ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Robert E. Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, announced his resignation April 17 from the Southern Baptist entity he has led since its creation nine years ago.
Speaking to nearly 200 NAMB staff members at NAMB’s Atlanta-area offices, Reccord said he made the decision, which was effective immediately, with “mixed emotions.”
“I am thankful for the countless numbers of people we have seen come to Christ and the thousands of churches we have seen planted and nurtured,” he said. “On the other hand, I regret we were not able to complete a number of things we have started or dreamed about. I regret that events of recent weeks have created an environment which makes it difficult to lead the organization and to stay on mission.”
The events Reccord referred to resulted from a lengthy article two months ago in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. The article, which was critical of the entity’s accomplishments and Reccord’s leadership, led to an investigation by NAMB’s board of trustees which also was critical of some of NAMB’s more innovative initiatives and decisions under Reccord’s leadership.
During his announcement, Reccord told employees he has found it increasingly difficult to be an entrepreneurial leader within a denominational structure.
“I believe that honest philosophical and methodological differences have brought us to this point of separate directions,” Reccord said.
He added he hopes he has “demonstrated my love for and commitment to Southern Baptists and all for which we stand.”
“I also hope I have demonstrated a Kingdom heart and mindset,” Reccord continued. “It is this mindset and my entrepreneurial bent that have led us to explore more effective applications of technology and media; strategies for reaching a wider range of demographic groups; and creative evangelism initiatives.”
Barry Holcomb, chairman of NAMB’s board of trustees, read a statement to the mission board’s employees, acknowledging Reccord’s accomplishments, integrity and visionary leadership style.
“I stand here today with Dr. Reccord to say thank you for nine years of tireless service to the North American Mission Board,” Holcomb said. “As an agency, we’ve seen growth in many areas, including increases in our church planting efforts, a significant increase in mission personnel and the dramatic increase and impact of our disaster relief work.”
Holcomb said Reccord had “sought to provide leadership that was both consistent and visionary,” and he emphasized that neither a special focused financial audit nor an investigation by the trustees themselves revealed “evidence that Dr. Reccord had done anything unethical in his role as president.”
“I believe that important fact has been lost in all the conversation and articles written about the report. Dr. Reccord’s integrity is strong and solid today, and I want to emphasize it clearly.”
Holcomb said, “Contrary to some opinions, Dr. Reccord is in no way being asked to resign, let alone forced to resign. He is taking this step for what he feels is best for Christ’s Kingdom…. I believe that this is one of the strongest evidences of his personal character and integrity.”
Holcomb, who is pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Andalusia, Ala., acknowledged “there are times in the life of every agency when changes are made, not on the basis of crises, but in large part on the basis of vision.”
“Dr. Reccord has aptly noted that in [Southern Baptist] 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,” Holcomb said.
Reccord told employees he doesn’t know what he is going to do but has already received several calls asking him to consider various ministry opportunities.
“We will follow God’s leadership to do what is best for the Kingdom,” he said.
“Stepping away will allow me to leave behind a never-ending stream of administrative responsibilities and focus on unleashing men, women and young people to fulfill their God-given calling and change the world.”
To that end, Holcomb announced that Reccord will serve as a liaison between NAMB and Promise Keepers as he speaks at 19 PK events across the country from June through October.
“NAMB and Promise Keepers entered into an agreement earlier this year to work together to mobilize workers for the rebuild that continues along the Gulf Coast following last year’s hurricanes,” Holcomb said. “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 Baptists.”
Holcomb announced NAMB’s trustees will consider naming an interim president at its upcoming May 2 meeting as well as begin the search process for a new president.
In the meantime, Carlos Ferrer, NAMB’s chief financial officer, who was named the previous week as the interim chief operating officer, would assume all executive leadership responsibilities, Holcomb said.
“Carlos is a man of great giftedness and integrity, and he will provide outstanding leadership during this time.” Ferrer, a native of Cuba, joined the former Home Mission Board in 1992 as controller.
Reccord closed his remarks to the employees affirming his own confidence in the SBC’s domestic mission board.
“Southern Baptists everywhere can be proud of their North American Mission Board’s effectiveness and efficiencies. They can be proud of their missionaries,” Reccord said. “They can give with confidence that tremendous financial efficiencies have been achieved as a result of the denomination’s restructuring and a conscientious staff’s diligent efforts.”