News Articles

God’s provision, faithfulness steady in Executive Committee work, Howe said

SBC EC Interim President & CEO Jonathan Howe addresses the SBC Executive Committee meeting on Feb. 19 in Nashville. Photo by Brandon Porter

NASHVILLE (BP) – God has carried the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC) staff as it remains faithful in the work of the Convention amid dwindling numbers and other challenges, interim president and CEO Jonathan Howe told the committee Feb. 19.

“When I addressed this body in September, I fully expected – and hoped – that to be a one-time thing,” Howe said in addressing the EC during its February meeting in Nashville. “It’s been six months, and as I look back, I see one constant reminder that anything we accomplish here at the EC is a testament to the Spirit’s work and God’s provision and faithfulness.”

Howe has served as interim CEO since August 2023, as the EC continues to look for a fulltime CEO, during staff reductions and as the EC continues to address messengers’ concerns including Convention cooperation, the handling of sexual abuse complaints and other issues.

“While it would be easy to dwell on the issues facing us – and there are plenty – tonight I want to focus on the work of a small band of faithful servants at the EC over the past few months,” he said, “and by God’s grace, I want to address you tonight by telling you about them.”

He recalled the comments of Chuck Lawless, dean of doctoral studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, regarding the biblical judge Gideon as he prepared for battle against the Midianites. God dwindled Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300, a change necessary for Gideon’s victory.

Howe was not drawing a parallel to Gideon’s battle, but to the God who carried Gideon to victory for the Lord’s glory.

“We should not think of everything in the SBC as a battle. This is a cooperative work and should be seen and treated as such,” he said. “What I came away with is that the same God who delivered the victory for Gideon and the Israelites is the same God who continues to carry us through whatever we may be facing.”

He noted the work of SBC entities and volunteers in disaster relief, sending missionaries, planting churches, training ministers and other outreaches for God’s glory.

“Our cooperative work is not transformative if it’s all about us. And the only way we have success here at the EC or IMB (International Mission Board), or at NAMB (North American Mission Board) or any of our seminaries, or our state conventions or anywhere else,” he said, “is through the life-changing work of the Spirit of the risen Lord.”

He recognized the EC staff for selfless, Spirit-driven work in serving churches, including the Convention Advancement and Relations team of Charles Grant and Amanda McCreary, for rebuilding and strengthening SBC cooperative relationships; the work of Christy Peters and Amy Thompson in serving elected and appointed committees of the Convention; the Baptist Press team of Brandon Porter, Laura Erlanson, Scott Barkley and Diana Chandler; the accounting team of Mike Bianchi, Matt Murphy, Tiana White and Ruth Ann Williams, who process more than $450 million annually; SBC Annual Meeting planners Lynn Richmond and Steve Cowart, and Executive Assistant to the President Sharon Robinson.

Hillary Krantz, executive assistant and strategic partnership manager, and Annual Meeting team member Rachel Gulledge annually bring in about $2 million in sponsorships, Howe said.

He noted the spirit-filled work of Michael Brown and Phil Baker in Facilities; Director of Digital Media Chris Chapman, Creative Director Andy Beachum, Publication and Project Coordinator Madison Burnette, Manager of Information Technology Wayne Mann and Media Relations Director Jon Wilke.

“These are your EC staffers. Their work goes mostly unheralded – and that’s kind of the point,” Howe said. “Because they’re not here to make names for themselves or for their own glory. They are role models for me.

“I’m thankful for this team, and I’m thankful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this role these past few months. May God be glorified in all we do today, tomorrow and forevermore.”