The Executive Committee Form Letter and Appropriate Action

Last week, I wrote about the questions and concerns Southern Baptists are having about the Executive Committee and encouraged them to contact them, sincerely expressing their thoughts, concerns, and questions in particular about the forced resignation of Clark Logan. Since last week, the link to the Executive Committee members has had nearly 250 click throughs, and some who wrote letters were kind enough to send me carbon copy.  The letters I read were thoughtful, careful, and respectful, and I appreciate those who took the time to write in such a praiseworthy manner.

Unfortunately, the Executive Committee has drafted a form letter with a generic response that I am posting in its entirety.  Read it, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.  Is the Executive Committee providing such a response for legal cover?  What are we to think when even their own members were unaware of what happened to Clark Logan?  Is this another disappointing move in the wrong direction in order to avoid being accountable, transparent, and forthright with Southern Baptists? Is this generic response indicative that the Executive Committee officers are listening to the voice of Southern Baptists and giving appropriate attention to such an important (and public) matter?

Dear __________:

Thank you for your email note to the Executive Committee.  The Southern Baptist Convention elects 83 godly men and women to serve on its Executive Committee.  This year, the men and women on this committee come from 34 states.  It is composed of 44 pastors and other church staff, including the President of the Convention, four associational directors of missions, five attorneys, and a host of other godly laymen and women.  The members of the Executive Committee establish policies and assign responsibilities to Executive Committee staff, including its President, Dr. Morris Chapman.

As Dr. Chapman noted in his response to an email inquiry from the Florida Baptist Witness on July 7, all personnel matters that affect the Executive Committee and/or its employees follow established policy.  The Executive Committee believes it is only fair to our employees and the right way to do business to keep employment matters private.

While we are glad to respond to this question, our primary mission is to tell the “Good News” about Jesus.  Scripture teaches that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day.  It is our hope and prayer that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said it this way, “For by grace you are saved through faith.”  If you have already received Jesus Christ as your Lord, we rejoice with you.  If, however, you do not know Jesus, we invite you to receive Him by faith — to find His cleansing from sin and His transforming power in your life.  A hymn writer has said it well, “Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.”  How true!

Office of Convention Relations
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN   37203
(615) 244-2355

While we are on the topic of listening to the voice of Southern Baptists, I want to juxtapose this response with that of Johnny Hunt, president of the SBC, regarding the makeup of the GCR Task Force.  I, along with others, expressed disappointment in the lack of diversity in the 18-member task force, and Johnny Hunt did an honorable thing considering and changing the composition of the task force by adding four new members (a woman, Hispanic, and representatives from western and northeast U.S.).  Hunt’s action reveals a leader who is not only in touch with the concerns of Southern Baptists but recognizes that he serves and represents their voice.

I think the kind of transparency, humility, and accountability in the leadership of Hunt compared to the inaction and unresponsiveness of the Executive Committee is quite telling. Perhaps the EC is hoping that prolonging any disclosure will alleviate the pressure as Southern Baptists will eventually forget about all that has transpired.  This scenario kind of reminds me of instances where necessary church discipline has been substituted for a probationary period as a means of punishment.  The appropriate action (redemptive accountability and gospel humility) inevitably gets replaced by perpetual inaction (delay and denial) with the hopes, after a period of time, becomes appropriate action. Silence is not the answer.

Southern Baptists have attempted to raise concerns, but the Executive Committee can offer nothing better than an impersonal, generic letter at this time.  If they don’t deem the voice of Southern Baptists worth hearing, then what recourse do we have? And where is Baptist Press in all of this?  Writing articles about American Idol going to church?

Really?

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21 Comments on “The Executive Committee Form Letter and Appropriate Action”


  1. Though I do not know Clark Logan, I am concerned over the way that this situation has been handled. If all parties involved agree that there was no wrong-doing on the part of Clark Logan, then the act of secrecy seems unjustified. If there was no wrong-doing and Clark Logan is as qualified and dignified as Mr. Chapman says, then we who pay his salary are entitled to know why he was asked/forced to resign.


    • Craig,

      I believe you framed the issue in a very poignant manner. All we know to this point that Logan was (1) forced to resign and (2) there was no sufficient warrant for doing so at this time. If there was, it should be made known, but the silence and secrecy seems to implicate the Executive Committee as having done something which they are unwilling to bring to the public eye.

  2. Fran Says:

    Yep, got the same generic response from the EC as well.

    While I understand the need for privacy in personnel matters by the EC, there is a burden of responsibility for the EC to be more transparent in regards to the change of a senior member of the staff. This will have an impact in the level of support that churches in our convention will have for EC initiated activities and reports.

    Since this is all counter productive to the spirit of the GCR, I say to the EC to be more forthcoming on this issue. After that, let’s make changes to organizational barriers that interfere with the gospel and move ahead to our mission of reaching and teaching.


    • Since this is all counter productive to the spirit of the GCR, I say to the EC to be more forthcoming on this issue. After that, let’s make changes to organizational barriers that interfere with the gospel and move ahead to our mission of reaching and teaching.

