NASHVILLE (BP) — Ronnie Floyd, who will assume office as president/CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee on May 20, has named Ed Upton as assistant to the president.
Upton, 38, has been president of the Cross Church School of Ministry in northwest Arkansas since May 2017. He served as campus pastor for Cross Church’s campus in Neosho, Mo., from 2015-2017.
Floyd, elected as the EC’s president/CEO April 2 in Dallas, has led Cross Church since 1986. He was SBC president from 2014-2016 and is a former chairman of the Executive Committee.
In a description of the role of assistant to the president, Floyd said Upton will “forward and advance the vision, the values, the culture, and the priorities of the President to the Executive Committee Staff Team and Members, as well as all of our partners in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Floyd, in comments to Baptist Press, noted, “Dr. Ed Upton loves the Gospel and loves the Great Commission. He wants to do all he can in his late 30s to help our convention be all we need to be today and in the future.”
And, in his 30s, Upton has excelled in leadership “by already investing in the generation around him and the generation behind him, building great leaders and teams of leaders,” Floyd said.
“Dr. Upton walked near me when I served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and, through his role as the president of our Cross Church School of Ministry, he has become highly connected with leaders in most of our SBC entities. Additionally, through his close work with me as president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, he has also become highly connected with many evangelical leaders,” said Floyd, who has led the task force since 2017.
“Dr. Upton has grown up under my ministry in northwest Arkansas,” Floyd said. “He knows who I am, what I am about, the culture I want to build and what is most important to me. Therefore, when I know I will need someone to help me forward and advance the vision, the values, the culture and the priorities that I want to establish in this role, I cannot think of anyone more prepared, more energetic and more committed to help me do this.”
Upton, prior to his service at Cross Church, was minister to adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church’s north campus in Prosper, Texas, from 2012-2015 and minister to single adults at Prestonwood’s main campus in Plano from 2010-2012.
In 2008-2009, he worked as special events project manager for Walmart’s information systems division in Bentonville, Ark.
Upton earned doctor of ministry and master of divinity degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 2014 and 2010, respectively, and an undergraduate degree in counseling from Freedom Bible College in Rogers, Ark. in 2007.
Adam W. Greenway, the new president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in comments to Baptist Press, “I have had the privilege of being both his first seminary professor as well as his doctoral supervisor, and can well attest to his extensive gifts and capabilities for ministry as well as his personal and professional integrity.” Greenway was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry from 2013-2019 and earlier a faculty member when Upton was enrolled there.
“I have every confidence Ed will help our new EC President Ronnie Floyd lead Southern Baptists toward greater cooperation and partnership in the mission of connecting all people to Jesus Christ,” Greenway said.
Nick Floyd, who will become Cross Church’s senior pastor May 19, described Upton as “a proven leader. He understands the SBC and knows what it takes to lead towards unity. I couldn’t be more proud and happy as he joins my father in this new assignment.”
Jeff Crawford, Cross Church’s lead pastor of ministries and teaching pastor, said Upton is “a next gen leader who loves our convention and loves the local church and understands the times in which we live.”
Upton “has served the Cross Church family on multiple levels and his departure will leave a hole in our leadership,” Crawford said. “But I couldn’t be more happy for Ed as he makes this move to serving all Southern Baptists.”
Floyd founded the Cross Church School of Ministry in 2013, now with 45 participants currently enrolled, and to date more than 100 graduates. According to its website, it is a “one-year residential ministry experience that prepares leaders for life, ministry, and Gospel advancement globally,” complementing university and seminary education that participants have already received or may yet receive.
Upton and his wife Eleanor have four children ranging in age from 5 to 18.