SBC LIFE - Special Issue 2017 (Vol. 25, No. 5)

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Published by the SBC Executive Committee


Encouraging Cooperation . . . for a Great Commission Advance!

Third SBC Executive Committee Executive Secretary Porter Routh looks on as twenty-fourth EC Chairman James Pleitz addresses committee members during a 1969 Executive Committee meeting at the SBC Building on James Robertson Parkway in Nashville.

During its one hundredth year, fiftieth SBC Executive Committee Chairman Stephen Rummage looks on (right on platform) as sixth EC President and CEO Frank S. Page addresses the Executive Committee during its February 2017 meeting in Nashville.

photo courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

photo by morris abernathy

Celebrating a Century by Frank S. Page


n the back cover of his signature work, The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention 1917–1984, Albert McClellan says the following: “To many observers, Southern Baptists are a paradox—a people of seemingly contradictory qualities. One has described them as a rope of sand with the strength of steel. Others have compared them to a bumblebee, which in theory should not be able to fly, but which does so quite well. “Southern Baptists strongly affirm both the autonomy of the local church under Christ and the call to cooperate with other local churches in doing the work of Christ on earth.” McClellan was correct. Everything we do as Southern Baptists is about affirming and supporting the work of the local church. To that end, Baptists do their work in an amazing way that is characterized by both independence and interdependence. As I travel across the land, I see both of these powerful descriptors at work. I also recognize that Baptists work within different affinity organizations. Baptist associations, state conventions, national entities, and numerous fellowships work autonomously, as well as cooperatively, making working together a joy and a challenge at the same time. The Executive Committee was established in 1917 to serve as a vital link in this great fellowship of Southern Baptists. Working together at these various levels, we seek to

encourage the work of local churches as they do the work of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. In 2010, I was given the incredible privilege of helping lead the work of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. As a part of this ministry to which God called me, I’ve attempted to change the conversation to encourage pastors and church leaders to reengage in this great task of worldwide evangelization, to rebuild trust and encourage dialogue among people groups, and also to involve and encourage people of every ethnic group within our nation to be a part of God’s work within our Convention. My goal has been to build relationships at all the levels described above so that together we might work better in trust and unity. Over the past years, there have been some incredible results. People have deepened their involvement of Cooperative Program giving and are working to make sure that it is organized correctly according to the needs of a twentyfirst century world and church. We have seen challenging days on the mission field, but we are excited that our missionary count is headed back up with still the largest permanent mission force of any faith group. The enrollment numbers of seminaries are some of the largest in human history. There have been changes in our annual meeting demographic as the average age of participants has gotten younger. There have even been changes in the annual meeting event itself

Committee on Transfer of Ridgecrest to the Baptist Sunday School Board, 1938. Pictured are Executive Committee leaders, BSSB leaders, the SBC president, and other SBC entity leaders. This photograph is the earliest known image of the EC transacting work on behalf of the Convention. photo courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

as we have been able to bring costs down while at the same time remaining relevant. We live in an anti-institutional and an antidenominational age and, therefore, to do a work that many people would call “denominational work” is indeed a huge task. However, I’ve been privileged to work with a great staff and partner with great leaders at the national, state, associational, and local level. There is a deep desire to reengage churches as never before in evangelistic strategies and relevant ministries. Many people ask me about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention and I often reply that I am cautiously optimistic about the days

ahead. There are some great things happening and many factors that are influencing us now and in the future. I believe that God is not done with Southern Baptists! If we stay focused on His Word and His way, He will continue to favor us with an increased number of churches, and—I pray in the days ahead—an increased number in baptisms, worship, and discipleship as well. May God bless the Southern Baptist Convention and the Executive Committee as Southern Baptists work together with a common purpose. Frank S. Page is president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee.

As a part of this ministry to which God called me, I’ve attempted to change the conversation to encourage pastors and church leaders to reengage in this great task of worldwide evangelization, to rebuild trust and encourage dialogue among people groups, and also to involve and encourage people of every ethnic group within our nation to be a part of God’s work within our Convention. Frank S. Page





EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Manson H. Wolfe, a businessman and active churchman, made the motion and chaired the committee that proposed creation of the SBC Executive Committee. He served as the EC’s first chairman (1917–1919), serving on the Committee until 1922. photo from the bankers magazine, volume 84 (1912); public domain


n May 17, 1917, the second day of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, upon recommendation of the Committee on Consolidation of the Boards, the SBC Executive Committee was created.

Casting a Vision

The previous year, 1916, Manson Horatio Wolfe had offered the following resolution: Resolved, That Articles V to X of the Constitution of this Convention be amended and revised so as to create one strong Executive Board which shall direct all of the work and enterprises fostered and promoted by this Convention. The motion was referred to a Consolidation Committee and charged to prepare a report for the following year’s annual meeting. Wolfe served as chairman of the committee. In the following months, the committee received input from Baptists across the South, many of whom expressed serious concerns about so much power being centralized into one body. In January 1917, the committee released a majority report and a minority report to the denominational press (state Baptist papers). Rather than recommending a centralized executive board, the committee presented the following recommendation to the Convention: First: In view of the diversity of opinions concerning the best method of conducting our work, and the distressing conditions in our country, resulting from the world-war, we recommend that the Boards of the Convention remain separate as at present.

SBCLIFE SBC LIFE is published by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention 901 Commerce Street Nashville, Tennessee 37203 615-244-2355 E-mail: Frank S. Page

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Communications Specialist SBC LIFE is published three times per year: Pre-Convention, Special Convention Issue, and Winter. It is distributed to pastors, ministers of education, ministers of music, full-time denominational workers, chaplains, missionaries, and vocational evangelists of the Southern Baptist Convention. Workers retiring from any of these groups may continue to receive the magazine upon request. Subscriptions are free of charge. Bulk subscriptions are available at reduced prices. For SBC LIFE subscriptions, call 866-722-5433 (toll-free). * All Scripture is from the Christian Standard Bible unless noted otherwise. * Any article without attribution is by SBC LIFE staff.

SBC LIFE (ISSN 1081-8189) Volume 25, Number 5 ©2017 Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Encouraging Cooperation . . . for a Great Commission Advance!

Second: Recognizing, however, that there is a strong sentiment in favor of greater unity in the general direction of the Convention’s affairs, and believing that some improvement in the methods of conducting the work would be attained by the creation of a standing committee of the Convention to act for the body between its sessions in ways hereinafter set forth, we recommend that an executive committee of seven, representing the different parts of the territory of the Convention, be elected annually by the Convention as are its standing committees. A messenger immediately offered a substitute motion. In response, the committee agreed to support the formation of a committee to look into legal issues associated with the trustee relationships of the various boards and between the boards and the Convention. With this compromise in place, the SBC Executive Committee was created—“without discussion”—on May 17, 1917. The following day, the first Bylaw governing the work of the EC was unanimously adopted. Newly created SBC Bylaw 6 assigned the Executive Committee five duties, limiting its work to those duties, “except as other things may be committed to it by the Convention itself.” The lead assignment in that list has not changed for one hundred years—To act for the Convention during the interim of its meetings on matters not otherwise provided for in its plans of work. The Executive Committee met several times during the six-day annual meeting. It met again the following May just prior to the SBC annual meeting, a practice it continues to the present.

Finding a Cause

The first record of Wolfe’s involvement in Southern Baptist life dates to 1903. A messenger from his church in Wolfe City, Texas (named for his father’s grist mill), he stood up following the Home Mission Board report and pledged $500 for Home Missions. The Tennessee Baptist and Reflector reported at the time that Wolfe said “laymen ought to be induced to come to the Convention every year and get stirred up so that their gifts would be larger.” The following year, Wolfe served as part of a three-member committee to review the report of the Home Mission Board. The committee opened its report with these stirring words: “Your Committee believes that Home Mission occupies a position of peculiar and transcendent importance in our missionary work.” Born in Wolfe City, Wolfe was converted to faith and became a committed churchman. At age eighteen, he already showed great business acumen and began pursuing various mercantile interests. By his mid-thirties, his business interests had expanded into the cotton, banking, and real estate business. In 1905, he relocated his commercial activities to Dallas. He and his family joined First Baptist Church where he later served many years as chairman of the deacons during the pastorate of George W. Truett.

Business and Beneficence

Following Sunday worship services at nearby churches on the fourth day of the 1908 SBC annual meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON CONSOLIDATION OF THE BOARDS The committee appointed at the last Convention to consider and report on a resolution to revise Articles 5 to 10 of the Constitution so as to create one strong executive board which should direct all the work and enterprises fostered and promoted by this Convention, beg leave to report that, obeying the instructions of the Convention, a majority and minority of the committee put forth, through the denominational press, last January tentative statements making certain suggestions covering the matter submitted to the committee. Having further considered the whole question, the committee respectfully submits as their completed report the following recommendations: First: In view of the diversity of opinions concerning the best method of conducting our work, and the distressing conditions in our country, resulting from the world-war, we recommend that the Boards of the Convention remain separate as at present. Second: Recognizing, however, that there is a strong sentiment in favor of greater unity in the general direction of the Convention’s affairs, and believing that some improvement in the methods of conducting the work would be attained by the creation of a standing committee of the Convention to act for the body between its sessions in ways hereinafter set forth, we recommend that an Executive Committee of seven, representing the different parts of the territory of the Convention, be elected annually by the Convention as are its standing committees. No officer or member of any of the Boards of the Convention shall be eligible to membership on the executive committee. The duties of the committee shall be to have oversight of the arrangements for the meetings of the Convention with power to change both the time and place of meeting in case an emergency arises making such change necessary; that this committee shall act for the Convention ad interim on such matters as may arise pertaining to the general business of the Convention and not otherwise provided for in its plans of work; that this committee shall also be empowered to act in an advisory way on all questions submitted to it on matters arising between the Boards of this Convention, but only on request of one or more of the Boards concerned; that this committee shall have no further duties except as other things may be specifically committed to it by the Convention itself at its annual meeting; that the committee shall hold meetings at such time and places as it may select and its necessary expenses shall be a charge equally divided among the three Boards of this Convention. M. H. WOLFE JOSHUA LEVERING E. C. DARGAN W. M. VINES A. J. BARTON


Committee on Devotional Exercises provided a number of break-out sessions. One session was for those with an interest in a laymen’s movement. Wolfe, one of the keynote speakers, addressed the assembly and was instrumental in helping create what became the SBC’s Laymen’s Missionary Movement, serving on its executive committee and providing guidance for a burgeoning set of ministries. At the following year’s SBC annual meeting (1909), Wolfe read the Committee on Systematic Beneficence report. Its opening statement seems to capture Wolfe’s heart: “That we urge the application of business principles in the matter of Christian beneficence.” A review of twenty-five years of SBC Annuals reveals Wolfe as a layman committed to that guiding principle, serving the Lord and his Convention by presenting his business skills as a living sacrifice on the altar of service. His name appears again and again, serving on committees designed to strengthen organizational and administrative effectiveness and accountability for the Convention’s ministries. Wolfe served two terms as one of the Convention’s vice presidents (1913 and 1914). In 1915, he nominated Lansing Burrows for SBC president. The following year, Wolfe was nominated for SBC president, placing second to


Burrows. Later that year, he was elected president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In 1918, after hearing two National Baptist representatives address the SBC about the need for a seminary for African American pastors, Wolfe and fellow Texan R. E. Burt addressed the Convention, pledging $5,000 each to the proposed seminary.

Staying the Course

Undaunted when his hope for “one strong executive board” was not embraced, Wolfe led his study committee to recommend the standing committee model. He was selected to serve two successive years as the Executive Committee’s first chairman and continued to serve as a committee member until 1922. His pastor later served as the first chairman of the restructured, incorporated Executive Committee (1927). Wolfe was also instrumental in creating the Committee on the Legal Status of the Boards of the Convention, serving on that committee from 1917 through 1927. He served as a member of numerous other committees and was on the Board of Ministerial Relief and Annuities in 1918. Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations for the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.






ustin Crouch’s election as the first executive secretary-treasurer of the Executive Committee grew from deep roots in Convention participation and leadership. Born in Carrollton, Missouri, Crouch migrated to Texas where he was ordained as a pastor in McKinney, Texas, in 1893 and received his undergraduate degree at Baylor University five years later. He attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary before earning his master’s degree at Howard College. He was later awarded honorary degrees from Union University and Carson-Newman College. Crouch served ten pastorates in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee. Attending his first SBC annual meeting in 1898, Crouch steadily emerged as an insightful, trusted, and effective leader in Convention life, a consummate pastor and preacher, and a personal soul-winner. His 1924 book, The Plan of Salvation, the first of his five books, was widely used for witness training and was translated into other languages for use by overseas missionaries. Crouch served multiple terms with the Young People’s Baptist Union in the opening decade of the twentieth century. In the years that followed, he served on the boards of trustees for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Commission on Ministerial Pensions, and the Commission on Ministerial Relief and Annuities. In 1920, Crouch was elected to both the Home Mission Board and the Education Board. In 1922 he became the superintendent of church extension for the HMB, returning to the pastorate two years later. In 1925, Crouch recommended creation of the Business Efficiency Committee, serving as its chairman during its two-year study of the Convention’s structure and processes. In 1927, he was selected as a member of the reorganized Executive Committee and was elected shortly thereafter to serve as the Executive Committee’s first executive secretary-treasurer. Crouch and his wife Myrtle Oldham Crouch regularly attended SBC annual meetings as messengers, their names appearing together in the Convention’s annual register of messengers. Mrs. Crouch was active in the Convention auxiliary On Woman’s Work, and served numerous terms on the Preservation of Baptist History Committee. She was later certified by the Sunday School Board and recommended to the churches as a “helper in training work.” photos of the official portraits of each executive committee executive secretary/president by andy beachum

HIGHLIGHTS A synopsis of “five notable contributions” listed in Albert McClellan’s article on Austin Crouch in the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, volume 3.

• His calming influence, allaying fears that

• Crouch’s call for the Business Efficiency

• His business acumen and integrity to

Committee to bring financial “order out of chaos” led to the restructure of the Executive Committee and creation of the SBC Business and Financial Plan.

His multi-year effort to convince the states, many of whom were initially resistant, to voluntary support the Cooperative Program.

the restructured Executive Committee would morph into a “super church” hierarchy.

stabilize the Convention through two decades of seemingly insurmountable debt, compounded by the Great Depression and World War II.

• His spiritual leadership and commitment

to the Convention’s mission “hand in hand with business leadership when both were necessary for survival” during troubling times.

Above: First EC Executive Secretary of the SBC Executive Committee Austin Crouch (right) meets in Nashville, Tennessee, with his senior leadership team, EC Director of Promotion J. E. Dillard and EC Treasurer and Director of Publicity W. M. Gilmore, prior to the much-anticipated 1944 SBC annual meeting. Due to World War II, both the 1943 and the 1945 Centennial SBC annual meetings were cancelled upon request of the US Government. Left: Crouch confers with his secretary in his office as he nears the end of his tenure serving Southern Baptists by leading the reorganized, incorporated Executive Committee. photos courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives







he 1952 report of the Executive Committee had a section entitled, “A Sense of Loss.” It stated, “The Executive Committee felt a sense of loss in the going of Dr. McCall to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He made a distinct contribution to the life of Southern Baptists through his leadership in the Executive Committee.” This eloquent testimony reveals the magnitude of the impact McCall made on Executive Committee members personally and the impact he made corporately on their work in his five years of leadership. McCall’s obvious talents propelled him into key leadership roles in the Convention early in life. Born in Meridian, Mississippi, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, in a judge’s home, McCall enrolled in Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. There he met Marguerite Mullinnix. The couple married shortly after McCall graduated as valedictorian in 1935. Together they raised four sons. The McCalls moved to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned his master of theology degree in 1938 and doctor of philosophy degree in 1942. During his seminary years, McCall served as pastor of several churches, including Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville. The year following his graduation from Southern Seminary, trustees at the Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans (now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) elected McCall as president. McCall had already earned a reputation for his effective preaching, evangelistic zeal, and capable leadership. His three years leading the Institute merely reinforced that reputation. In 1946, the Executive Committee reached out to the thirty-two-year-old to assume the leadership of the Convention’s fiduciary and executive entity. His visionary leadership, coupled with the post-World War II vibrant optimism that gripped Southern Baptists, provided the fertile soil for unprecedented gains in church membership, financial support for Convention causes, and expansion of Convention ministries. Following a quarter century of financial hardship, the Convention’s accomplishments during McCall’s short tenure at the helm almost staggger the imagination. McCall left the EC to lead his alma mater for thirty years. He also represented Southern Baptists on the Baptist World Alliance and served a five-year term as president of the organization.

HIGHLIGHTS • Recognizing the need for a news service

to tell the stories of the burgeoning set of SBC ministries, Baptist Press was created as a service of the Executive Committee in late 1946.

• Responding to calls for additional seminary • McCall helped formalize creation of the locations, McCall helped “bend” the CP to accommodate two new seminaries, Golden Gate (now Gateway) and Southeastern.

Southern Baptist Foundation, transferring all the trust funds of the Executive Committee to its new subsidiary corporation.

From left, former EC Associate Executive Secretary Albert McClellan, former EC Executive Secretary Duke McCall, former EC Executive Secretary Porter Routh, and EC Executive Secretary Harold Bennett share a moment at the podium during the 1985 SBC annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. photos courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

• McCall worked with the Public Affairs

Committee and the Social Service Commission (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) to become full-time SBC entities.

Duke McCall, second executive secretary of the SBC Executive Committee, prepares to deliver the EC report during his first SBC annual meeting in his new role, May 1946.







orter W. Routh was born in Lockhart, Texas, into a renowned Baptist family. His father was a pastor, editor, and denominational leader. The names and faces of learned and accomplished Baptist statesmen were commonplace in his home, preparing him for a lifetime of service to Southern Baptists. A layman, Routh attended his first SBC annual meeting in 1939 and did not miss attending the annual meeting for more than forty years. Routh met Ruth Elizabeth Purtle while they were students at Oklahoma Baptist University. They were married for fifty-one years and had five children. He became an instructor in journalism at his alma mater and later was editor of the state convention’s Baptist Message. He also served as secretary of brotherhood and promotion for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. In the post-war era, he was secretary of survey, statistics, and information for the Baptist Sunday School Board and was elected SBC senior (recording) secretary for six terms. In 1951, he was elected SBC treasurer and executive secretary-treasurer for the SBC Executive Committee, a position he held for almost twenty-eight years. He was the author of five books and was awarded honorary degrees from Oklahoma Baptist University, Wake Forest University, and Georgetown College. Following his retirement in 1979, Routh continued to be active in Southern Baptist life, serving as interim executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and as an adjunct professor at three SBC seminaries. He and his wife visited numerous Southern Baptist mission fields. Routh served as a Southern Baptist representative to the Baptist World Alliance until 1985, serving as the program chairman for the 1985 BWA meeting, and was an SBC representative on the board of managers of the of the American Bible Society until his death in 1987. In 1986, he received the first Joseph M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award from the Baptist Joint Committee. A resolution of appreciation adopted by the Convention in 1979 noted Routh’s “personal dedication to Jesus Christ, his personal discipline as an accomplished administrator and leader, and his personal loyalty to Baptist ideas and causes.” It noted he had been “supremely faithful to the mission and ministry of the local Baptist churches in which he has held membership” and called him “a worthy exemplar for other devoted churchmen.”

HIGHLIGHTS • Routh successfully created a synergistic relationship with the Home Mission Board for numerous church-assistance initiatives, including the HMB church loan ministry.

• Under Routh’s leadership, the Cooperative

Program budget process grew into a three-tier process: CP allocation budget, CP capital needs budget, and CP advance (challenge) budget.

1954 EC Officers: seated from left, Homer Lindsey Sr., vice president; J. W. Storer, president; Oliver Shields, vice president; standing left, Joe Burton, secretary; and standing right, James Merritt, secretary; with EC Executive Secretary Porter Routh, standing center. photos courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

• As the number of SBC agencies grew and building programs expanded, Routh sought to broaden CP support, establishing the Stewardship Commission in 1960.

• Routh helped shepherd the 1959–1964

Baptist Jubilee Advance with other North American Baptists to carry out “all phases of the Great Commission with zeal and fervor.”

Executive Committee Executive Secretary Porter Routh (center) signs paperwork for the organization of the Stewardship Commission in 1960. Witnessing the signature are new Stewardship Commission Executive Secretary Merrill Moore (left) and the Commission’s first chairman, Harold Sanders.







arold C. Bennett retired as executive secretary-treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1992 following thirteen years of EC service. Early in his ministry, he served Southern Baptists as superintendent of new work for the Baptist Sunday School Board and secretary of the Home Mission Board’s department of metropolitan missions. He was also director of the missions division of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Prior to his election to serve the Executive Committee, Bennett was executive secretary-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention for twelve years. During that time, he served as president of the Association of Southern Baptist State Executive Directors, was president of the Association of Baptist State Convention Church Bond Plans, was a director of the board of governors of the American Bible Society, and was a director of the board of trustees of Religion in American Life. He also served as vice president of the Baptist World Alliance. In addition to his ministry service, Bennett was as a pilot in the United States Navy in World War II and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A resolution of appreciation adopted by the SBC at Bennett’s retirement noted that he had set a lifelong goal to live out his 1948 ordination charge: “Be first of all a real Christian, then a minister.” To that end, he ministered for two years in prison chaplaincy in Kentucky and served as a pastor for eleven years at churches in North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Bennett was a graduate of Wake Forest University and received the master of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Four Baptist universities conferred honorary degrees on him: the doctor of laws from Stetson University, the doctor of divinity from Campbell University, the doctor of divinity from Wake Forest University, and the doctor of sacred theology from Southwest Baptist University. Bennett authored Reflections of Faith and was editor of God’s Awesome Challenge: Compelling Messages for Winning the World in This Century. He and his wife, Phyllis Jean Metz Bennett of Joliet, Illinois, raised their three children, John, Scott, and Cynthia Ann, in a Christian home.

HIGHLIGHTS • Elected to his role the same year that many

date as the beginning of the Conservative Resurgence (1979), Bennett led the Executive Committee during a time when many decisions at the SBC annual meeting were approved by the slimmest of margins. A resolution of appreciation presented to him upon his retirement noted that Bennett “offered gracious and effective leadership through some of the Convention’s most challenging years.”

• Despite often rancorous floor debates,

numerous motions directed to specific SBC entities, logistical challenges associated with unprecedented attendance at successive SBC annual meetings, and divided camps over SBC officer elections, Bennett perennially kept Bold Mission Thrust, a twenty-year initiative designed to take the Gospel to the whole world by the year 2000, before Southern Baptists.

• Inheriting the nascent Bold Mission Thrust

initiative, Bennett worked tirelessly to gain broad-based support from the Inter-Agency Council (SBC entity leaders; now the Great Commission Council), leading the Convention to adopt a succession of five-year measurable goals in every area of Southern Baptist ministry.

• During Bennett’s tenure, Cooperative

Program gifts from churches for SBC missions and ministries were consistently in the 9 to 10 percent range of churches’ undesignated gifts.

Above: Fourth Executive Committee Executive Secretary Harold Bennett (left) and Chief Parliamentarian Barry McCarty (right) confer during debate over an EC recommendation during the 1991 SBC annual meeting. Top Left: Bennett confers with W. C. Fields (left), EC vice president for public relations, during a meeting. Bottom Left: Bennett and his wife Phyllis are recognized for their thirteen years of EC leadership during the 1992 SBC annual meeting. photos courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

meet your executive committee MISSION STATEMENT The Executive Committee exists 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.



he Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention is the “fiduciary, the fiscal, and the executive entity of the Convention in all its affairs not specifically committed to some other board or entity.” It acts for the Convention between sessions and consists of the president and recording secretary of the Convention, the president of the Woman’s Missionary Union, and one member from each cooperating state or defined territory of the Convention. Additional members may be added from each state, up to a total of five, depending on the number of Southern Baptists in the state. In 1916, Manson Wolfe of Texas proposed to amend the SBC Constitution “to create one strong executive board which shall direct all of the work and enterprises fostered and promoted by this Convention.” The Consolidation Committee report was presented to the SBC in 1917 and urged that a “standing committee” be established to act for the SBC between sessions. This initial Executive Committee of seven represented different parts of the Convention’s territory at the time. It was charged to arrange the annual meetings and was “empowered to act in an advisory way in all questions submitted to it on matters arising between the boards of this Convention.” In 1927, the Convention enlarged the

functions of the Executive Committee. The EC was incorporated and hired its first executive secretary. Headquartered in Nashville, the reorganized Executive Committee assumed responsibility for developing the SBC financial program and developing closer cooperation between state conventions and the SBC. Austin Crouch was elected as the first executive secretary of the expanded Executive Committee, serving from 1927 until 1946. Duke McCall succeeded Crouch, remaining until 1951, when he became president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Porter Routh was executive secretary from 1951–1979, Harold Bennett served from 1979–1992, and Morris Chapman served from 1992­–2010. Frank S. Page became president and CEO in 2010. The Executive Committee handles all Convention funds. Cooperative Program funds are distributed weekly to SBC entities according to percentages adopted by the Convention. From 1927 to 1960, when the Stewardship Commission was formed, the Executive Committee was primarily responsible for promotion of the Cooperative Program. The SBC returned CP promotion to the Executive Committee in the Covenant for a New Century restructure of Convention entities in 1997. Since the 1970s, the Executive Committee

has operated with three committees. Currently, these are the Administrative Committee, the Business and Finance Committee, and the Cooperative Program Committee. The Executive Committee studies the work of the SBC’s eleven ministry entities. Though it has no authority over them, it may make recommendations to them. The Executive Committee promotes the work of the Convention and its entities. One way is through its publications program. In addition to, the Convention’s web-based hub of “all things Southern Baptist,” publications of the Executive Committee include SBC LIFE, numerous online and print brochures, and Baptist Press. SBC LIFE is the successor to Baptist Program, which dates to 1925. It is distributed free of charge to Southern Baptist pastors and denominational workers and posted online at Baptist Press ( is a daily news service begun in 1946 that posts its own stories and distributes news and information to Baptist state papers and the secular press. The Executive Committee also prints and distributes the SBC Annual, the annual SBC Book of Reports, and the SBC annual meeting Daily Bulletins. Adapted from AR 627-1, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee, December 2012.

EC Chairman Stephen Rummage (far right) relinquishes the podium to Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the Executive Committee, as Page gives Executive Committee members an update about their colleagues who were unable to attend the February 2017 meeting during the Committee’s first plenary session in Nashville, Tennessee. photos by morris abernathy


he Southern Baptist Convention is a national organization which, since 1845, has sought to maximize local churches’ impact for Kingdom missions and ministries. The SBC is not a Church, as some think; it is a network of churches. The Convention’s structure is designed by representatives (called messengers) to “elicit, combine, and direct the energies of Baptists for the propagation of the Gospel.” These messengers (up to twelve per church) meet annually to conduct the business of the Convention and to encourage one another to stay focused on Great Commission missions, evangelism, and ministries.

The SBC exists to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of Baptists for the propagation of the Gospel.

Four Pillars of Cooperation


he SBC is the national component of the broader Southern Baptist network composed of numerous autonomous Baptist bodies—thousands of churches, hundreds of local associations, scores of state and regional Baptist conventions, dozens of ethnic fellowships, and a missions auxiliary. These churches and related Baptist groups cooperatively labor to fulfill God’s mandate to make disciples of all peoples. This expansive array of autonomous bodies is built on four foundational pillars: (1) Common commitment to the missional purposes of Christ’s Great Commission and Great Commandment; (2) Shared doctrinal beliefs concerning the Bible, the self-revelation of God to fallen humanity, and His redemptive purposes to save the lost through Jesus Christ; (3) Mutual trust that each Baptist body, from local church to denominational entity, seeks to operate under the Lordship of Christ and earnestly desires the betterment of the entire Southern Baptist movement; and (4) Voluntary cooperation with the values, ministries, and purposes of the Convention. To the extent these four pillars have been broadly embraced by Southern Baptists at any given time, the Southern Baptist experiment, undergirded by an always fragile set of relationships, has thrived. But when Southern Baptists’ collective commitment to one or more of these pillars has shown signs of decay, the entire enterprise has been imperiled.

Common commitment to missional values; Shared doctrinal beliefs; Mutual trust; Voluntary cooperation. The SBC “Ad Interim”


hough the Southern Baptist Convention only meets two days a year, the Southern Baptist network is busy doing ministry every day. The Executive Committee (EC) assists the Convention’s cooperating churches by acting for the Convention ad interim in all matters not otherwise provided. The EC’s mission statement assigns two overarching objectives: • To encourage cooperation and confidence of churches, associations, and state conventions in the missions and ministries of the SBC; • To facilitate maximum support for the Convention’s worldwide missions and ministries. The Executive Committee serves a dual role for the Convention. As a standing committee of the Convention, governed by SBC Bylaw 18, it follows a deliberative process in handling Convention business. As a facilitating entity of the Convention, guided by six ministry assignments listed in the SBC Organization Manual, it promotes the overall Southern Baptist ministry and promotes cooperation and cooperative giving for the full range of Southern Baptist work. As a standing committee, the EC is comprised of eighty-six men and women reflecting a mix of active lay persons and ordained ministers from a wide range of denominational, demographic, and geographical interests and backgrounds. The EC members represent thirty-eight states or defined regions of the country. They are elected by the Convention in its annual meeting and can serve two consecutive four-year terms. As a facilitating entity, the EC employs twentynine full-time staff members to carry out the day-to-day duties assigned to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee office is one of five ministries housed in the SBC Building in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, which the EC manages according to guidelines adopted by the building’s occupants.

Encourage cooperation and confidence. Facilitate maximum support for worldwide missions and ministries.

Financial Responsibilities and The Cooperative Program


he Executive Committee is the fiduciary, fiscal, and executive entity of the Convention. It is specifically authorized, instructed, and commissioned to act for the Convention in all its affairs not expressly committed to some other SBC entity. Its duties are enumerated in SBC Bylaw 18, the SBC Organization Manual, and the Convention’s Business and Financial Plan. The EC receives, disburses, and reports all Convention assets, real and financial, in a highly accountable system. All designated and undesignated contributions are disbursed to the SBC entities on at least a weekly basis. The Executive Committee is specifically charged to promote the “whole Cooperative Program”— which funds both state and national Southern Baptist ministries—and to solicit annual reports from the SBC entities about their efforts to do the same. In recent years, this has been done under the banner “Great Commission Advance,” promoting an aggressive global vision supported by a strong home base, with the entirety fueled by the Cooperative Program. The Executive Committee also presents to the Convention each year a consolidated and comprehensive financial statement of the Convention and all its entities, showing the assets and liabilities of each, as well as all cash and other receipts. These reports are printed in the SBC Book of Reports. Other financial duties include certifying that all SBC entities follow generally accepted accounting principles; assuring that no Convention entity appeals directly to a church for financial contributions; and making monthly reports of all receipts and disbursements through Baptist Press and forwarding the reports to SBC entity presidents, state Baptist convention executives, and state Baptist publications.

An aggressive global vision; a strong home base; fueled by and through the Cooperative Program. Publicizing and Promoting Missions and Ministries


he ministry entities of the Convention are focused on assisting churches in the fulfillment of Great Commission ministry

goals. The Executive Committee serves as the facilitating and coordinating ministry to and for the Convention’s entities and its cooperating churches. To that end, the Executive Committee publicizes and promotes the ministries of the eleven SBC entities. It also interprets and publicizes the overall Southern Baptist ministry, including myriad missions and ministries occurring through local churches, associations, state conventions, ethnic Baptist fellowships in the United States, and numerous affinity groups across the entire Southern Baptist network.

Interpret and publicize the overall Southern Baptist ministry. The SBC Annual Meeting


he Executive Committee recommends meeting sites for future SBC annual meetings and oversees the arrangements for the meetings of the Convention, including oversight of the exhibit hall. An interesting matter of discussion at successive SBC annual meetings in the 1920s addressed what had become a perennial problem. Following the successful launch of the Seventy-Five Million Campaign in 1919, exhibitors began flocking to the SBC annual meeting, attracting crowds to the exhibit space and disturbing the proceedings in the convention hall. In 1923, the Convention adopted the following resolution: “Resolved, That we accept no invitation from any city for the sessions of the Southern Baptist Convention without the Executive Committee of the Convention having exclusive control of all exhibit space.” The Executive Committee also assigns the Convention’s press representative, coordinating news operations for the annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention. The press representative is charged to “cooperate with representatives of the secular press in furnishing intelligent, accurate, and creditable reports of this Convention while in session.”

Oversee arrangements for the SBC annual meetings. Furnish intelligent, accurate, and creditable reports of the Convention while in session.

Chairman Stephen Rummage presides over a vote during the second plenary session at the February 2017 Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Most business matters are reviewed three times by Executive Committee members­before reaching the plenary session.

Authority and Autonomy SBC Entities. The ministry endeavors of each SBC entity are entrusted to the entity’s Convention-elected board of trustees. The boards of trustees are accountable directly to the Convention. Though the Executive Committee has no authority to control or direct any entity of the Convention, it is charged to maintain open channels of communication between itself and the trustees of the Convention’s ministry entities. The EC is charged to obtain information from the entities about their ministry plans, accomplishments, and financial data. It maintains the SBC Organization Manual, listing the responsibilities the Convention has assigned its entities, and presents recommendations intended to expand, clarify, and/or eliminate overlap in their assignments of responsibility.

State Baptist Conventions. The relationship between the Executive Committee and each of the forty-two state Baptist conventions that cooperate with the SBC is one of voluntary and close cooperation. The Convention has directed the Executive Committee to act as an advisor on questions between the state conventions and the SBC and its entities. The Great Commission Task Force report, adopted in 2010, clarified that the Executive Committee should collaborate with the state conventions to promote cooperative giving to Southern Baptist causes though the Cooperative Program, the Convention’s basic program of giving. Ethnic Fellowships. On any given Sunday, Southern Baptists worship the Lord in more than one hundred languages across the United States and its territories. The Executive Committee, in concert with the SBC entities, develops and

The Executive Committee Transacting Business

EC Chairman Stephen Rummage (left), Senior Executive Assistant to the Board Becky Chandler, and President Frank S. Page confer during a break at the February 2017 Executive Committee meeting.

maintains close relationships with leaders of these various racial, ethnic, and language fellowships that cooperate with the SBC. The EC seeks to understand the perspectives these diverse churches and church leaders bring to our common task of reaching our nation and the nations with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, sharing those perspectives with Southern Baptist pastors and SBC entity presidents. Associations. While the Executive Committee does not work directly with local associations, it interacts regularly with national associational networks. It solicits and reports news stories of cooperative ministries that are best exemplified at the local associational level. The Executive Committee collaborates with associational staff and state conventions when fielding inquiries from churches expressing an interest in becoming Southern Baptist.

Churches. Each local church that voluntarily cooperates with the SBC retains its full independence and autonomy in all matters. The Executive Committee and the SBC entities have been given specific ministry assignments to assist its cooperating churches. Very intentionally, each ministry assignment begins with the words “assist churches.” Churches do not exist to assist the Convention; the SBC exists to assist the churches by providing “a general organization for Baptists in the United States and its territories for the promotion of Christian missions at home and abroad and any other objects such as Christian education, benevolent enterprises, and social services which it may deem proper and advisable for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.” This is the heartbeat of the Southern Baptist structure.

Stars denote points of origin.

The full Executive Committee meets three times each year, with the Officers holding conference calls more often. The full Executive Committee has a two-day meeting each September and each February. It has a one-day meeting in June just prior to the SBC annual meeting.


Over time, the EC has developed a deliberative process in conducting its business. The vast majority of matters considered by the Executive Committee are reviewed, with the possibility for approval or adjustment, a minimum of four times by EC members (see graphic to the right). The EC considers motions from one of four sources (see gold stars on diagram):

• • • •

Out of Order

Matters referred to the EC by the Southern Baptist Convention; Matters generated by EC staff in conference with the EC Officers; Matters generated by motion of an EC member; Matters requested by an SBC entity.

Voted Down

Voted Up

Staff Workup

Once an item of business is calendared, it follows the deliberative process outlined below: Step 1: Executive Committee staff provides the background materials on each matter to be considered to the entire Executive Committee, accompanied by tentative recommendations to the six EC Officers for their review. Step 2: The EC Officers make preliminary recommendations to the Committee’s Workgroups. Each Executive Committee member is assigned to one of eight Workgroups (nine to thirteen members per Workgroup).

Officer Review and Approval To Special Committees

Committee Consideration

Step 3: Each Workgroup reviews the background materials and preliminary recommendations for each matter assigned to it. The Workgroup is empowered to affirm, adjust, or amend each recommendation before forwarding it to the appropriate Committee. Step 4: Each Committee is empowered to review, affirm, adjust, or amend each recommendation before forwarding it to the full Executive Committee in one of its plenary sessions. Each Workgroup is a subset of one of the three Committees. The committees have about twenty-seven or twenty-eight members each. Step 5: The full Executive Committee is empowered to review, affirm, adjust, or amend each recommendation before the vote is taken. Only at this point is a recommendation ready to be printed in the Book of Reports or Daily Bulletin for consideration by messengers to the next SBC annual meeting. The vast majority of matters considered by the Executive Committee are reviewed, with the possibility for approval or adjustment, a minimum of four times by EC members—the Officers, an EC Workgroup, an EC Committee, the full EC in Plenary Session—before being forwarded as a recommendation for the full SBC in annual session.

Workgroup Consideration

Plenary Committee Recommendation

Voted Down

Voted Down


To Other SBC Entities


Voted Up

Voted Up

Defining the Work of the Convention

Executive Committee Staff

The Executive Committee recommends the adoption by the Convention of the following as defining the relations of the Southern Baptist Convention to other Baptist bodies:

The eighty-six members of the Executive Committee employ a full-time staff of twenty-nine to oversee and perform the day-to-day operations of Convention business. As a Board, EC members establish policies, set direction, and employ the EC president. EC staff carry out the duties assigned by the Executive Committee, administered through the EC president and chief executive officer. The EC staff currently conducts its work through six areas of responsibility.

1. The Southern Baptist Convention is organized like all other Baptist bodies, on the voluntary principle. This is derived from the fundamental principle on which a Baptist church is constituted—self-determination in all matters pertaining to its own work under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 2. The relation of the Convention to all other Baptist general bodies is purely advisory. It has no authority over the churches, over District Associations, State Conventions, or other Baptist bodies of any kind, nor has any other Baptist general body any authority over the Convention. 3. The Convention occupies a sphere in our denominational work peculiar to itself and in conflict with no other organization or interest of the denomination. In order, therefore, that the unity, integrity and efficiency of the Convention be not weakened or impaired, it is necessary that the Convention maintain and preserve its own right and function in determining its general plans, policies and programs as to organization and methods, the raising of funds and general objectives involved in its own work. This is simply another way of saying that the Convention should preserve its own integrity as a Baptist body. 4. In all cases and degrees where the activities of the Convention are related to the activities of other Baptist bodies the controlling principle is free and voluntary cooperation for common ends. Since no Baptist body has authority over any other, there can be no question of dictation on either side. Among Baptists moral and spiritual rights and obligations are mutual. Only confusion can result from a failure to recognize the mutuality of these relations. We cooperate, not by coercion, but by mutual consent. Free conference and frank discussion enable us to reach satisfactory conclusions for cooperative work. We must never convert moral and spiritual into legal relations among Baptist general bodies. 1923 SBC Annual, Proceedings #86, “Report of the Committee to Which Was Referred the Executive Committee’s Report and Special Recommendation,” pp. 70-75; citation, p. 74.

While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention. SBC Constitution, Article IV. Authority

President’s Office. Frank S. Page, president and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of the SBC Executive Committee, supervises the EC staff and represents the EC to Convention entities, cooperating Baptist churches, associations, and state Baptist conventions, and other general Baptist bodies. He serves in a collaborative vision-casting role with other Convention leaders. By SBC action, he serves as treasurer of the SBC, overseeing receipt and disbursement of all gifts received by the Executive Committee in accordance with Convention action. Office of Convention Policy and Operations. As executive vice president and general counsel, D. August Boto provides procedural and legal advice to the EC and the SBC, conducts SBC officer and trustee orientations, and regularly reviews the SBC governing documents. His staff produces the SBC Annual and Book of Reports, assists the committees that nominate trustees and plan the annual meeting program, and oversees security and functionality for Office of Convention Advancement. Working through multiple advisory groups, Ken Weathersby and his team solicit perspectives of ethnic minority churches, younger leaders, small church and bivocational pastors, and other affinity groups across Convention life. He and his team seek to engage churches to greater participation with the Southern Baptist Convention, helping them more fully appreciate and embrace cooperation and the Cooperative Program. Office of Convention Communications and Relations. Led by Roger S. (Sing) Oldham, this division produces numerous resources designed to tell the Southern Baptist story, provides news with a Christian perspective for Baptists and other Christians, and interprets Southern Baptist polity, positions, and perspectives to secular media and the public. Baptist Press is the Convention’s daily news service and SBC LIFE is the news journal of the Executive Committee. Office of Cooperative Program and Stewardship. Working closely with state convention executives and state CP specialists, C. Ashley Clayton and his team seek to inspire confidence in cooperation and facilitate maximum support for Southern Baptists’ domestic and overseas missions and ministries. Through a partnership with Ramsey Stewardship Solutions, this office provides biblical stewardship resources for Southern Baptists and their churches. Office of Convention Finance. William (Bill) Townes and his staff account for all gifts received and distributed for Convention work in accordance with Convention-adopted principles and procedures. They oversee all logistics for each year’s SBC annual meeting, including hotel reservations and assignment of exhibit hall and meeting room space for scores of meetings held in the convention center. Working with the local arrangements committee, they enlist hundreds of volunteers to staff the annual meeting. They also maintain the SBC building in Nashville.

Resources to Help You Tell the Southern Baptist Story Meet Southern Baptists

introduces newcomers to the common convictions and farreaching ministries of Southern Baptists. It explains: • Who Southern Baptists Are • What Southern Baptists Believe • What Southern Baptists Do • How Southern Baptists Advance the Gospel • Why Southern Baptists Do What They Do

The Southern Baptist Convention: A Closer Look

is a wonderful resource to help your church members better understand the organization, structure, and activity of Southern Baptists at the local, state, and national (SBC) levels, as well as how autonomous local Southern Baptist churches partner together in ministries and missions.

How to Use These Resources • New member classes

• Distribution at your church • Budget planning • Associational meetings • Conventional emphases on the SBC Event Calendar

Meet Southern Baptists is available for download in six languages at






orris H. Chapman’s leadership as president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee was a natural extension of numerous leadership roles in local church and denominational life. Chapman played a pivotal and strategic role in the continuation of the initiative to return Southern Baptist entities to their historic conservative stance regarding God’s Word. Over a span of twenty-five years, Chapman was pastor of four churches in Texas and New Mexico, leading them to be in the top tier in their respective state conventions in baptisms and Cooperative Program giving. He served as chairman of the SBC Committee on Order of Business, preached the Convention Sermon in 1989, and preached in three SBC Pastors’ Conferences, serving one term as its president. At the state level, he served in various appointed and elected positions in three Baptist state conventions: the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the New Mexico Baptist Convention, and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He also served two terms as SBC president. A native of Kosciusko, Mississippi, Chapman was converted to faith in Jesus Christ in the pastor’s office at First Baptist Church of Laurel, Mississippi. Chapman graduated from Mississippi College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received his master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. He was later awarded honorary degrees from Southwest Baptist University, Mississippi College, and Grand Canyon University and was the recipient of the M. E. Dodd Denominational Service Award from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He is the author of four books, providing valuable Bible studies and addressing crucial issues among Southern Baptists. Shortly after his election as president of the Convention in 1990, Chapman participated in two evangelistic harvest opportunities, one in Kenya, the other in Korea. He said, “These two experiences left me exhilarated and hopeful for America.” Greatly moved by these experiences, he returned to America determined to call Southern Baptists to a spiritual awakening, asking the Home Mission Board to sponsor “Crossover Atlanta,” an evangelism initiative preceding the annual meeting. Chapman’s fervor for missions took him to forty-two countries around the world where he led evangelistic services and conferences and ministered with missionaries and nationals. He and his wife Jodi established a Christian home in which they raised two children, Chris and Stephanie.

HIGHLIGHTS • Chapman led the EC to call the

Convention to adopt the Covenant for a New Century in 1997, restructuring the Convention to become “more efficient and effective” for the twenty-first century.

• Chapman routinely challenged Southern

Baptists to a passionate commitment to prayer for revival in our nation. When he launched, he set up a corollary website dedicated to facilitating prayer.

• At

Chapman’s initiative, the SBC embraced Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG), a call for Southern Baptist churches and members unreservedly and wholeheartedly to pursue the Kingdom of God above all else.

• Seeking to secure the Convention’s future

ownership and authority over its entities, Chapman led the EC and each SBC entity to designate the SBC as the “sole member” in their corporate documents.

Above: Fifth Executive Committee President and CEO Morris H. Chapman (right) speaks with Mark Brister (center), chairman of the SBC Program and Structure Study Committee, and EC Chairman Fred Wolfe during the sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1995.

• After the SBC voted to withdraw from

Top Right: Chapman preaches in San Miguel, El Salvador, as part of Global Evangelical Relations, an SBC initiative to build relationships with evangelicals around the world.

the Baptist World Alliance, Chapman led the Executive Committee to establish the Global Evangelical Relations initiative, seeking to build and maintain relationships with likeminded Baptists and other evangelicals around the world.

Bottom Right: Chapman (left) presents the M. E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award to First Baptist Church, Sparkman, Arkansas. Pastor Eric Moffett (right) and his wife, accompanied by long-time member Don White and his wife, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation. photos courtesy of baptist press

EC Chairman Stephen Rummage (left), Senior ittee meeting.








rank S. Page’s service as president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee followed thirty-four years of church and denominational leadership. He was pastor of six churches in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. He served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and was vice president of evangelism for the North American Mission Board. He was a member of the SBC Great Commission Task Force and served as a director of Baptist Global Response. He also served on the boards of trustees of numerous state convention ministries. During his two years as president of the SBC, Page was a frequent guest on national and local television networks and programs, including NBC, CBS, CBN, Fox News, and Larry King Live. In 2007, he was named as one of the Fifty Most Influential Christians in America by The Church Report. He also served on President Barack Obama’s Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. An active personal evangelist, Page’s passion for sharing the Gospel with the lost grows out of his personal devotion to Christ and his experience as a child. Growing up in an unchurched home, he was invited by a couple to attend Southside Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he professed faith in Jesus Christ at age nine. He later graduated from Gardner-Webb University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the master of divinity degree and earned his PhD in Christian ethics. He was ordained at Immanuel Baptist Church in Greensboro. He is the author of numerous books, has written articles for various publications, was the lead writer for the Advanced Continuing Witness Training material and, while president of the Convention, was the motivating catalyst behind NAMB’s evangelism strategy, God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS). When Page began his service as president and CEO of the Executive Committee, he set an immediate goal to establish an atmosphere of trust at every level of Convention life. He pledged to focus his leadership on appealing to Southern Baptists to exercise Christlike selflessness; to help younger generations see the value of cooperative work; to call on every Southern Baptist—from entity president to denominational worker, from pastor to the person on the pew—to be a “Jesus people”; and to be an encourager. He has worked tirelessly to make this vision a reality. Page and his wife Dayle have three daughters, Melissa (d. November 2009), Laura, and Allison.


On his second day as EC president in 2010, Page announced his intention to appoint the first of four ethnic advisory councils in concert with the North American Mission Board to help SBC entity leaders more fully understand and appreciate the perspectives ethnic churches and church leaders bring to the common task of reaching the nation and the nations with the Gospel.

Seeking to inaugurate a new era of mutual trust among and between leaders at every level of Southern Baptist life, Page invited the SBC president, the twelve SBC entity and auxiliary leaders, the forty-two state Baptist convention executives, and leaders from numerous ethnic fellowships to join him on the platform to sign and affirm an Affirmation of Unity and Cooperation during his first Executive Committee report at the 2011 SBC annual meeting.

Working with NAMB President Kevin Ezell, Page created the position of presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations, tapping Ken Weathersby, former vice president for evangelism with NAMB, to fill the role. Two years later, Weathersby became the first African American to hold a vice presidential role at the Executive Committee when Page selected him to serve as vice president for Convention advancement with the SBC Executive Committee.

Page continues to change the conversation about personal evangelism, global missions, and confidence in supporting the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ primary funding plan.

Frank S. Page, left, president of the SBC Executive Committee, and Jessica Wan, a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, verify information as they and other seminary students do door-to-door evangelism in Phoenix, Arizona, prior to the 2017 SBC annual meeting. photo by kathleen murray



Rhonda Kelley, professor of Women’s Ministry at Leavell College and director of Women’s Ministry Programs at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, presents the Women’s Advisory Council Report to EC President Frank S. Page at the Many Faces Exhibit at the 2017 SBC annual meeting. photo by daniel woodman

Sixth President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee Frank S. Page speaks to students at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, in 2015. photo by mark houser/gardner-webb university

Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship members pray over Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, at a June 2014 gathering where Page was the featured speaker. photo by paul w. lee

Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page, seated second from right, met with the EC African American Advisory Council on February 6–7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ken Weathersby, EC vice president for Convention Advancement, joined by his Convention Advancement Advisory Council and numerous ethnic fellowship presidents and leaders, present a facsimile of The Many Faces of the Southern Baptist Convention to EC President Frank S. Page at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 18, 2017. The book chronicles the work and reports of numerous advisory councils Page has appointed since 2011.

photo by diana chandler/baptist press

photo by roger s. oldham



’ the ec s six ministry statements not otherwise assigned.

Since 1925, Southern Baptists have contributed more than

$18 billion

2. Assist churches by providing a Convention news service. 3. Assist churches by providing a Convention public relations service. 4. Assist churches, Baptist general bodies and their entities, and other evangelical organizations and individuals through estate planning consultation and investment management primarily for funds providing support for Southern Baptist causes. 5. Assist churches through the promotion of cooperative giving. 6. Assist churches in stewardship education.

from the sbc organization manual


cooperative program

1. Assist churches through conducting and administering the work of the Convention

through the Cooperative Program to fund the missions and ministries of their state Baptist conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention, helping build the largest fully-funded overseas missions force, the largest number of students being trained in theological education, and the most aggressive church planting network in the history of evangelical missions and ministry.

The One Hundredth Anniversary Executive Committee and executive staff gather for a group picture following the Committee’s pre-convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 12, 2017. EC president and CEO Frank S. Page is sixth from the left, followed to the right by Stephen Rummage, EC chairman; Shane Hall, EC vice chairman; Kent Choate, EC officer; Becky Illingworth, EC secretary; Stacy Bramlett, EC secretary-elect; and Rolland Slade, EC officer. EC officer Stephen Swofford is in the blue shirt directly behind Page. photo by matt miller

the three homes of the executive committee

The Executive Committee occupied the first floor of the first SBC Building, built at 460 James Robertson Parkway in Nashville, Tennessee, and dedicated at the EC’s February 1963 meeting. photo courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

The Executive Committee’s first home was in office space provided by the Baptist Sunday School Board in the J. M. Frost Building, built in 1913, on Rosa Parks Boulevard in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Executive Committee offices are in the current SBC Building at 901 Commerce Street in Nashville, Tennessee, constructed in 1984–1985 to house eight ministries of the Convention.

photo courtesy of southern baptist historical library and archives

time- lapse photo by jim veneman and courtesy of the ethics and religious liberty commission



executive committee chairmen Number

Inclusive Years

Years Served

EC Chairman




Manson H. Wolfe




J. B. Gambrell




E. Y. Mullins




George W. McDaniel




George W. Truett




W. J. McGlothlin




Fred F. Brown




M. E. Dodd




J. E. Dillard




Frank Tripp




Charles W. Daniel




J. Howard Williams




John Buchanan




George Fraser




James W. Storer




C. C. Warren




Frank A. Hooper




Homer Lindsay, Sr.




Ramsey Pollard




Kendall Berry




John H. Haldeman




Harold W. Seever




W. Douglas Hudgins




James L. Pleitz




James Monroe




Owen Cooper




Stewart B. Simms




Charles E. Harvey




W. Ches Smith, III




Brooks H. Wester




J. Howard Cobble




John T. Dunaway




W. Dewey Presley




David C. Maddox




Charles W. Sullivan




Sam W. Pace




David E. Hankins




Fred H. Wolfe




Ronnie W. Floyd




James G. Merritt




Claude Thomas




Bruce Coe




Gary A. Smith




Rob Zinn




William F. (Bill) Harrell




Randall L. James




Roger L. Spradlin




Ernest L. Easley




Michael (Mike) Routt




Stephen Rummage

From 1919 through 1935, the SBC bylaw governing the work of the Executive Committee stipulated that the SBC president also served as chairman/president of the SBC Executive Committee. In 1935, the bylaw governing the work of the Executive Committee was amended. Since then, the Executive Committee has elected its own chairman annually.

J. B. Gambrell was SBC president in 1917 when the Executive Committee was created and served as its second chairman, 1919– 1921.

George W. Truett was SBC president in 1927 and served as the first chairman of the enlarged, incorporated Executive Committee, 1927–1930.

M. E. Dodd, instrumental in the adoption of the Cooperative Program in 1925, served as the Executive Committee’s eighth chairman, 1933–1935.

J. Howard Williams, Executive Committee chairman from 1944–1946, recommended the SBC’s 1945 Centennial annual meeting be deferred as World War II drew to a close.

above photos courtesy of the southern baptist historical library and archives

2017-2018 executive committee officers Stephen N. Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee (front right); Stephen K. Swofford, Business and Finance Committee chair (front left); Back row (left to right): Stacy S. Bramlett, secretary; M. Kent Choate, Administrative Committee chair; Rolland E. Slade, Cooperative Program Committee chair; Shane B. Hall, vice chairman of the Executive Committee. photo by morris abernathy


ollowing massive indebtedness incurred by the SBC entities following the $75 Million Campaign, compounded a few years later by the Great Depression, it took the Southern Baptist Convention and its entities more than two decades to regain a solid financial footing. The Cooperative Program was very instrumental in providing a sustainable source of income as the Convention and its entities navigated this difficult time. The two most frequently-used terms and images that appeared in The Baptist Program again and again during this extended period of time were debt-reduction and tithing. These images of article titles on each of the four pages of a 1935 stewardship issue of The Baptist Program are typical of how the Executive Committee, through its staff, sought to keep these important disciplines before Southern Baptists.

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