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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Willie McLaurin, Southern Baptist Conference Chief, Resigns Over False Résumé

With greater than 13 million members, the S.B.C. is the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and serves as a bellwether for priorities amongst American evangelicals. The S.B.C. has been wracked by fierce divisions in recent times over politics, gender and race. Some conservatives within the denomination concern that it’s drifting towards liberalism, whereas others concern a takeover by a faction that values ideological purity over all.

On the S.B.C.’s annual assembly this summer time, delegates hotly debated ladies’s roles in church management. The denomination voted in opposition to readmitting two church buildings that had appealed their expulsion for having ladies pastors. Delegates additionally took steps to amend the denomination’s structure to strengthen the ban on ladies as pastors, a transfer that will open up different lots of of church buildings to investigation and expulsions.

The manager committee, which has greater than 80 members, conducts enterprise for the denomination between its annual conferences. The chief government of the committee is taken into account extra highly effective in some ways than the denomination’s president, a extra high-profile however comparatively symbolic function.

Mr. McLaurin was the primary Black chief of one of many denomination’s “entities,” a class that features mission organizations, seminaries, a publishing firm and a public coverage arm. His ascension whilst an interim chief was touted as a historic milestone for the 178-year-old denomination, which was based as a defender of slavery. (The denomination apologized for its stance on slavery within the Nineties, and the variety of its ethnically numerous congregations has grown.)

Mr. McLaurin is the committee’s third chief in a row to step down in tumultuous circumstances. Ronnie Floyd, the earlier president, resigned over his objections to increasing the powers of investigators within the dealing with of sexual abuse claims within the denomination. Earlier than that, Frank Web page stepped down in 2018 over what the committee described on the time as a “morally inappropriate relationship.”

In a video circulated to Southern Baptists final week, Mr. McLaurin praised the work of the denomination’s pastors, academics and seminary professors. “It’s an ideal pleasure for me to be on this journey with you, as we carry excessive the identify and the celebrity of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Mr. McLaurin’s resignation suggests the denomination’s political and bureaucratic turmoil is way from over. At a gathering in Dallas this spring, the chief committee rejected its personal search committee’s advice for the subsequent chief, assembling a brand new search committee whose work is ongoing.

Mr. Robertson, the committee’s chair, stated in his assertion that the group would situation additional updates on its management search “within the close to future.” The manager committee’s subsequent assembly takes place in Nashville in September.

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