Eddie Eaton, pastor of Fuquay-Varina Baptist Church, believes his “well-rounded” experience as a victim’s advocate, deputy sheriff and pastor gives him a “unique perspective” on the role of recording secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
That is one of the reasons he agreed to be nominated for the position at this year’s SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala., he told the Biblical Recorder in a phone interview.
Mike Orr, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chipley, Fla., announced May 16 that he will make the nomination during the June 11-12 gathering, according to Baptist Press.
“I’ve seen all different sides of helping victims, dealing with the perpetrators and then pastoral ministry along with that,” Eaton said, referring to current efforts in the SBC to respond to sex abuse in churches.
An investigation by two Texas newspapers published in February outlined hundreds of cases of sex abuse in Southern Baptist churches over the past 20 years. SBC President J.D. Greear and other Southern Baptist leaders have called for a comprehensive response to the problem.
“I began my career in law enforcement as a victim’s advocate,” Eaton said. “I was dealing with sexual abuse and domestic violence, helping victims of those crimes not only deal with the aftermath … but also walking with them through the [recovery] process.”
Eaton also expressed concerns about the lack of term limits on the office of recording secretary. SBC messengers vote annually to decide who will fill the position, but the number of years an individual may serve in the role is indefinite.
The recording secretary is responsible for keeping records of all convention meetings and serves as a voting member of the SBC executive committee, which conducts business on behalf of the convention throughout the year. Other similar offices, such as the SBC president and executive committee members, are limited in the number of terms they may serve.
While emphasizing that he supported the current recording secretary, John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, Eaton said he believes Yeats’ tenure of more than two decades in the position is too long. Missouri church planter Jon Nelson announced May 3 that he will re-nominate Yeats at this year’s SBC annual meeting.
“For all I know, he’s done a great job,” Eaton said. “I have voted for him in the past. … I just do not believe in my heart that somebody should be in that position for that long.”
Eaton and Yeats are the only two candidates to be announced for recording secretary to date.