Tenn. pastor, first African American, named to key SBC post

Feb 1, 2022, 1:39 PM | Updated: 3:01 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee pastor Willie McLaurin has been named interim president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, becoming the first African American to lead one of the denomination’s ministry entities in its more than 175-year history.

McLaurin’s appointment as one of the top administrators for the largest Protestant church body in the United States was announced Tuesday in Baptist Press, an official SBC news outlet. He 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.

“Our EC staff is committed to serving our Convention well. … My prayer is that we will continue to put a laser-sharp focus on cooperation and collaboration,” McLaurin told Baptist Press.

McLaurin, 48, will temporarily fill the post vacated by Ronnie Floyd in October. Floyd resigned amid turmoil over the Executive Committee’s handling of a third-party investigation into how the committee addressed sexual abuse reports. Several others also have stepped down from the body.

In a statement, McLaurin noted the work the Executive Committee is tasked with, including planning for the June meeting and continuing to cooperate with the task force overseeing the third-party investigation. The committee will also focus on assisting churches through “a posture of listening and learning,” he said.

McLaurin has served as the Executive Committee’s vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization since the post was created in 2020.

Due to internal rules, the seven officers who head up the committee comprising dozens of representatives were limited to naming an interim from among its current vice presidents. Recent resignations meant McLaurin was one of two options.

“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.”

He added that McLaurin will play an important part in repairing the committee’s reputation and restoring trust that eroded amid the recent turmoil.

The SBC, which has a predominantly white membership, has long struggled to reckon with its racist, pro-slavery history but has made some strides in recent decades. In 2012, the convention elected New Orleans pastor Fred Luter Jr. to be SBC president, making him the first African American to hold the role.

McLaurin is the first to head up one of the denomination’s ministry entities, which also include its publishing and public policy arms as well as its seminaries.

Slade, the first African American to serve as chairman of the Executive Committee, said the officers did not consider the historic milestone when selecting McLaurin.

McLaurin previously worked at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for 15 years and has held various pastoral roles for several churches. He also has served in state and national convention roles, including on the SBC Resolutions Committee, on the Tennessee Baptist Convention executive board, as president of the Black Southern Baptist Denominational Servants Network and with the African American Fellowship of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

McLaurin, who lives in Nolensville, in the greater Nashville area, assumes the new role immediately and is expected to deliver his first report as interim leader when the Executive Committee meets Feb. 21-22, Slade said.

At that gathering the Executive Committee also is expected to decide who will sit on a search committee tasked with naming a permanent president, Slade said.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


President Joe Biden waits for members of the press to leave after speaking at a meeting of the Whit...
Associated Press

Libertarian group sues to block student debt cancellation

A libertarian group in California filed a legal challenge to President Joe Biden’s plan for student debt cancellation on Tuesday, calling it an illegal overreach that would increase state tax burdens for some Americans who get their debt forgiven. The lawsuit, believed to be the first targeting Biden’s plan, was filed by the Pacific Legal […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

UN official warns of conflict, more poverty in Afghanistan

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A senior U.N. official warned Tuesday of a possible internal conflict and worsening poverty in Afghanistan if the Taliban don’t respond quickly to the needs of all elements of society, saying their crackdown on the rights of girls and women signals indifference to over 50% of Afghanistan’s population and a willingness […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Hawaii fines US Navy for unauthorized sewage release

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Health said Tuesday it has fined the U.S. Navy $8.8 million for repeatedly discharging untreated or partially treated sewage into state waters from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The department said in a news release that it recorded 766 counts of the Navy discharging pollutants in excess of limits […]
18 hours ago
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits Zojoji Temple on the day of the state funeral for former P...
Associated Press

VP Harris seeks computer chip partners in Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) — Armed with a new law that boosts U.S. support for computer chip manufacturing, Vice President Kamala Harris is seeking new investments and partnerships as she sits down with Japanese technology executives. Harris was meeting with the CEOs on her last full day in Tokyo on Wednesday, a reflection of the administration’s focus […]
18 hours ago
Chicago police respond to a shooting near the CPD Homan Square facility Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.  On...
Associated Press

Chicago police charge man who infiltrated SWAT training

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police filed eight felony counts Tuesday against a man who climbed five stories of a fire escape to infiltrate a police facility while officers were undergoing a SWAT training exercise. Donald Patrick, 47, of Waukegan was charged with five counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and three counts of […]
18 hours ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Tenn. pastor, first African American, named to key SBC post