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New EC presidential search team to begin work

Newly elected SBC EC presidential search team members gather for prayer following a special called EC meeting in Dallas May 1. At the meeting, the original search team's recommendation for president failed, which triggered the election of a new search team. BP photo by Adam Covington

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the schedule of the group’s first meeting.

NASHVILLE (BP) — A new search team for the next SBC Executive Committee president and CEO is in place, as required through the EC’s bylaws following the May 1 vote by trustees not to proceed with the previous search team’s recommendation.

Presidential search team members are (left to right) David Sons, Corey Cain, Neal Hughes, Nancy Spalding, Drew Landry and Sarah Rogers. Nick Sandefur is not pictured. BP photo by Adam Covington

Those making up the search team are:

  • Corey Cain, lead pastor of Seymour First Baptist Church in Seymour, Tenn.
  • Neal Hughes, director of missions for Montgomery Baptist Association in Alabama
  • Drew Landry, senior pastor of Spotswood Baptist Church near Fredericksburg, Va.
  • Sarah Rogers, a homemaker, former public school teacher and women’s ministry leader at Christ Fellowship Church in Greenville, S.C.
  • Nick Sandefur, senior pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Nicholasville, Ky.
  • Nancy Spalding, recently retired CPA who attends Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, Mich.
  • David Sons, lead pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, S.C., who as Executive Committee chair will serve in an ex officio role.

The group is planning to hold its first meeting during the week of May 8 via Zoom, during which a chairperson will be appointed.

Hughes is the longest tenured EC member of the search team, having first joined in 2018 before accepting another four-year term in 2022. Sandefur, Spalding and Sons began as trustees in 2020. Cain is among three search team members, alongside Landry and Rogers, who joined the Executive Committee last year.

Corey Cain

Cain ministers in an area that is in unincorporated Sevier County, but big enough that it’s considered a suburb of Knoxville, in Knox County.

For years “Seymour Community Park” was marked on Instagram by people who didn’t realize no such thing existed. They were actually enjoying the walking track and other amenities in the green space owned by First Baptist Seymour. The area is deemed a “census-designated place” by the government with a 2020 population of 15,444.

Cain was among those pastors who had to navigate a ministry change at the beginning of the COVID shutdown.

“We met the search team on the Thursday that all kinds of things like the NBA and NHL shut down. My wife and I were walking through the parking lot after eating when we got the email that our Disney vacation was canceled because the park was closing,” he said.

Cain would close out 14 years as pastor of Maplewood Baptist in Paris, Tenn., before accepting a call at First Seymour. His first message came on the first Sunday in July. Previous leadership roles include vice chair for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and chair of various committees, Tennessee Baptist Convention vice president and president of the Tennessee Baptist Pastors’ Conference.

A father of three, Cain has been a volunteer youth league coach and active in developing partnerships with local healthcare foundations and hospitals. The 46-year-old is a health advocate who, after a five-year hiatus from triathlon competition, is training for one in August alongside his son.

In terms of prayer, Cain pointed to the search team’s family members.

“I know the previous committee spent a lot of time together,” he said. “There’s a definite sense of calling and what’s at stake for all of this, and our families and ministries are affected by that. God is working at Seymour First Baptist and I don’t want what I’m doing on this search committee to wrongly affect that.”

Neal Hughes

Hughes began his ministry as a pastor in 1976 at Pike Avenue Baptist in Birmingham before moving on to McGehee Road Baptist in Montgomery, where he stayed for 18 years.

While at McGehee Road the church developed a multi-housing church planting effort called Community of Hope. North American Mission Board leaders took note and in 2000 invited McGehee to join the entity as its multi-housing church planting director. While with NAMB, Hughes also worked in the Evangelism department and led in the development for God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS).

Hughes retired from NAMB and reconnected with the Montgomery area in 2016 when he became director of missions for the association.

“I enjoy associational missions and how it is intimately tied to the local church,” he said. “I want to help pastors and motivate them.”

Focus is a key point for the search team, he pointed out.

“When you boil everything down it comes to one mission – the Great Commission – and one program – the Cooperative Program. We need a leader who will take us to that focus. I ask Southern Baptists to pray that we will not wander from that and stay united.

“We have a challenge ahead, but the Holy Spirit will guide us.”

Drew Landry

A native of Baton Rouge, Landry was among one of the youngest pastors to ever serve as a member of the Louisiana Baptist Executive Board. He would eventually be called from his home state to Delaware and then to Spotswood Baptist 17 years ago.

Nationally, Landry has been a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations and, in 2015, stepped in to preach at the SBC Pastors’ Conference when Paul David Tripp was delayed by weather.

