Editor’s Note: We received this from Derrick Lynch Monday and are deeply concerned. We checked out the story as best we could with several sources who confirmed it.
The gist of this is a profoundly disturbing accusation which has been confirmed by three authoritative sources.
Dan Anderson was replaced as a trustee of the ERLC because he refused to agree to oppose Dr. Russell Moore.
Of course, this leads to a broader question. Is there a concerted effort to stack the ERLC board with anti-Moore trustees?
Our hope is that this action was taken by a rogue committee member and does not represent an organized campaign. That is possible since each state is effectively a subcommittee on the Committee on Nominations.
To find there was an effort to stack a board with hostile trustees would be horrifying.
Derrick Lynch’s Statement
There has been a great deal of controversy leading up to this year’s annual meeting of our denomination. It has been discouraging, to say the least, and public for all to see. Another issue has slipped under the radar, however, and troubled me enough that I have been actively working in private for weeks to seek a just resolution. I have been left with no recourse but to bring this matter to the attention of our messengers so that they can make a fully informed decision.
On Tuesday, messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention will decide who will serve as our next denominational president. But that same afternoon, messengers will also vote on something that is arguably even more important, and certainly more long lasting; they will elect trustees to each of our Southern Baptist entities.
The Committee on Nominations has denied a second term to Dan Anderson, an ERLC trustee from my state convention—essentially firing him. As far as I can tell this is legal. But as anyone who has been a Southern Baptist for five minutes knows, it is essentially unheard of. I have tried every private avenue I can think of to respectfully ask the committee to reconsider their dismissal of Dan and I have been refused. Further, and I do not say this lightly, I do not believe this issue has been dealt with in good faith.
I have eight concerns.
- In the SBC we just do not deny trustees a second term if they are eligible and willing to serve. I haven’t run the numbers, but I am confident that if I pulled the records of the last twenty years, the number of eligible trustees denied a second term would be so few as to be statistically negligible.
- Dan Anderson was made to feel small, and that is wrong. Earlier this year, when asked by the committee on nominations, Dan Anderson expressed eagerness to continue serving his second term. He turned in the required paperwork and I personally verified this in correspondence with the executive committee. He was then called during the Committee on Nominations meeting in Nashville and again asked if was willing to serve. Dan told me that he said, “Yes” – again. But then he was asked if he had ever objected to anything Dr. Moore said or did and, if not, would he do so. He answered in a way that any godly person should: if Dr. Moore did something he believed was improper, he would pray about it and act accordingly. Apparently, that was not good enough for the committee. He was called a few days later and, according to Dan, was told, “Thank you for your service but we have decided to go another direction.” I can only assume the current nominee answered those same questions to someone’s liking. Dan was hurt and he had every right to be. Frankly, I believe that had Dan been the pastor of a larger and more widely known church, this would have never happened. But I believe that Dan was deemed expendable because folks thought no one would notice or care what happened to a small church pastor. But people have noticed and we do care.
- Dan Anderson is the most unlikely “yes man” you can imagine. Dan has served for decades as a small-church pastor. He’s what some would call a “Traditionalist” in terms of theology. If there were some portrait of what some supposed “yes man” were to look like as an ERLC trustee, he’s just about the opposite of what you would draw up. But apparently it’s not good enough to serve faithfully; to think and pray and vote like a wide swath of Southern Baptists around the country think and pray and vote. You must also be willing to be an obstructionist in service of an agenda that has never been brought before the convention.
- In this instance, theological fidelity was a secondary requirement for serving on the ERLC board. I’ve been around long enough to remember when the Committee on Nomination process was used to guarantee that our boards and agencies were theologically conservative. I was a young minister pursuing an education when this took place and I am eternally grateful for those efforts. But in this instance, theological fidelity mattered less than a political agenda. We fought hard to pull our convention from the death spiral of theological liberalism. I’m afraid, however, that we are becoming known as a people for whom theological concerns are secondary to political ones. This issue seems to confirm that.
