ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Bob Reccord resigned this morning (April 17) as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board.
Reccord was the focus of a special March 23 trustee meeting in which a 19-page report by a trustee task force was discussed. The report dealt in large measure with various issues related to Reccord’s leadership of the mission board.
Reccord has been NAMB’s president since its founding in 1997 as part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s restructuring, called “Covenant for a New Century.”
Trustee chairman Barry Holcomb, in a statement released April 17, noted that Reccord “has sought to provide leadership that was both consistent and visionary.”
“… Contrary to some opinions, Dr. Reccord is in no way being asked to resign, let alone forced to resign,” Holcomb said, noting that Reccord “is taking this step for what he feels is best for Christ’s Kingdom.”
“While others might have placed their own personal well-being ahead of what was best for NAMB, Dr. Reccord is doing just the opposite,” Holcomb said. “I believe that this is one of the strongest evidences of his personal character and integrity. He has a strong love for our missionaries, for those who work within NAMB and for our Trustees. And so taking the high road of leadership on behalf of our missionaries, our agency, and our convention, he is resigning today as President.”
Holcomb, an Alabama pastor, added that Reccord “has aptly noted that in convention life, entrepreneurial leadership and denominational requirements may be at odds with one another. This is no one’s fault — it is simply a reality.”
Holcomb also noted that both a financial audit and the trustees’ task force report revealed no ethical problems related to Reccord’s leadership of NAMB.
“Read in a vacuum, one might leap to the conclusion that nothing positive has happened at NAMB over the past nine years. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, any impression gleaned from our report that suggests that the Trustees are either unaware or unappreciative of the many strong accomplishments at NAMB by our President or our people is incorrect. I believe I speak for our board when I say that we are very grateful for the wonderful ministry that has been accomplished by our missionaries and our staff, under Dr. Reccord’s leadership.”
The report by the nine-member trustee task force contained recommendations that were adopted by the full board stipulating that Reccord would work under several sets of “Executive Level controls.”
Among the concerns of the trustee report was the outsourcing of media work without a bidding process to a firm owned by a friend of Reccord. The trustee task force said no conflict of interest had occurred but the arrangement had left the board open to such an accusation.
The task force report also stated that Reccord had “underdeveloped his relationships” with state Baptist conventions and their executive leadership.
Concerns over Reccord’s leadership initially were voiced in a Feb. 16 article by Georgia Baptists’ newsjournal, The Christian Index.
Reccord was senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va., from 1992 until his selection as NAMB’s president in 1997. Earlier he had served as senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., and co-pastor of Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. He also is a former director of leadership training for Evangelism Explosion International.
NAMB primarily was formed in 1997 in the SBC restructuring’s merger of the former Home Mission Board, Radio and Television Commission and Brotherhood Commission.
The full statement by Barry Holcomb, chairman of the North American Mission Board’s trustees, follows:
As Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I stand here today with Dr. Reccord to say “Thank You” for nine years of tireless service to the North American Mission Board. He has faced what have been at times overwhelming challenges during the founding years of a new agency. With the help of the Lord, the great staff of NAMB, and the many Trustees who’ve served throughout the years, Dr. Reccord has worked to integrate the Brotherhood Commission, the Radio and Television Commission, and the Home Mission Board into what is now known as the North American Mission Board. As an agency we’ve seen growth in many areas, including increases in our church planting efforts that have brought into Southern Baptist life over 12, 250 new congregations, a significant increase in mission personnel and the dramatic increase and impact of our disaster relief work.
Through the years, we’ve had our share of challenges that accompany any new organization. As a Board and as an agency, we’ve had important decisions to make related to the BFM 2000, our chaplains ministry, and even the status of some of our cooperative agreements. Through it all, Dr. Reccord has sought to provide leadership that was both consistent and visionary.
Several weeks ago, an article appeared in the Christian Index here in Georgia that called into question the effectiveness of NAMB under Dr. Reccord’s leadership. While it is disappointing at the way in which this was handled by the Index, I respect the right of Southern Baptists to ask hard questions of its agencies. In response to the article, Dr. Reccord requested that two independent studies be done. The first was a financial audit by the respected firm, Capin Crouse LLP. They examined all financial records of NAMB thoroughly and determined there to be a clean financial bill of health and Dr. Reccord had done nothing unethical in the way he oversaw finances as President.
