Willie McLaurin, former Executive Committee VP, steps in four months after Ronnie Floyd’s resignation.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee has appointed Willie McLaurin to serve as interim president and CEO, marking the first time that any entity of the predominantly white denomination has been headed by a Black person.
McLaurin was named just over two years ago as the committee’s vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization, a new role meant to focus on spreading the gospel and fostering relations with various demographic groups of Southern Baptists.
Prior to his work for the Executive Committee, McLaurin worked at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for 15 years and previously held pastoral roles in churches in that state.
The Executive Committee, headquartered in Nashville, has recently faced turmoil over racism, allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims, and debates about how much access investigators hired to report on those claims will have to past conversations and other denominational communications.
Ronnie Floyd, the committee’s former president and CEO, resigned in October, citing the committee’s decision to waive attorney-client privilege in the investigation as a reason for his departure. The denomination’s longtime general counsel cut ties with the SBC and at least 10 committee members also resigned, citing similar reasons.
“We hope that he will help us to reset the tone by which the EC serves Southern Baptists,” said California pastor Rolland Slade, the Executive Committee chairman, in a statement about McLaurin in Baptist Press, the SBC’s news service. “Immediately before us is the challenge to regain the sense of trust of Southern Baptists.”