ALPHARETTA, Ga. — President Geoff Hammond and three of his closest associates resigned their positions with the North American Mission Board Tuesday after trustees met more than seven hours in executive session at the board’s Alpharetta, Ga., headquarters.
The three staff members who also resigned were Dennis Culbreth, senior assistant to the president; Steve Reid, senior associate to the president for strategy development; and Brandon Pickett, communications team leader.
Their resignations came after 54 of the board’s 57 trustees met in an all-day closed session. Four of the 54 trustees participated by conference call.
Until the announcement of the resignations, there was no word from trustees throughout the day about either the substance of their discussions or their progress toward a resolution.
Tim Patterson, chairman of the board of trustees, issued a statement after the meeting, thanking trustees for carrying out responsibilities in “a way that has been honorable, thorough and fair,” he wrote.
“As you can imagine, these last few days have been very challenging for Dr. Hammond and his family, our trustees and the employees and missionaries of the North American Mission Board,” Patterson continued. “We will continue to be in prayer for Dr. Hammond, his family, and for the families of the others who have resigned.
“I want to thank Southern Baptists for their prayers and ask that they continue praying. We have much work left to do as we seek God’s guidance in these days,” Patterson wrote. “I still believe that God has great plans for the North American Mission Board and that NAMB will play a key part in the Southern Baptist effort to reach North America for Christ.”
Citing a need to keep details of the discussion during the meeting “confidential” because of it being a “personnel matter,” in spite of “much media speculation,” Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said that nonetheless more information would be forthcoming “very soon.”
The meeting initially was to involve only members of NAMB’s executive committee — a smaller group within the board of trustees — but members of the whole board learned about the meeting’s agenda and succeeded in calling for a meeting of the full board.
The son and grandson of missionaries, Hammond, before taking over as president, was a NAMB church planting missionary with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) convention. He also was senior associate director of the SBCV.
He was elected president by a unanimous vote of the NAMB board in March 2007 following a nine-month search to replace the previous president, Robert E. Reccord, who resigned as president in April 2006, citing “honest philosophical and methodological differences.”
All three of the associates who resigned had close working relationships with Hammond before he became NAMB president. Reid and Pickett were on staff with Hammond at SBCV. Culbreth was a pastor in Chesapeake, Va., a NAMB trustee and member of the search committee that brought Hammond to the mission board.
The board meeting comes at a time when NAMB is embarking on an ambitious partnership with state conventions and local associations to see every SBC church, by 2020, planting other churches. The evangelical initiative is called God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS).
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Additional reporting by Florida Baptist Witness.)