Following Monday morning prayer time, Mike delivers the weekend mail. Ruth Ann removes checks from their envelopes, enters contributions into the general ledger, and prepares the daily deposit. Next door, Martha reviews check requisition reports, preparing the accounts payable for the week. Lynn continues negotiations for hotel rooms in next year's annual meeting host city, while Don visits on-site with the local arrangements committee and the manager of the convention center. While there, he does a walk-through of the convention center's security features.
One floor down, Janice responds to a request from a Kansas pastor, sending him material that explains how his existing church can cooperate with the Convention through "three levels of cooperation"—associational, state convention, and SBC. Andy puts the finishing touches on the next issue of SBC LIFE. Michael, Erin, and Diana, in separate offices, are interviewing a pastor, a state convention employee, and a Baptist paper editor for three news stories that will appear in Baptist Press (BP) later that afternoon.
Leanne is proofing the SBC Book of Reports, a book she compiles each spring in preparation for the SBC annual meeting, Across the hall, June receives an email update from the SBC Committee on Order of Business chair, allowing her to release the annual meeting program through BP, SBC LIFE, and SBC.net. And, in the conference room, Vella sets out coffee and water for a meeting of African American pastors.
These are but a few of the far-reaching, routine, but important duties performed by the SBC Executive Committee staff under the EC's Ministry Assignment 1. As a facilitating ministry of the Convention, the work of the EC may not have the exciting ring of overseas missions or inner-city ministry; but its work is an essential component of "keeping the wheels on the car" of our cooperative work as Southern Baptists.
What the Executive Committee Is
Many Southern Baptists are probably unaware of the work of the EC and its staff. If they are, they may think of it as a sprawling denominational organization. In reality, the EC is a standing committee of the Convention and an entity of the Convention that employs a small staff to assist it in its day-to-day duties.
As one of only two SBC standing committees (the other is the Committee on Order of Business), the EC is comprised of eighty-three pastors and laypersons from cooperating Southern Baptist churches scattered across the United States. EC members are nominated by the SBC Committee on Nominations and elected by the SBC in its annual meeting. The Committee meets three times a year to carry out fourteen specific functions outlined in SBC Bylaw 18 and six ministry assignments listed in the SBC Organization Manual. Members are elected to a four-year term with the possibility of serving a second term.
The EC is also "the fiduciary, the fiscal, and the executive entity of the Convention." As an entity, the EC functions as a board of directors, employing thirty individuals to carry out the day-to-day duties that pertain to the EC's assignments. The EC staff acts on behalf of the EC to assist Convention entities and cooperating churches, state conventions, and associations in our cooperative efforts to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
What the Executive Committee Does
The Executive Committee is charged with six ministry assignments that summarize its Bylaw 18 responsibilities.
Ministry Assignment 1—Assist churches through conducting and administering the work of the Convention not otherwise assigned—charges the EC to coordinate a myriad of responsibilities on behalf of the SBC each year. The staff serves the EC in fulfilling these day-to-day duties.
The EC staff is administered by the president through four offices— convention advancement, convention communications and relations, convention finance, and convention policy. In the office of convention finance, Bill supervises the weekly distribution of all Cooperative Program and designated gifts to the Convention's entities according to the Convention-adopted Cooperative Program allocation budget. His office also plans and coordinates all physical aspects of each Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, the largest annual deliberative body that meets in the United States. Some other EC duties include:
• Among other duties, Augie, the EC's executive vice president, assists the Convention's president and Committee on Order of Business in coordinating the parliamentary business components of each SBC annual meeting. He also works with the Convention's attorneys to monitor all legal matters which may impinge upon the rights of the Convention to conduct its affairs and to address all legal matters related to the EC and the SBC throughout the course of the year.
• Phil manages the operations, maintenance, and security of the SBC Building in Nashville. The building houses the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Executive Committee, Seminary Extension, Southern Baptist Foundation, and Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. Convention committees and other Convention-related groups, as well as Mosaic, a Southern Baptist congregation serving the downtown Nashville community, also meet here.
