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Trustees receive updates on EC personnel matters

Executive Committee Chairman Philip Robertson answers a question during a press conference following the EC meeting in Nashville on Sept. 19. Photo by Brandon Porter.

NASHVILLE (BP) — During a three-hour executive session Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 19), SBC Executive Committee members learned that no further legal action would take place regarding the departure of former interim president and CEO Willie McLaurin. In addition, Kentucky pastor Dan Summerlin voluntarily removed his name from consideration for the transitional role.

In a press conference following the meeting, EC Chairman Philip Robertson, who learned of Summerlin’s decision Monday evening, presented a comment from Summerlin.

“Upon further reflection, it has become evident that what is best for the Convention and for my family is to withdraw my name from consideration at this time,” the statement read. “This job would require far more of my attention than I’m able to give it right now as my wife undergoes treatment for breast cancer, and I need to care well for her.”

As a result, the EC voted to extend Jonathan Howe in the role of interim president and CEO, Robertson said. Brandon Porter will continue serving as associate vice president of convention news and assume the interim role of VP of communications, the role vacated by Howe.

The investigation into McLaurin made clear that the former interim president and CEO “engaged in both academic and professional fraud during his tenure with the Executive Committee,” Robertson told trustees, however, “no evidence was found of financial wrongdoing or direct financial harm to the Executive Committee.

“While the Executive Committee acknowledges the collateral, reputational harm and indirect financial impact resulting from McLaurin’s misrepresentations, the Executive Committee does not plan to proceed with taking any legal action against McLaurin at this time,” he said.

A confidential separation agreement between McLaurin and the Executive Committee was approved by the EC, he shared. The agreement will now go to McLaurin for approval. In the press conference, Robertson repeated that he was unable to give any further details on the investigation in McLaurin’s statements, including those surrounding his past military career.

The search for a transitional interim will begin immediately, Robertson said.

“It will take a unique person. While oftentimes you hear the word ‘interim,’ you think ‘part-time.’ This job is not that,” he said. “Even as a transitional interim, it requires a full-time job, and that limits your pool of potential candidates because you have to be willing to leave an existing job … to take a full-time job potentially for only five months.”

The person who eventually does take the position, Robertson added, will not be considered a candidate to be the permanent president and CEO.

“The officers and presidential search team have agreed [to that],” he said.