chooses not to vote shall register his presence by submitting a ballot which indicates no vote. If the nominee receives a majority of the votes of trustees present, the nominee shall be elected. If the nominee is not elected, a new presidential search committee shall be selected as provided above and the nomination process shall be repeated.

As outgoing EC chairman Stephen Rummage stated last week at both the EC meeting and the SBC annual meeting, we will not be bound by time constraints or social pressures, but will continue to work through the process carefully as we seek to find God’s man to serve as our president.

Please pray for us as we work on your behalf to find the person God already has in mind for this strategic position.

Steve Swofford, Chairman

EC Presidential Search Committee

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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