      Amen. Couldn’t agree more.

      I’m afraid their solution is the mere passing of time, but I hope I’m wrong. Failure to address the issue can never be said to address the issue. The sooner this is dealt with, the better and more focused we will be on the Great Commission. But as it stands, this stumbling block is one large enough that we cannot hide away in our skeleton closet.

  3. Steven Says:

    Brothers:
    I share your frustration with the lack of detail from the Executive Committee. I, like many of you, am a younger Southern Baptist that would like to see less polarization within the Convention and a greater emphasis on the one thing that unites us: sharing the Gospel. To this end we should possibly read the Executive Committee’s response a bit more humbly because I do believe that it is making a subtle point.
    Many of us have written letters to the members of the Executive Committee concerning our dismay, sadness and indeed anger over this matter. We have also written many blog posts, comments, tweets and emails concerning the same. I, to my shame, have not shown near as much dismay, sadness and anger over the fact that there are people on my street that need to hear the Gospel and I have neglected to share it with them.
    In the form response, the Executive Committee states “While we are glad to respond to this question, our primary mission is to tell the ‘Good News’ about Jesus.” I cannot help but feel that we might be briefly losing sight of this primary mission because of the sad events surrounding Bro. Clark’s resignation. I am not suggesting for a moment that we should mute our outrage over this matter. We should not, however, allow these events to distract us. If we do, we become the thing that we are rallying against: a people so caught up in focusing on polarizing issues that we neglect our Great Commission.
    My pastor used to say “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I think that we need to heed these words and the wise counsel of Dr. Mohler during the Convention when he said “Give time and let us reason together.” Let’s be patient in our determination, knowing that things might not go as smoothly as we would prefer. But let’s not lose sight of the main thing.


    • Steven,

      If the Executive Committee believes that we should be sharing the gospel, great. However, using a passing gospel presentation as a cover from addressing the issues raised is, well, not so great. In fact, I would argue that their actions are not in line with the gospel, and it is equally important that we uphold the gospel in our conduct as we do in our proclamation (see Gal. 2 where Paul confronts Peter for an example).

      I don’t see how it is either/or but rather Scripture argues for both/and. I appreciation your words of exhortation, but I believe that a failure to bring accountability on these issues manifests a superficial commitment to the integrity of the Southern Baptist Convention and sets a precedent for future denominational leaders to freely act in ways contrary to the gospel and the will of churches of the SBC.

      • Steven Says:

        Bro. Timmy:
        I agree with you that we should not permit the Executive Committee to use a “gospel presentation as a cover from addressing the issues raised.” I believe that the Executive Committee’s inclusion of the Gospel (if its words can even be deemed such) was an attempt to cover. I also believe that it was a rebuke to us in this regard: we rally against being distracted by non-Gospel issues, and we are getting distracted by a non-Gospel issue.

        I think that it is a stretch to say that Bro. Clark’s resignation and the call for transparency in personnel issues is equivalent to Paul rebuking Peter for shunning Gentiles when prominent Jews were around. When Peter started acting differently when different people were around, that caused great confusion among the Christians in Galatia and undercut Paul’s message of salvation through faith alone. I doubt that there will be an adverse reaction when we preach the Gospel because Bro. Clark resigned without full disclosure of the reasons why. It might be poor denominational polity, but it is not a part of the Gospel.

        That being said, I agree (and advocate above) that we should not relent in our pressure for open disclosure. You are absolutely correct that we should vigorously pursue both the truth with regard to Bro. Clark and the proclamation of the Gospel without one impeding our ability and desire for the other. I am not saying that our pursuit of the truth with regard to Bro. Clark is impeding our ability and our desire to proclaim the Gospel; I am just warning that we take a step back and ensure that it is not. Let’s make sure that one man (Bro. Clark) is not justified before many (all of us), but that many are justified before God through the words that we preach.


        • Steven,

          Amen. This should not distract us from the passion of our lives–the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that, should you taken into account the bulk of my writings, that is where i hope to direct our attention. Thanks for your constructive and edifying comments.

  4. Clint Wagnon Says:

    I got the same response. Disappointing. With Christianity Today carrying the story yesterday, the EC’s silence is even more deafening.

    This is very poor management. It seems the EC is just waiting it out so they can get back to business as usual. Why won’t the trustees act?

  5. Kevin Griggs Says:

    In reference to the letter, did anyone read it how I read it? They turn the focus from them to the recipient. The letter is lacking fluidity.It is perceived by me that they are flippantly using the gospel by loosely interjecting it(really making mockery of it) as either to fill up space in the body of the letter or really used as a subtle rebuke towards inquirers for not “making the good news as our primary” focus because we show concern for how Logan and EC controversy has gone down, as if requesting information from the EC = not being gospel-focused.
    I’m not saying they were/are not sincere; I’m merely saying that I didn’t perceive sincerity in their letter, especially with regards to their use of the “good news.” My perception has been off before 🙂
    Thank you, Timmy, for keeping us posted on developments.

    kevin


    • Kevin,

      What you perceived about the letter and in particular their employment of the gospel, is what several of the people first noticed and were bothered about. So I would say that your perception was not that off.

