NASHVILLE (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president and CEO Ronnie Floyd announced Friday (Nov. 1) the addition of three full-time EC staff positions focusing on increasing diverse engagement and mobilization.
Building on the foundation laid by retiring vice president for Convention advancement Ken Weathersby, these positions will focus on relations and mobilization for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. The EC is already actively searching for the right leaders to fill the positions.
“We want to create more relationships and pathways for everyone to be part of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Floyd. “One of the greatest ways to impact a relationship is to be mobilized on mission with people who believe the same. We want to mobilize people to fields in North American missions, international missions, the missions of individual churches, and to our cooperative efforts together. We have no alternative but to find ways to work together.”
The EC previously announced that Weathersby would be retiring due to a medical disability causing visual impairment. Weathersby began his role in 2013 and was responsible for increasing ethnic participation and growing relationships with demographic subsets within the SBC.
“Ken put groups together that had never been together before, and encouraged conversation that was honest, forthright and could move people toward a common goal,” Floyd said. “That has now opened doors for ministry opportunity, engagement and mobilization more than ever before. The Southern Baptist family is bigger than many might think. We need to develop a culture that welcomes all. Now is the time we need to seize the moment.”
The new staff structure comes after two decades of growth among non-anglo congregations in the SBC, from 13.5 percent in 1998 to 22.2 percent in 2017, according to the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research. Current church planting efforts also demonstrate the need for increased engagement. In 2018, 62 percent of plants supported by SBC partners were non-anglo, including 45 African-American, 64 Asian, 106 Hispanic and 78 multiethnic churches.
Throughout his tenure, Weathersby worked with various groups and chaired the Convention Advancement Advisory Council. This group is composed of representatives from the Hispanic Advisory Council, African American Advisory Council, Asian American Advisory Council, Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council, Bivocational and Small Church Advisory Council, Women’s Advisory Council and Young Leaders Advisory Council.
According to a 2018 interview with Weathersby, the advisory councils from which the CAAC members were selected “represented more than 10,000 ethnic and language churches and congregations and over 30,000 bivocational and smaller membership congregations.”