While in Delaware he was active in a refocusing (revitalization) movement among churches. Partnerships with church plants in the D.C. area through NAMB have led to several ethnic congregations meeting on Spotswood’s campus.

“I’m particularly excited about our deaf church plant,” he said. “It meets on our campus and is ahead of schedule. They’ll start as a church on May 14 (Mother’s Day).”

Landry has also been involved in mentoring pastors and forming partnerships with elementary schools in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County.

“Unity is really important. Not conformity, but unity,” he said of the team’s prayer needs. “We really need to be focused on having a leader for such a time as this for Southern Baptists. I’m passionate about what we’re doing in missions and the Cooperative Program is the best way to fund everything we do.”

Sarah Rogers

Rogers and her husband Matt, currently on a 20th anniversary trip in Europe, led in planting Christ Fellowship in 2010. The former public school teacher now homeschools their five children ranging in age from 16 to 4 as well as teaches in their homeschool co-op.

In addition, she leads Christ Fellowship’s women’s ministry and serves in the worship and kids ministries.

Rogers is also active in The Pillar Network, “which seeks to equip, plant and revitalize Southern Baptist churches,” she said. “I provide resources and encourage ministry wives throughout this network of churches all over the U.S. and the world.”

A lifelong Southern Baptist, Rogers worked at Summersalt, a camp of the South Carolina Baptist Convention while attending North Greenville University.

She asked for Southern Baptists to “pray for wisdom for the team and for God to provide a leader for the EC who will keep their focus on the Great Commission and the Cooperative Program.”

Nick Sandefur

Sandefur has served as a lead pastor for more than 30 years in Kentucky churches. For two-and-a-half years he was a regional consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention before becoming the lead pastor at Porter Memorial in 2016.

Other areas of service include the SBC Committee on Nominations, board member for the Sunrise Children’s Home, KBC Executive Director search team, KBC Mission Board member, KBC Resolution Committee (chair) and KBC Committee on Nominations.

Sandefur is confident that Southern Baptists are capable of overcoming division.

“We find ourselves in a difficult season,” he said. “As has always been the case, we do not agree on everything, but I know that we agree on enough to work together. Our love for cooperative missions internationally and in North America, coupled with our desire to equip laborers and provide opportunities for them, is a strong tie that binds us.

“I am humbled to serve our great work in this capacity. I trust that the sovereign God will help us find the right person to lead us in our cooperative giving, training and sending efforts.”

Nancy Spalding

Spalding retired in December after 45 years as a CPA. While her schedule during tax season has greatly opened up, it doesn’t remain empty.

“I currently serve on the membership team at Cornerstone Baptist,” she said. “We interview new members, get them acclimated to the church and answer their questions.”

Spalding was on the church’s finance team, but rotated off when she joined the Executive Committee. Her husband, Albert, is an elder at Cornerstone, where they have been members for 17 years.

She is heavily involved and chair of the national board of Crossroads Farm, an interdenominational ministry focused on rural teens. 

“It’s so that every rural teen would have the chance to respond to the Gospel,” she said. “You meet kids and develop relationships. We go into very poor rural areas. It’s been a great encouragement to rural pastors.”

Retirement has also opened up the opportunity to be involved in Send Relief. Cornerstone will host a training event on May 13.

“I’m really excited about it and have wanted more people at our church involved. We reached the maximum number of 40 participants and are scheduling another session,” she said.

“I’d ask Southern Baptists to pray for God’s will to be made very clear to us, for us to trust His timing,” she said. “We want to find the person who will unify us and lead us toward fulfilling the Great Commission. This is a great group of people and I’m really encouraged by who’s on our team.”

David Sons

Sons joined the staff at Lake Murray Baptist Church in 2015, accepting a call to become lead pastor in 2021. He has served in a number of state convention roles, most recently as vice chair of the 2021 SCBC Committee on Committees.

Sons was selected by fellow trustees in February 2022 to serve on the initial search team. That June he was elected to the post of Executive Committee vice chair when Texas pastor Jared Wellman was elected chair.

Sons became chair recently when Wellman resigned upon his impending nomination for the EC president and CEO position. He is also chair of the 2023 Committee on Resolutions, a role he was named to in March by SBC President Bart Barber.

He and the search team would value Southern Baptists’ prayers for “wisdom as we make decisions regarding the selection of our next candidate for EC president,” Sons said. “These are challenging times and the committee needs the prayers and support of all Southern Baptists to complete the task.”

Executive Committee members elected the new presidential search committee on May 1 following the vote to not affirm Wellman to the position. Interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin will continue to fill the role left vacant by the resignation of Ronnie Floyd in October 2021.