  6. Steve Says:

    I will keep praying for Dr Chapman that he is convicted by the Spirit and will bring these issues to light so that they can handled appropriately. I will also pray that no matter how long these things stay a secret that all Southern Baptist continue to send them letters and pray for the EC and to never give up hope that this will in the end be resolved and we can can continue to serve the Lord and handle his Word and Gospel accurately. I am very grateful for the leadership of Johnny Hunt. I do believe that through his leadership and the will of our Lord that this issue will be resolved and will be done so with grace and dignity. My prayers go out to all, because we are all effected by this. Thank you for this article. It is well written and gets the message out for the need of this issue to be resolved.


    • Amen Steve. I echo those sentiments and exhortations to pray for Chapman and this whole matter. There are no winners here, and we need to pray that God will vindicate the truth and bring reconciliation where needed as well as reform where needed.

  7. stephenleecavness Says:

    timmy,
    in your follow up to the first commenter, you wrote;

    “All we know to this point that Logan was (1) forced to resign and (2) there was no sufficient warrant for doing so.”

    we have logan’s own words to confirm #1- but what basis do we have for your second assertion? perhaps you meant “we haven’t yet been given a sufficient warrant…”?

    -stephen cavness


    • Stephen,

      Perhaps so. Given that (a) many of the EC members were totally unaware of what had happened and that (b) the EC refuses to explain the reason for Logan’s termination, I am willing to assume that sufficient warrant was not had.

      Chapman has the right to fire an employee, but should not the rest of the EC be briefed on what happened prior to the termination? And should Logan be terminated for poor job performance or inability to fulfill expectations, should Logan have not received prior notifications or leading indications that his termination was on the horizon? Yet neither Chapman nor Logan indicated that this was the eventual outcome of a process but rather the abrupt, sudden termination of which Chapman misled the public from the beginning (Logan resigned rather than Chapman forcing Logan to resign by the end of the day).

      • stephenleecavness Says:

        timmy,

        i am all for proper transparency and handling of such matters, but i just want to make sure that we (younger s.b.c.’ers) do not give merit to accusations of spreading speculation as fact. we should never fear pursuing the truth, but we should be wary of asserting what we *think* is truth as truth, before we *know* it is truth.

        also, i would think it would be worth checking into the job descriptions and duties of e.c. members who are elected/appointed as representatives vs. those who are paid e.c. staff. there may be reasons why reps wouldn’t know but paid staff would. has anyone checked w/ paid staff (aside from the e-mail inquiries)?
        -stephen


  8. […] Tim Brister at Provocations and Pantings, reacts against the form letter sent out by the EC to those who have contacted EC members in regards to […]

  9. Todd Pruitt Says:

    Timmy,

    Thanks for being on this.

    The affection and support that Johnny Hunt is receiving from many young and Reformed Southern Baptists is a reminder that we do not all demand that all our fellows or even leaders be Reformed. Trustworthiness will do just fine.

    Also, the form letter from the EC was interesting. To me the subtext was, “We’re too busy doing evangelism to bother with your concern at this time.”

    troubling

    • Fran Says:

      Amen, amen, and amen. I have been following this thread all day and have enjoyed the discussion.

      It’s not really a reformed/non-reformed issue, but an integrity issue. If you believe the Word, then act like it.

  10. Chuck Bryce Says:

    Several thoughts
    :
    I agree we do deserve more information. On the other hand I can also understand the difficult position the XCOM is in on this matter. In my work I have always been guided to refuse to speak with anyone other than the individual or their designated legal representative concerning details of their dismissal. In some cases when a terminated/dismissed/resigned associate made public statements we were then free to respond to those statements. I suspect that the same is true for the XCOM. Until or unless Bro. Logan makes a more revealing statement legal counsel and/or policy may dictate that the XCOM remain silent. I don’t like this but it may be the right way to do things legally and possibly prudently as we don’t know any other details.

    I wonder if the terms of Bro. Logan’s resignation dictate that he is unable to share anything other than what has been said? I truly wish we had the answers to this forced resignation.

    I have not seen anything concerning what Bro. Logan’s desires are in this. Is there someone out there who is a close enough friend to him with enough “pull” or influence to be able to tell all of us whether we need to keep pursuing this or we need to shut up. Granted, the list of people who could tell all of us in the twittersphere to shut up and we would actually trust them is probably a short one! ;>)

    Finally, two things I see as undeniably true. First, the “Gospel presentation” portion of the letter is embarrassing. Whoever wrote that wouldn’t know missional if it bit them in the baptistry. Second, the absence of Baptist Press on this is inexcusable. If this is the reporting we get they need to take their flannel graph and go home.


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