DALLAS (BP) – In an unprecedented move, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (SBC EC) did not affirm the candidate nominated by the group’s Presidential Search Committee. Jared Wellman, the EC’s former chairman, did not receive the votes needed to become its next president and CEO.
“It’s been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve the Southern Baptist Convention through the Executive Committee,” Wellman told the group after the vote total was announced.
He said his “heart is with” the EC as it serves in the days ahead.
Calling it an honor to lead the search committee, Adron Robinson said, “The committee worked hard to serve the Executive Committee by presenting the candidate that we felt was qualified to lead the Executive Committee in these turbulent times.
“We respect the decision of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we commit to praying for the new search committee as they begin their work,” he told Baptist Press in a written statement.
Tensions surrounding the vote included the fact that Wellman was a member of the search committee until he recused himself Jan. 26. He had served as an ex-officio member of the search team since June 2022 when he was elected EC chairman. He had served on the EC since 2015 before stepping down in mid-April.
EC members met at Grand Hyatt DFW in executive session as mandated by EC bylaws. The meeting was held in a hybrid format with 11 members joining by Zoom.
The vote total was 50 voting against the recommendation of Wellman and 31 voting in favor. There were 81 members present in the meeting.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed about the outcome of today but I’m hopeful for the future as the new committee begins their work,” said David Sons, EC chairman and member of the previous president search committee.
Sons pledged to do all he could to help ensure the EC can find its new president.
“I am incredibly thankful for the eight years that Dr. Wellman served as an SBC EC Trustee,” said Willie McLaurin who will continue to serve as EC interim president/CEO.
“It was my joy to serve alongside him as he chaired the Executive Committee this past year. I will be praying for Jared and his family.”
SBC President Bart Barber told Baptist Press, “The sentiment of the Executive Committee was unanimous that Jared Wellman is a godly man, a good Southern Baptist and a strong leader. Whatever the outcome was going to be today, there were going to be some people who celebrated it and some people who mourned it.
“Everyone can see now that the Executive Committee is not a rubber stamp. It is a collection of people who take seriously our polity and who vote their conscience.”
The EC elected a new presidential search committee, according to EC bylaws.
Search committee members are:
- Corey Cain (Tennessee)
- Neal Hughes (Alabama)
- Drew Landry (Virginia)
- Sarah Rogers (South Carolina)
- Nick Sandefur (Kentucky)
- Nancy Spalding (Michigan)
- David Sons (South Carolina), ex-officio
McLaurin called on Southern Baptists to pray for the newly-elected search committee members.
“Now is the time for Southern Baptists to unite around living out the great commandment and fulfilling the Great Commission,” he said.
The next meeting of the Executive Committee is scheduled for Monday, June 12, just before the kickoff of the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans.