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Yeats to transition out as Missouri Baptist exec

Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director John Yeats speaks to MBC Executive Board members, March 7. During their meeting, Yeats requested that the board form a transition team to search for his successor. Photo by Neil Sneed/MBC

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) – After 12 years of service, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director John Yeats asked the MBC executive board March 6 to form a transition team to search for his successor.

“In the context of the goodness of the Lord and His blessing on us, I am announcing tonight a recommendation that we begin a time of leadership transition,” Yeats told executive board members, after describing how God continues to move through Missouri Baptists.

“I am in my 12th year, and the MBC seems to be on track to make even greater progress into the near future. After much prayer Sharon and I are becoming increasingly confident that the executive board needs to begin a search for a new executive director.

“I am not retiring,” Yeats added. He told the executive board that he sees his mission as serving the executive board, as well as coaching the search team, during this transitional period. “With much prayer, we will not break stride in our vision of transforming lives and communities with the Gospel.”

MBC President Chris Williams, who serves as pastor of Fellowship Church, Greenwood, told The Pathway, “It’s an historic announcement for our convention. It’s a celebration of a man that God has used to bring not only flourishing and unity, but blessing to our state convention. We simply now look to the Lord to help us find an adequate and suitable replacement.

“We would covet the prayers of Missouri Baptists for wisdom and discernment,” he added, that God would “lead us unequivocally to the right man for the post.”

Following Yeats’ announcement, the MBC’s executive board formed a committee to lead the transition process and search for a new executive director. Members of the committee include Williams, as well as executive board members Gina Jordan, Aaron Mick, Brian Jump, Wil Hoffmann, and – as an alternate – Bradford Laubinger. At large members include Lane Harrison, Michael Byrd, Gary Mathes, Wesley Vance and – as an alternate – Randy Shipman. Additionally, Neil Franks, president of the Missouri Baptist Foundation, will serve as a non-voting member of the transition committee.

The board also formed a “celebration committee” to make plans for commemorating Yeats’ service to Missouri Baptists and for welcoming the new executive director to the state. Members of the committee include John Edy, Juli Perstrope, Shirley Cross, Josh Hall and Kat Moyer. Alternates include Denise Descombs and Donna Qualls. MBC staff members Paula Earls and Rob Phillips will serve the committee as primary contacts for providing MBC staff support.

Serving alongside his wife, Sharon, Yeats began ministry among Missouri Baptists after being elected to his MBC post on Oct. 13, 2011. Throughout his tenure, he has led Missouri Baptists in:

  • successfully ending nearly two decades of litigation and welcoming home Missouri Baptist entities, including The Baptist Home (now Baptist Homes & Healthcare Ministries), Missouri Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Foundation;
  • paying off the convention’s debt, while at the same time enhancing its property through renovation;
  • updating the governing documents of the MBC and its entities and commissions, as well as creating greater synergy between the MBC and its entities and commissions;
  • reorienting the ministry of the MBC’s missionary staff alongside its historic vision of “transforming lives and communities with the Gospel,” as well as its mission of “cooperating with Missouri Baptists to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders”;
  • establishing mission partnerships across the nation and around the globe: along the I-29 Corridor from Kansas City to Winnipeg, Manitoba; in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana; as well as in Mexico, Italy and (alongside Send Relief) in Turkey/Central Asia;
  • moving the MBC’s newspaper, The Pathway, from a paid circulation to an open circulation format, now being fully funded through the Cooperative Program;
  • and entering into a new partnership with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). “Send Network Missouri” combines the church-multiplying strengths of NAMB and MBC church planters to expand community discovery and strategy development within Missouri Baptist churches and associations.

In 2021, the MBC published a booklet – A Defining Decade: Missouri Baptists, 2011-2021 – highlighting the first decade of Yeats’ service in Missouri. It can be accessed here.

Before coming to Missouri, Yeats served as director of communications and public policy for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Earlier, he served as editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. He also served the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as the director of communications and editor of the Indiana Baptist. Prior to his ministry with state conventions, he served 20 years as pastor of churches in Texas and Kansas.

He also served as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Recording Secretary for 25 years. His tenure in this post was the third-longest in Southern Baptist history.