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.


Lead water pipes pulled from underneath the street are seen in Newark, N.J., Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Pho...

Associated Press

Biden to require cities to replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly.

16 hours ago

Dignitaries, including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, center, break ground on the new ...

Associated Press

Work resumes on $10B renewable energy transmission project in southwestern Arizona despite tribal objections

Federal land managers briefly halted work on the SunZia transmission line earlier this month after Native American tribes raised concerns.

17 hours ago

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2...

Associated Press

Meta shuts down thousands of fake Facebook accounts that were primed to polarize voters ahead of 2024

Meta said it removed 4789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States before next year’s election.

18 hours ago

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

5 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

9 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

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