The second study Dr. Reccord requested was an investigation into the claims raised by the article in the Index about NAMB. He asked me to appoint a task force of Trustees to do this. I convened a meeting of eight Trustees, who spent many hours talking with employees at NAMB and examining the pertinent issues. The task force report, which was released publicly to communicate to Southern Baptists that at NAMB we have nothing to hide about the way we work and function, found that at a number of points the article was inaccurate. Those inaccuracies were clearly identified in the report. In a couple of other areas, the task force made some recommendations for policy changes at the Board. That being said, however, I want to remind everyone today about the purpose and nature of the report. The task force report was designed solely to respond to the issues raised by the Index. As such, it was a very factual response that reflected the findings of the task force. Read in a vacuum, one might leap to the conclusion that nothing positive has happened at NAMB over the past nine years. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, any impression gleaned from our report that suggests that the Trustees are either unaware or unappreciative of the many strong accomplishments at NAMB by our President or our people is incorrect. I believe I speak for our board when I say that we are very grateful for the wonderful ministry that has been accomplished by our missionaries and our staff, under Dr. Reccord’s leadership.
As I reflect on the findings of the report, there are several things that I want to say. First, I’m grateful to the Trustees who worked on the report, and those who adopted it. Second, I’m grateful that their report, like the financial audit clearly stated that there was no evidence that Dr. Reccord had done anything unethical in his role as President. I believe that important fact has been lost in all of the conversation and articles written about the report. Dr. Reccord’s integrity is strong and solid today, and I want to emphasize it clearly. Third, I want to thank Dr. Reccord for responding as a leader should. It is a rare individual indeed who can face the issues he has faced without lashing out in anger and frustration. Dr. Reccord has exhibited the fruit of the Holy Spirit as he has patiently and lovingly responded to the issues. He has taken responsibility for the things that occurred on his watch, and he has been willing to make corrections where they were needed. Fourth, and finally, I’m grateful that together we have walked through this challenging time with grace and dignity.
Contrary to some opinions, Dr. Reccord is in no way being asked to resign, let alone forced to resign. First, he is taking this step for what he feels is best for Christ’s Kingdom. While others might have placed their own personal well-being ahead of what was best for NAMB, Dr. Reccord is doing just the opposite. I believe that this is one of the strongest evidences of his personal character and integrity. He has a strong love for our missionaries, for those who work within NAMB and for our Trustees. And so taking the high road of leadership on behalf of our missionaries, our agency, and our convention, he is resigning today as President.
Dr. Reccord referenced the second reason he is making this decision in his personal statement. There are times in the life of every agency when changes are made, not on the basis of crisis, but in large part on the basis of vision. Dr. Reccord has aptly noted that in convention life, entrepreneurial leadership and denominational requirements may be at odds with one another. This is no one’s fault—it is simply a reality. There is no question God has some special things in store for the next chapter of this “out of the box” thinker.
As Dr. Reccord steps in a new direction it is with a strong love for NAMB and its mission force. That being the case, I’m glad to announce that he will be serving as a liason Ambassador between NAMB and Promise Keepers this year as he speaks at their events. NAMB and Promise Keepers entered into an agreement earlier this year to work together to mobilize workers for the rebuild that continues to take place in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina. I’m thankful that Dr. Reccord has the opportunity and the desire to challenge Christian men across America to invest their time and talents alongside Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts. Such collaboration will be the answer to the prayer of many who were ravaged by the storms.
In conclusion, I want to say how thankful I am for the opportunity I’ve had to work with Dr. Reccord here at NAMB. We as a Board are grateful for his faithful ministry, his visionary leadership and for the many ways God has used him. I’m grateful for the way God is using both he and Mrs. Reccord all across America to challenge Christians to be On Mission right where they are and to lead a life that supports their commitment to Christ. We are grateful for his passion to challenge young people in the workplace to understand that they are “made to count.” And we are grateful that God is expanding his opportunity for ministry exponentially today. Dr. and Mrs. Reccord, please know that our prayers are with you during this time of transition. We believe that God will continue to use you both in mighty ways throughout his kingdom.