- Baptist Press did not report on this accurately. In the Baptist Press article posted April 25, 2018, the committee on nominations report was published per SBC bylaw requirements. The article listed that Dan Anderson “declined to serve” a second term. When I asked Dan about that, he said pointedly, “That is a lie.” I have been told that this was just an administrative error, and I’ve been told by the committee chairman that they are going to list Dan as an “eligible” in the final bulletin that goes before the SBC. But messengers will not have the opportunity to see this until, at the earliest, several hours before they vote on this report. Put simply: even if it is an error, listing Dan as having “declined to serve” and allowing the article to run uncorrected for weeks gives that appearance that another agenda is at work.
- Listing Dan Anderson as “eligible to serve” while denying him a second term could lead to mistaken notions concerning Dan’s character. In our current cultural climate, speculation as to why Dan was not nominated when he was eligible to serve could run wild. As a result, this good and faithful man could potentially have his reputation maligned as people are left to wonder if some moral issue was behind his being denied a second term.
- Questions surrounding the current nominee would place all involved in a difficult, if not impossible situation. What if the current nominee became aware of a legitimate issue that demanded board attention? Would there be a tendency to ignore the concern as nothing more than an effort to undermine the current administration by someone planted by people with an agenda? And what about the board itself? Knowing that a previous trustee was fired for not voicing a willingness to actively work against the president, staff, and board of the ERLC would have a chilling effect on the open and frank discussions needed to carry out the business of the board.
- The Committee on Nominations has been evasive. My first touchpoint with the committee on nominations had nothing to do with this situation. Several days after I read a post on SBC Voices about the efforts of the Committee on Nominations to revise their nominee list to achieve more ethnic diversity, I emailed the chairman of the Committee on Nominations, James Freeman, thinking the committee could use our convention’s open slot at the ERLC to put an ethnic minority in that role. I was told at the time that sort of move would not be likely. As I learned more about why our convention slot was open, and after speaking with Dan Anderson personally, I began regular email communication with James expressing my concern. Our state executive, Bob Mills, did the same and even called James personally. I have also since learned that the chairman of the ERLC Board, Trevor Atwood, reached out to express his concerns. I was not given that assurance in my interactions with Freeman that action would be taken but assumed that the concerns voiced by me and others had been sufficient and that the committee was planning to make a change.
But this did not happen.
Just this week, I received an email from James Freeman saying the committee had decided not to replace the current nominee and that they will press forward with their original nomination. In response, I stated I would act accordingly.
I had every intention of coming to a microphone during the SBC and making the case for why messengers ought not, and really must not, vote to approve this Committee on Nominations report as it stands. However, a former administrative assistant and faithful member at our church passed away Sunday morning and my attendant ministry responsibilities demand that I stay home.
Some will question my motives and that’s fine. You should know that I am a former member of the ERLC Leadership council and friends with some of the current staff and former board members. Five ERLC staff members have spoken in our church over the years, including Dr. Moore. Obtaining this readily available information would lead some to say, “Oh, sure! He’s just acting as a surrogate for ERLC concerns.”
The truth of the matter is that I have the honor of serving as the current president of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. Out here on the edge of convention life, we have plenty to keep us busy and we are rarely heard from in denominational matters. In the heartland of America, there are scores of rural communities where there are no churches that preach Jesus. Over 400,000 people in our two states have no Southern Baptist church to attend in their county, and many of those counties have no evangelical witness at all. So we have tended to mind our own business because the task at hand demands our full attention. But then one of our pastors wasn’t treated with the dignity and respect he deserves. Dan would never take up his own cause, so I had to ask myself, “Who will?” What good am I to our convention as president if I don’t speak up for one of our own?
So proceed with caution, Southern Baptists. The reason why so many younger Christians don’t want to be a part of churches with “Baptist” in the name is that they associate it with bickering and backroom deals. This is exactly what we are dealing with here.
If we say we care about engaging the next generation, let’s not allow backroom politics to tarnish our witness. Let’s not prove the stereotypes to be accurate.
If we care about the trustee system, let’s appoint men and women to these boards who will meet the qualifications laid out in our bylaws, not demand they also serve alternate agendas.
I can’t be in Dallas this year to voice my concerns. But someone must. Someone must go to a microphone and vote to amend this report. We must not let faithful pastors be treated unfairly, and we must not let the work of our entities be compromised.
This is a decision we have to get right. This is a decision not about theology or politics, but rather, about fairness, and ethics, and quite frankly a simple question of doing what is right.
Messengers in Dallas: please do the right thing. Amend the report.