The Mike Stone reign at the Executive Committee has come to an end. That is a very good thing for Southern Baptists. His time as chairman of the Executive Committee has been a disaster in numerous very public ways. His fumbling of the sexual abuse issue was a huge embarrassment for our convention of churches. Yesterday it was revealed that he is a part of the steering council for the Conservative Baptist Network. You’ll notice that he’s not the only member of the EC that is a part of this group. I count six. Two of them are officers.
It’s interesting, but not surprising, that Paige Patterson is missing from the list of members of the steering council. The worst kept secret in the SBC is that the disgraced and unrepentant former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is pulling the strings behind the scenes. This new group is smart enough to know that they can’t publicly hitch their wagon to Patterson. Paige has caused enough harm already. The trauma left behind by his heavy-handed abuse of power over the years is great. No group in Southern Baptist life should be looking to Paige Patterson for guidance or direction. We should all be pleading with him to repent.
It seems like more than a coincidence that the CBN waited until yesterday to release the names of the members of their steering committee. The Executive Committee met on Tuesday to elect new officers. There was first an effort by some members of the Executive Committee to keep Mike Stone in office for another year. That effort failed. Thanks to Jared Wellman for his leadership in speaking against those efforts. And also to JD Greear who brilliantly backed Stone into a corner and forced him to tell the whole committee why they should vote to elect a new chairman. But then Mike Stone still used his position as the outgoing chairman to control the nominations process for the other officers. With two of the people elected as officers being members of the CBN steering council, it’s not surprising that the CBN wanted to wait until those people were in their positions as officers before releasing their names to the public.
One of my major complaints with Mike Stone’s leadership of the EC over the last two years is his use of executive session to keep things hidden in the darkness rather than allowing them to be addressed in the light. Perhaps you remember the February meeting where the Executive Committee voted in executive session to form a task force to investigate the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Stone gave members of the Executive Committee no warning that this was coming up. It was brought up in executive session at the end of a long two days of meetings. This is the kind of secretive heavy-handed leadership that has marked Mike Stone’s time as chairman of the EC.
The ERLC task force wasn’t the only thing done in executive session at the February meeting. The EC also voted to withhold meeting space from the duly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference because of his choices for the program. The EC is supposed to act on behalf of the convention. In voting to withhold meeting space, the EC went directly against the expressed will of the messengers who elected David Uth as the 2020 PC President in 2019.
If that were not enough, there was an attempt by some members of the EC at the February meeting to publicly censure SBC President JD Greear. Thankfully, that effort never made it to the floor of the EC in executive session.
At a time when trust is low in our Southern Baptist Convention, we need less secrecy and more transparency. Stop it with the backroom deals. Forget about hiding in executive session unless absolutely necessary. If you want to form a group to lobby for change, be honest and upfront about who the leaders of the group are.
The Executive Committee is still a mess. It’s hard to know the percentage, but there are a significant number of EC members who have secret agendas that are undermining our cooperative work as Southern Baptists. I’m thankful that Rolland Slade was elected chairman on Tuesday. I trust he will work hard to right the ship. One step in the right direction will be to discontinue the broad use of executive session.