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Trustees approve new policies for NAMB leadership, staff

ALPHARETTA, GA (BP)–North American Mission Board trustees approved a new set of policies and guidelines at their Oct. 4 meeting designed to clarify existing procedures and implement new accountability for future leaders of the Southern Baptist entity.

The specially appointed Executive Level Policy Committee presented a report that was adopted unanimously by NAMB trustees. The committee, chaired by Larry Thomas of Heber Springs, Ark., was created following a March 24, 2006 trustee report that detailed concerns about former NAMB President Bob Reccord’s leadership. Reccord resigned April 17.

A cover memo from the committee stated, “Throughout these recommendations, you will see certain threads repeated: Full disclosure, accountability, priority of NAMB ministry over personal ministries.”

The committee report focuses on four areas of oversight: presidential accountability; issues raised by Capin Crouse, an independent auditing firm; changes to NAMB’s bylaws; and a set of miscellaneous recommendations.

In the area of presidential oversight, trustees approved a requirement that NAMB’s president spend no less than 60 percent of his time on campus at NAMB. The president can request an adjustment in this percentage from the trustee executive committee.

“Because the president is the administrator of NAMB, it necessitates time in the office,” the document states. “He is also our public relations leader and needs to spend significant time with our cooperative partners. The 60-40 guideline provides a healthy balance.”

In addition to an annual review process already in place, the new policies require the president to submit a “Quarterly Deliverables” report to trustees. The trustees’ financial services committee also has been charged with conducting an audit of executive level financial transactions once every two years.

The new policies also require that NAMB’s president obtain trustee approval before implementing a new strategy or initiative or before making a significant change in an existing initiative.

“We have consulted with the executive leadership team and NAMB human resources to formulate these policies,” the committee stated. “We have sought to avoid overreaction or letting the pendulum swing too far in the other direction.”

Areas addressed at the recommendation of Capin Crouse included conflicts of interest as related to NAMB staff engaging in outside employment, receiving honoraria, serving interim pastorates and accepting gifts. The approved document also included guidelines for determining the ownership of intellectual property.

“NAMB is not a platform to profit from personal ministries,” the committee stated. “Our concern for this perceived abuse is a primary motivation behind our management recommendations in this section.”

The policy document also includes an in-depth description of how NAMB’s request for proposal (RFP) process should work when contracts or agreements involving more than $100,000 or for periods greater than a year are being considered. This section of the document is meant to “prevent a repeat of past controversies over outsourcing,” the committee stated. Reccord was criticized by trustees for outsourcing NAMB’s media operations to an outside firm without following adequate RFP procedures.

A detailed “open door” or whistleblower policy also was approved, included to ensure protections for employees who feel their jobs may be at risk if they speak out against or question leadership practices or policies.

NAMB bylaws dealing with presidential authority and the appointment of committees also were amended to better reflect the new policies approved by the trustees.

In a section of the policy document titled, “Trustee Recommendations Related to Committees,” the policy committee made several recommendations for future action related to building strong relations with state conventions, improving NAMB trustee orientation and employee compensation.

    About the Author

  • Mike Ebert