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Robertson, Dockery emphasize importance of unity during EC officers press conference

"... I genuinely believe that the men and women who serve with me on the Executive Committee are good and godly people," said newly elected SBC Executive Committee Chairman Philip Robertson. "Therefore, we have an incredibly strong common bond. And our ultimate objectives are the same." Photo by Sonya Singh

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Newly elected SBC Executive Committee Chairman Philip Robertson and Vice Chairman Anthony (Tony) Dockery spoke about their desire to both serve and unify the committee moving forward.

“I am extremely humbled by the confidence that my fellow trustees have placed in me and Dr. Dockery,” Robertson said. “If I became the chair, I want to serve diligently. If I’m not the chair, I want to serve equally as diligently. I’m thankful and I’m humbled.”

Dockery echoed the sentiments of Robertson saying he is “humbled and honored.”

Newly elected SBC EC Vice Chairman Anthony Dockery speaks with reporters Monday June 12 in New Orleans. Photo by Sonya Singh

Robertson and Dockery were elected during the Monday morning Executive Committee plenary session June 12 in New Orleans. Robertson has served on the EC since 2018 and has seen a lot of changes.

“I’ve been on for five years, which makes me a little bit of an anomaly because there’s been so much turnover on the EC,” Robertson said. “I think things are better, we went through some really tough times. I think where we are today is much more settled, and I would even use the word stable. I know financially there are concerns. Those are legitimate concerns, but I think the EC is much better.

“My predecessor Dr. Wellman … he said that his desire was to make the EC boring again. I understand what he means, but I also feel like in addition to that, we need to seek to make the EC reliable again. We have been entrusted by the Convention and the messengers to serve an important role. I think our Convention is looking for an Executive Committee that is reliable and ready to do what it’s commissioned to do.”

In Robertson’s time as a trustee, the EC has had its share of challenges, including an extended debate about waiving attorney-client privilege for a third-party investigation into allegations of mishandling of sexual abuse claims by the EC, and a recent presidential search committee’s recommendation of EC Chairman Jared Wellman, a recommendation that was declined by EC members. 

Robertson acknowledged these challenges but maintained his belief in the unity of the committee going forward.  

“I think it would be naïve to not acknowledge those divisions, we all know they’re there,” Robertson said.

“I don’t think there is much encampment on the EC, which is good. My heart is to be a bridge builder. I have convictions obviously, but I genuinely believe that the men and women who serve with me on the executive committee are good and Godly people. Therefore, we have an incredibly strong common bond. And our ultimate objectives are the same.

When asked if he thought the SBC had undergone a leftward drift theologically, Robertson acknowledged such a perception but added that others might say there had been a rightward shift.

“I think if you wanted to look hard enough you could probably find some examples of both of those,” he said. “I agree with Dr. Dockery, he and I have a heart to move forward. There is a reason why the windshield of your car is 200-plus times larger than the rearview mirror. We do occasionally need to be able look behind us, but primarily we need to look ahead of us. I think that’s our hearts, I think that’s the hearts of most of our colleagues on the trustees.”

Dockery, who has served with the EC since 2022, shared Robertson’s optimism about the state of the EC.

“This is divinely appointed,” Dockery said. “Dr. Robertson has been here five years and I’m one of those that’s newer to the board. I’ve spoken with those that are a little more tenured and those that have just come on. There is a lot of camaraderie rallying around the main issues, which is to push the Gospel forward.”