After 29 years of calling for greater diversity on SBC entity boards, we are presented with a slate of nominees by the Committee on Nominations that is 97% white. This slate of nominees, while likely all good, godly people individually, is not representative of the SBC and is out of step with the consistent call, votes, resolutions, motions, and prayers of the SBC gathered in convention over the past three decades.
“Be it further RESOLVED, That our agencies and institutions seek diligently to bring about greater racial and ethnic representation at every level of Southern Baptist institutional life;” 1989 Resolution on Racism.
“Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6)” 1995 Resolution on Racial Reconciliation
“RESOLVED, That we urge churches to demonstrate their heart for racial reconciliation by seeking to increase racial and ethnic diversity in church staff roles, leadership positions, and church membership” 2015 On Racial Reconciliation
“RESOLVED, That we continually prioritize and monitor our progress in adequately representing the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of our communities in our local congregations and our entities;” 2015 On Racial Reconciliation.
This was a report brought by the Executive Committee in 2015 after a motion in 2014 asking for a review of the progress that the SBC has made on racial reconciliation and asking “how Southern Baptists, facilitated by the Convention’s entities and seminaries, may better reach, make disciples, and raise up leadership from and among diverse racial and ethnic groups in North America.”
The first four recommendations from the Executive Committee in 2015 contained in this report, which was adopted unanimously by the messengers in Columbus, were as follows:
To that end, the Executive Committee formally and humbly suggests the following action steps be undertaken for at least the next five years so that they become ingrained in our normal way of doing business.
- That the president of the SBC report the racial and ethnic composition of the committees and group he appoints each year— the Committee on Committees, the Resolutions Committee, the Credentials Committee, and the Tellers—through Baptist Press; that the SBC Executive Committee include this report in the Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, Part 1; and that the SBC Recording Secretary include this report in the proceedings of the Convention when the president announces his appointments.
- That each state/regional member of the Committee on Committees have a sufficient number of potential nominees to the Committee on Nominations to recommend to the full Committee on Committees so that the Committee on Committees will be able to propose a Committee on Nominations that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the Convention; and that the chairman of the Committee on Committees give special attention that, as much as possible, the final report reflects this intercultural diversity.
- That each member of the Committee on Nominations solicit a sufficient number of potential nominees for the vacancies on the boards and committees of the Convention for which he or she is responsible so that the full Committee will be able to present to the Convention a list of nominees that builds or sustains equitable racial and ethnic diversity on each SBC board and committee; and that the chairman of the Committee on Nominations give special attention that, as much as possible, the final report reflects this intercultural diversity.
- That the chairmen of the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations report the racial and ethnic composition of the committees and boards they nominate each year (along with other information such as representative church sizes, average CP giving of nominees’ churches, baptism ratios, representative ages, and gender considerations) when their reports are released through Baptist Press; that the SBC Executive Committee include these reports in the Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, Part 2; and that the SBC Recording Secretary include these reports in the proceedings of the Convention when the chairmen move the adoption of their respective reports.
Calling for ethnic and racial diversity on our trustee boards is not new. It isn’t something that an outlier group came up with. It is literally something that Southern Baptists have been calling for over and over and over again for the past 30 years with every means at their disposal. Southern Baptists have spoken often and loudly that this is something we want to change – that we believe it is something that God wants changed in us. The result to all of this after so many years is that the Committee on Nominations puts forward 67 white nominees, 1 African American, and 1 Asian American. The new trustees are 97% white.
We do not believe that this result was intentional or that any one person or small group was behind this. We do not believe that there is anything personally wrong with those who were nominated. We are sure that they are wonderful, godly people. But, we also do not believe that this overall result is in line with the stated, declared, and announced will of the SBC over three decades. This stated will is not some kind of outlier. It is the mainstream view of the SBC in every way. Increased ethnic/racial diversity on our entity trustee boards is what the SBC has called for time and again and it has NEVER been opposed in any way with a vote or declaration. But, it is not being carried out. It is time we ask “why?” It is time that the Southern Baptist Convention listens to its own statements, at least. This must change.
Some reactions are beginning to be voiced …