The team tasked with searching for a new president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) is asking for prayer. The group also has launched a 21-day prayer initiative and created a day-by-day guide to encourage specific prayers for each day the rest of the month.
“As Christians we understand that prayer is essential in our walk with Christ, and as a committee we felt it was essential to start our process with a season of prayer,” said search team Chairman Adron Robinson. “In John 15:5 Jesus says without Him we can do nothing, so to begin this assignment without seeking God’s direction would be a huge mistake.”
In addition to Robinson, the seven-member search team, appointed by the EC at its Feb. 22 meeting, includes Mollie Duddleston (Springdale, Ark.), Mike Keahbone (Lawton, Okla.), Jeremy Morton (Woodstock, Ga.), Philip Robertson (Pineville, La.) and David Sons (Lexington, S.C.). Current EC Chairman Rolland Slade will serve in an ex officio capacity until June, when he will be replaced by a newly elected EC chair.
The prayer guide is broken into three sections: personnel, priorities and president. Keahbone stressed the importance of prayer to the team’s mission.
“I was looking through the timelines of the previous hiring processes and did not see a specific and strategic plan to call our convention to pray,” he said. “I brought it up in our first meeting and the entire team was excited to let prayer be the cornerstone of our search process. God knows the shepherd He is calling to lead us. Prayer tunes our hearts to His.”
Morton agreed that the team was united in the idea.
“We all agreed an intentional season of prayer was essential,” he said “We do not assume we can get this search ‘correct’ without God’s gracious touch. In fact, we enter this process humbly and with a sober sense of desperation. Without God’s grace, we know we won’t get it right.
“Prayer isn’t something extra we are doing. It’s the driving force of the entire process. I actually believe the more we pray, the simpler things will be.”
The group is asking for people to people to pray for the EC trustees, staff, interim President/CEO Willie McLaurin, Vice President for Communication Jonathan Howe, the Sexual Abuse Task Force and SBC President Ed Litton.
“Every believer in our convention is impacted by this hire; therefore, all of us must join together in prayer,” Keahbone said.
“My prayer is that God would unify us as a convention. There is no better unifying agent than God’s people seeking their Father’s heart.”
The group is asking Southern Baptists for help in seeking God’s provision of unity, wisdom, patience, discernment, integrity, faithfulness and accountability for the team.
“We hope that God would sanctify our hearts as a committee and as a convention,” Robinson said. “There are many things trying to divide us as a convention, but seeking God will sanctify and unify us. We want to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and work together to fulfill God’s will.
“The entire Southern Baptist Convention should join in this prayer initiative, and we hope our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world will also join this effort.”
While the team has not begun to receive applications for the position, they are asking Southern Baptists to pray the candidate is:
- Prepared to the lead the EC
- A strong, relational and unifying leader
- Someone with Christlike character
- A leader with compassion for the hurting and lost
- Deeply rooted in biblical conviction
- A leader committed to the Cooperative Program, the Baptist Faith and Message, SBC entities, the Great Commission and the Great Commandment
“We hope that prayer will help us walk together in unity and clarity,” Morton said. “We hope our season of prayer will encourage all Southern Baptists to join us and participate.
“We are excited and believe by faith that God has a bright future for our search process, that He has the right leader on the horizon for Southern Baptists, and that our convention will move forward and make more disciples for Jesus until He comes again. I’m praying Luke 11:13 that the Holy Spirit will fill us and help us.”
While the team welcomes prayers at any time, they are specifically asking people to join in prayer from March 11-31.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Porter serves as associate vice president for convention news at the SBC Executive Committee.)