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EC UPDATES: Members hear from presidential search team, legal study group

The SBC Executive Committee Presidential Search Committee members Nancy Spalding, Nick Sandefur, Sarah Rogers, Neal Hughes, Drew Laundry, and Corey Cain (l-r), presents an update to the EC on Feb. 19 in Nashville. Photo by Brandon Porter.

EC members encouraged to ‘pencil in’ March 21 for president/CEO vote

By Scott Barkley/Baptist Press

NASHVILLE (BP) – Executive Committee President/CEO Search Team chair Neal Hughes told trustees Tuesday night to expect an email by Feb. 29 announcing the name of a candidate and to tentatively plan for a March 21 called meeting in Dallas for a vote.

“A candidate is emerging [and] we believe he’s an excellent choice for the SBC Executive Committee president/CEO position,” said Hughes. “Therefore, as we hope, you can expect an email … for trustees only. Please save the date, but don’t book anything. Pencil it in.”

Hughes was selected to lead the most recent iteration of the search team in June when the previous team’s candidate, Texas pastor Jared Wellman, did not receive the necessary vote by trustees. The interim candidate from that point, Willie McLaurin, resigned in August after confessing to falsifying educational credentials on his resume.

Then last month, another potential candidate selected by the committee, Thomas Hammond, withdrew his name after it became “clear that God’s will is for us to remain in Georgia.”

“You have been and continue to be our chief encourager,” Hughes told the EC Monday, adding that the special called meeting was expected to take place from noon until 3 p.m. Central time. “We ask that you, along with every Southern Baptist, fast and pray.”

EC members hear from legal strategy work group chairman

By Laura Erlanson/Baptist Press

Virginia attorney Josh Hetzler, chairman of the Executive Committee’s legal study group, gives an update to members Monday (Feb. 19). Photo by Brandon Porter

NASHVILLE (BP) – Josh Hetzler, chairman of an ad hoc study committee tasked with reviewing the long-term legal strategy of the SBC and the SBC Executive Committee, gave a brief update to EC members at their Monday night (Feb. 19) plenary session in Nashville.

Hetzler, an attorney in Chester, Va., said the group has met five times via Zoom and had met in person for the first time earlier that day.

He also read language adopted at a November 2023 special-called EC meeting to remind EC members why the group was formed – to review biblical justice principles (including statutes of limitations); a broader, long-term legal strategy for the EC and SBC and the process by which significant legal decisions are made.

Hetzler said the group is in “fact-finding mode” and has met with financial experts and attorneys and has plans to meet with theologians.

“We know that our recommendations are only as good as the information that we have,” he said.

In written comments for Baptist Press, Hetzler said the group desires to help the EC “make wise and biblical legal decisions.”

“We desire to discover best standard practices for how an organization and entity of this size and prominence effectively navigates the unique legal challenges of a unique cooperative organization like the SBC,” he told BP.

The team has no set timeline, but will continue to meet every other week and to bring an update to the full EC each time it meets “until the work is done,” he said.

Other EC members in the work group are Jack Hunter, Brad Kolman, Dani Bryson, Tim Cox, Todd Stiles, Jay Ridenour, David Horner, Dana McCain, Katie Creery, Laura Jackson and Philip Robertson.

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