Southern Baptists Defend Outgoing Executive Committee Chairman Amid Racism Accusations and Misunderstanding Over Bylaws

Former SBC Executive Committee chairman Mike Stone

Southern Baptist leaders are defending their outgoing Executive Committee chairman, who was tarred as a racist on social media following a misunderstanding over how officers are appointed to the committee.

Amid ongoing unease about the theological direction of the nation’s largest Protestant group, allegations emerged last week that a new theologically conservative network within the Southern Baptist Convention was attempting to take over the denomination’s Executive Committee, and that its now former chairman, Mike Stone, was a racist for denying the new chairman, Rolland Slade — the first-ever African American to hold the position — from nominating new EC officers.

The EC, which has 86 members, serves as the administrative arm of the SBC that some have referred to as the Southern Baptist “House of Representatives.” It reviews the work of the Convention’s many ministry endeavors, distributes funds given for the various missions, plans and manages the denomination’s annual meeting, and handles legal matters, among other things.

Stone explained in an interview with The Christian Post Monday that the bylaws of the SBC only allow the election of officers to occur at a meeting held the day before the denomination’s annual meeting and state specifically that they are to occur at the convention hotel. Yet due to the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a special EC meeting had to be called. The bylaws had to be amended to permit the election of officers, a simple revision that had been discussed for nearly a month by EC officers, including Stone and Slade.

Four days before the required deadline to announce the new bylaw amendment, Stone became aware that the CEO of the EC, Ronnie Floyd, was proposing a substantial revision to the process to elect officers, which would have given the incoming chairman, Slade, the ability to make the nominations of officers. Historically, that responsibility has always been given to the outgoing chairman, and revising this process had not been previously discussed. When Stone realized how substantial the change was, Stone convened a meeting, the officers reviewed it and unanimously declined Floyd’s recommendation, a unanimity which included the new chairman. SBC bylaws also require 10 days’ notice if the bylaws are to be amended.

“Therefore, it came painted as my attempt to take a nomination privilege away from Mr. Slade, the first-ever African-American chair of the committee. That’s where the racial accusation (against Stone) came in,” Stone told CP.

An amendment offered at a recent EC meeting by SBC pastor and EC member Jared Wellman that mirrored what Floyd had previously pitched to the officers was voted down. Wellman published a blog post in SBC Voices on June 24 accusing Stone of manipulating the process and argued that the Conservative Baptist Network was operating in a heavy-handed manner with “double-minded messaging.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter