In the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee 175-year history, the entity has not had an African American lead its operations. According to AP News, that void is changing with Pastor Willie McLaurin being named interim president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. Before this, McLaurin was the Executive Committee’s vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization.
He will be taking over for Ronnie Floyd, who left the post in October, over how the Executive Committee’s handed a third-party investigation into how the committee addressed sexual abuse reports. McLaurin will lead the day-to-day business of the committee, which acts on behalf of the convention when it is not holding its annual two-day national gathering in June. He is expected to deliver his first report on Feb 21-22.
Pastor McLaurin stated how thankful he was for the opportunity to the Baptist Press:
“Our EC staff is committed to serving our Convention well. Jesus’ last words to us in Acts 1:8 should be our first priority as a network of churches. My prayer is that we will continue to put a laser-sharp focus on cooperation and collaboration,” McLaurin told Baptist Press.
“I want to express deep appreciation to Chairman Rolland Slade and the Executive Committee officers for entrusting me with the opportunity to serve. It is an honor to partner with Southern Baptists in advancing the mission of winning the world to Jesus,” McLaurin said.
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the country, and primarily white membership has come under fire through its previous history with racism. At first, the church was started in 1845 by southern slaveholders. The SBC has apologized and attempted to bridge the racial gap by naming New Orleans pastor Fred Luter Jr. SBC president in 2012, making him the first African American to hold the role.
Committee chairman Rolland Slade spoke about McLaurin’s appointment.
“He’s a proven servant leader,” said Rolland Slade, the committee’s chairman. “We’re serving Southern Baptists. ... That’s our role. That’s our lane as Executive Committee.”
“Under Willie’s leadership,” he said, “I believe that we will excel in that lane and that will be good.”