Southern Baptist layman and financial expert Jeff Pearson will be the next chief financial officer of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC), replacing William “Bill” Townes who is retiring.
Ronnie Floyd, the president and CEO of the SBC EC, announced Pearson’s hiring Sept. 22, expressing “excitement and joy” at God’s provision.
Pearson has served nearly 15 years as chief financial officer of the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, the nation’s largest healthcare charity. His path to the SBC EC was steered by godly inspiration during a summer 2019 trip to Israel with a team from Student Leadership University, where Pearson has served on the board of directors. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Pearson pledged to finish his professional vocation however God desired, and he and his wife Mindy “felt God miraculously released him from St. Jude,” Floyd said.
“He sensed in his calling away from St. Jude, the only way he could do something to help people in a greater way than St. Jude,” Floyd said, “was to do something eternally wrapped around the Great Commission.”
Pearson brings nearly 35 years of pertinent experience to the SBC, including approximately 25 years at St. Jude. For 15 years, he was CFO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which the late Danny Thomas founded in 1957 as St. Jude’s fundraising and awareness organization. ALSAC is responsible for raising 80% of St. Jude’s operational funding.
During Pearson’s tenure, ALSAC’s revenue grew from less than $700 million to $1.7 billion in less than 10 years. He managed $3 billion in assets and supervised a staff of 37. Before moving into the role as CFO of ALSAC, Person served from 2001-06 as senior director of finance/controller for St. Jude, and from 1996-2001 as director of accounting/controller.
ALSAC CEO Rick Shadyac described Pearson as a “mentor” to ALSAC and one of ALSAC’s “best public speakers.”
Pearson grew up in Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. Bob Sorrell, who served 20 years as Bellevue executive pastor under the late Adrian Rogers, called Pearson “a man of impeccable character and integrity,” whose “doctrinal integrity is as pure as the preaching of Adrian Rogers.”
“Under the tutelage of Dr. Adrian Rogers, Jeff became a true churchman, distinguishing himself as a man wholly subservient to the Lord in all areas of life – church, family and work,” Sorrell said in recommending Pearson for the post.
Pearson, who is currently a member of Crossroads Baptist Church in Eads, Tenn., said he appreciates Southern Baptist mission outreaches in the U.S. and globally, and praised Floyd’s “clear gospel vision and the passion and plan to execute that vision.”
“I am thankful for the privilege to join a proven leader in Dr. Floyd and the great team at the SBC EC,” Pearson said. “I have been blessed to have spent most of my career serving the amazing children and families of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and now it is an incredible honor to have the opportunity to serve our Lord doing Great Commission work.”
Pearson graduated magna cum laude from the University of Memphis with a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting and is a certified public accountant. He has served on the boards of the Regional One Health Foundation and Love Worth Finding Ministries and is a past chairman of the board of Evangelical Christian School, all in Memphis.
Pearson will begin in his EC post in mid-October. Townes, who is relocating to Georgia to assist with care for his special needs grandson, assisted in selecting Pearson for the job. Townes plans to remain with the EC through Dec. 31.
Townes “and our Executive Leadership Team have been delighted, along with me, in all of our interviews with Jeff,” Floyd said. “I cannot tell you the excitement and joy we all share knowing our God has provided this amazing, highly competent, gifted man of God as a layman for this critical position.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ senior writer.)