NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A statement signed by 41 pastors and various other Southern Baptist leaders has been distributed affirming the integrity and achievements of Bob Reccord, former president of the North American Mission Board.
Reccord resigned April 17, citing “honest philosophical and methodological differences” with NAMB’s trustees that “have brought us to this point of separate directions.” Reccord had led the mission board since its creation in 1997 as part of the SBC “Covenant for a New Century” restructuring.
Reccord’s resignation followed a March 24 special meeting of NAMB’s 58-member trustee board, who voted to place Reccord under “Executive Level controls” concerning issues addressed in a 19-page report by a nine-member trustee task force. An article in the Georgia Baptist Convention’s newsjournal, The Christian Index, prompted the creation of the task force in mid-February.
The 13-paragraph statement by Reccord’s supporters, issued April 21, said Reccord had “acted with integrity and character throughout his nine year tenure as NAMB’s President and never more so than in these last tumultuous weeks.”
Among the signers were five former SBC presidents; three state convention executive directors; 27 pastors; and one Baptist university president.
The April 21 statement by various SBC leaders noted: “Where he [Reccord] has made misjudgments, he has freely acknowledged them and assumed responsibility. But these are mistakes of the head, not the heart -– the kinds of misjudgments that innovative leaders make in an effort to accomplish things that have never been done before.”
The statement acknowledged: “Despite our belief in Bob’s leadership, we recognize that the President and the Board of Trustees of any organization must be of like mind both philosophically and methodologically. Sometimes honest differences of opinion about leadership style or strategy dictate the need for change….
“We therefore respect and affirm Bob’s decision to step down as President of NAMB for the sake of the Agency and its more than 5,000 missionaries. In fact, this action heightens our respect for his character and demonstrates his willingness to do what is best for the Kingdom even if it results in personal sacrifice.”
The statement commended Reccord for his leadership in several specific areas: “an unprecedented focus on reaching our large metropolitan areas, resulting in more than 320 healthy new church starts in strategic cities alone”; the Nehemiah church planting partnership with the SBC’s six seminaries, “training hundreds of new church planters to reach the most desperate areas of our continent”; growth of the World Changers program to nearly 25,000 high school students engaged in rehabilitating inner-city homes, up from 9,000 students before NAMB was created; coordination of “unprecedented disaster relief efforts by Southern Baptists, who brought hope and help to New York residents after 9/11 and were widely recognized as one of the few bright spots in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma”; and “increased efficiencies at NAMB” through which “millions of additional dollars went into the mission field through state cooperative budgets and new initiatives than would have been available if the [SBC] restructuring had not occurred.”
The statement concluded: “We believe these circumstances have been used by God to forge Bob for even greater ministry in the days ahead. We pledge our support to help make that happen. And we remain proud to call him a friend and the founding President of the North American Mission Board.”
The trustee report, released the day after the March 23 meeting, had stated: “After a great deal of conversation, the Trustees who participated in this process reached some consensus that the primary issues raised in the story [by the Georgia newsjournal] revolve around Dr. Reccord,” particularly that:
— the mission board could be accused of a conflict of interest involving Reccord and a firm to which NAMB has outsourced media work.
— Reccord had “underdeveloped his relationships” with state Baptist conventions and their executive leadership.
“While the Trustees discovered no intentional attempt by Dr. Reccord to show favoritism to a ‘friend’ by retaining and using Steve Sanford and InovaOne for NAMB’s media strategies, they do believe that this decision left both he and the Board open to the charge of a conflict of interest,” the nine-member trustee task force stated.
Concerning Reccord’s relationships with state Baptist conventions, the trustee report listed several “perceptions [that] exist in the state
conventions” and noted: “Because perception is reality for many people, the Trustees feel that it is necessary, at the very least, to ask the question as to why these perceptions exist, and to consider what might be done to assist Dr. Reccord in repairing these relationships and changing the image he may be projecting. After all, the success of the Agency in many ways is related directly to the success its President has in relating to the state conventions.”
Barry Holcomb, chairman of NAMB’s trustees, read a statement to the mission board’s employees after Reccord’s resignation, 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, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Andalusia, Ala., 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 emphasized that neither a special focused financial audit nor the report 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.”
Signers of the letter of support for Reccord include:
Former SBC presidents Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; Jim Henry, former senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.; James Merritt, senior pastor, CrossPoint Community Church in the Atlanta area; Jerry Vines, former senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and H. Edwin Young, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston.
State convention executive directors David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention; Steve Davis, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana; and Anthony Jordan, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Pastors Michael Catt, Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Ga.; Michael Dean, Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas; Ronnie Floyd, First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.; Rob Futral, Broadmoor Baptist Church, Madison, Miss.; Michael Hamlet, First Baptist Church, North Spartanburg, S.C.; Dean Haun, First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ga.; Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Tony Lambert, Crossgates Baptist Church, Brandon, Miss.; Michel Lewis, Great Hills Baptist Church, Austin, Texas; Hollie Miller, Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn.; Forest Pollock, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Fla.; Richard Powell, McGregor Baptist Church, Fort Myers, Fla.; Russell Shinpock, First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga.; Jerry Sutton, Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.; Eric Thomas, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Va.; Keith Thomas, Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile, Ala.; Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.; David Uth, First Baptist Church, Orlando; Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church, Tampa, Fla.; Hayes Wicker, First Baptist Church, Naples, Fla.; Don Wilton, First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C.; Larry Wynn, Hebron Baptist Church, Dacula, Ga.; Danny Wood, Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.; and Bryant Wright, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
Others: Mark Brister, president, Oklahoma Baptist University; Brent Crowe, national student conference speaker; Danny Forshee, Fort Worth, seminary professor and conference speaker; Tim Groshans, Student Leadership University, Orlando; David McKinnley, senior associate pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church; Kendall Moore, attorney and trustee for FamilyNet TV; Ike Reighard, chief people officer, HomeBanc Corp, Atlanta; Jay Strack, president/CEO, Student Leadership University, Orlando; and Claude Thomas, Equip Ministries, Atlanta.