• Among other duties, Becky serves as staff liaison to the SBC Committee on Nominations, while Linda assists the SBC Resolutions Committee, providing resources for their three-day meeting. EC staff also assist the SBC Committee on Committees, Committee on Order of Business, Credentials Committee, and the elected officers of the Convention.
• Chris manages the SBC.net family of Web pages, produced, overseen, managed, and safeguarded by the EC. Wayne, who oversees maintenance of hardware and software applications, keeps the EC staff up and running and connected with one another and the world.
Ministry Assignments 2 and 3 codify that the EC is to provide "a convention relations service and a convention news service to publicize and interpret the overall Southern Baptist ministry" (SBC Bylaw 18.E.) in an effort to keep more than 45,000 autonomous churches, 1,175 autonomous Baptist associations, forty-two autonomous state Baptist conventions, and almost thirty autonomous ethnic fellowships connected.
Baptist Press and SBC LIFE are the two dominant means by which news and information is routinely disseminated to Southern Baptist pastors, entity and denominational leaders, state paper editors, churches, and individual subscribers. BP editor Art also oversees the SBC press room at the SBC annual meeting. With Laura's assistance, he coordinates bringing together more than sixty news writers, photographers, and support personnel to provide comprehensive coverage of the SBC annual meeting and all the ancillary meetings taking place during that same week. Sing seeks to communicate the overall Southern Baptist ministry through SBC LIFE and by producing ministry brochures, responding to media inquiries, and overseeing responses to thousands of general email inquiries that come to the EC each year.
Ministry Assignment 4—Assist churches, denominational agencies, and state conventions through estate planning consultation and investment management for funds designated for support of Southern Baptist causes—refers to the work of the Southern Baptist Foundation. A subsidiary of the EC, the Foundation collaborates with the many state convention foundations to promote and provide opportunities to Southern Baptists and other individuals to leave a portion of their estates to support Southern Baptist ministry causes.
Ministry Assignments 5 and 6—Assist churches through the promotion of cooperative giving and in stewardship education—directs the EC to collaborate with state conventions and Southern Baptist Convention entities regarding Cooperative Program advancement. Thomas and Ashley, assisted by Terry, meet regularly with pastors, state convention executives and stewardship directors, and SBC entity leaders to lead out in promotion of a unified Cooperative Program strategy. The CP remains the vital lifeline that supports Southern Baptist missions and ministries across the nation and around the world.
The relationship between the EC and churches, state Baptist conventions, local associations, and ethnic fellowships is one of voluntary cooperation. These groups, however, have covenanted to work together to promote a noble purpose—"eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the Gospel" (SBC Charter, 1845).
The Southern Baptist Convention meets in annual session two days a year. During the remainder of the year, the EC is charged to minister to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention "by acting for the Convention ad interim in all matters not otherwise provided for in a manner that encourages the cooperation and confidence of the churches, associations, and state conventions and facilitates maximum support for worldwide missions and ministries" (EC Mission Statement, SBC Organization Manual).
The EC staff, led by Frank S. Page, president and CEO (chief encouraging officer, as he often says), serve as the visible representatives and spokespersons for the Executive Committee and the Southern Baptist Convention to the thousands of individuals who look to the EC for assistance on any number of issues each year.
The staff starts each work week with concentrated, focused prayer for the Convention, its work, and the personal prayer and praise reports of the staff members. On this particular Monday, Sandy, the EC's receptionist, joyfully announced that a single mom was baptized the day before, one week after Sandy had led her to faith in Christ through her church's clothing and food ministry. Frank told about a woman he had met on an airplane who responded, "Absolutely!" to his question, "If you were to die tonight do you know for certain that you would go to heaven?"
Betty Sue, who assists the president in his work, asked prayer for a member of her family. Kim gave a praise report about the birth of her niece. Others chimed in with a variety of prayer requests, ranging from prayers for friends facing cancer to requests for neighbors who have not yet received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. When prayer time ended, T.A. began checking levels and temperature on the twenty-six-year old chiller and Mike began his round of delivering the weekend mail . . .