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SBC Credentials Committee elects chair, vice chair

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention Credentials Committee has selected Jonathan Sams and Meagan Stedman to become its chair and vice chair, respectively. Both of the new officers, elected at the committee’s Aug. 21 meeting, are serving their second year on the committee.

Jonathan Sams

Sams, a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a cyber security consultant and also serves as director of equipping and community groups for Image Church in Marietta, Ga. He is the first Asian American to chair one of the SBC’s standing committees.

Stedman, a Ph.D. student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is the associate director of collegiate ministries for BCM Christian Community and a member of First Baptist Westwego, La., pastored by SBC First Vice President Jay Adkins.

“It is an honor to serve on the Credentials Committee. I am humbled and honored to be selected as the Chair of this committee,” Sams said in a statement released Aug. 22. “I am encouraged by all the members of this committee that I have had the privilege of working with on behalf of Southern Baptists. Southern Baptists can rest assured that their Credentials Committee loves Jesus and is committed to honoring Him. I look forward to continuing the work of this committee and ask that all Southern Baptists continue to pray for the Credentials Committee.”

Meagan Stedman

The Credentials Committee is tasked with considering “questions that arise concerning whether a church is in ‘friendly cooperation’ with the Convention as described in the SBC Constitution, Article III.”

Through a change in the SBC’s bylaws, messengers to the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham changed the function of the Credentials Committee, giving it the responsibility to form an opinion about a church’s cooperation when questions arise.

It is not an easy assignment, but Stedman echoed Sams’ optimism in her own statement Aug. 22.

“It has been a great privilege to serve on the Credentials Committee for the past year, and it is a great honor to have the opportunity to continue to serve Southern Baptists as vice chair of the Credentials Committee,” she said. “I am daily praying that I steward this responsibility well, and welcome the prayers of Southern Baptists as the Credentials Committee continues to strive to fulfill the task that has been given to us by the Convention. It is an honor to serve alongside the other members of this committee, both past and present, that have worked so diligently and faithfully. Our committee has a difficult task, but I am thankful that we have a team that truly desires that Christ be glorified through our work.”

The term of service for Linda Cooper, the committee’s chair for the past two years, expired in June. Messengers to the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans, by adopting the SBC Committee on Nominations’ report, elected three new members to the committee. Members serve three years, in accordance with SBC Bylaw 8C.

The bylaw also dictates the Credentials Committee should be composed of nine members – three nominated by the SBC Executive Committee, four by the SBC Committee on Nominations and two ex officio members.

Other current members are:

  • Term expiring in 2024 – Jim Averett, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Terms expiring in 2025 – Carolyn Fountain, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Monroe, La.; Barry Raley, New Friendship Baptist Church, Auburn, Ky.
  • Terms expiring in 2026 – Chris Osborne, Cross Church, Fort Worth, Texas; Kevin James, New Creation Bible Church, Tracy, Calif.
  • By virtue of office – Don Currence, SBC registration secretary, First Baptist Church of Ozark, Mo.; Philip Robertson, SBC Executive Committee chair, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Pineville, La.

Article III of the SBC Constitution says a church is in friendly cooperation with the Convention if it has “a faith and practice that closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith [the Baptist Faith and Message 2000].” It also delineates several reasons a church may be deemed not to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, including affirmation or approval of homosexuality, racial or ethnic discrimination and acting in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse.