Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TURMOIL CONTINUES IN NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD:
GEOFF HAMMOND RESIGNS FOLLOWING TRUSTEE MEETING

Two years ago, the Board of Trustees of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) believed God wanted them to hire Geoff Hammond as president of the agency. He was hired by a unanimous vote. Today they decided they were wrong.

Rumors have been flying for a week or so that a movement was being orchestrated by certain trustees to get rid of Hammond. Today Hammond and three associates resigned after a specially called trustee meeting that went on for seven hours. The board met in executive session, which is political speak for in private, so no one will know the tenor of the discussion unless it is leaked. It seems there are two things you can always count on in SBC agencies. First, they will be in continuous political turmoil. Second, they will meet in secret and not reveal who did what to whom. This particular meeting was first set to include only the executive committee of the board, but other members of the board found out about the agenda and demanded a meeting of the full board. Whether all the Southern Baptists who send money to the NAMB for its operations will ever learn why its representatives took this drastic action is questionable.

Certainly the NAMB intends to keep its secrets. Tim Patterson, Chairman, North American Mission Board, Board of Trustees, issued a statement saying that the men had resigned and the usual drivel about how it is a hard time for them, then ended with “I will not have any further comments for the media tonight, but we will be sharing more information with you very soon.” ( In other words, we will not say anything until we get together and decide how to present it.) Interestingly, Patterson made complimentary statements about Hammond at a commissioning service this May. Were those statements not true? Did Patterson change his mind within the last two months?

Patterson also said this about Hammond: "[he is one] who for the past two years has led NAMB with a steady, efficient and effective hand. He has consistently sounded the clarion call that North America is a mission field. And he has done all this with a Christ-like attitude that I have had the privilege to witness firsthand."

The NAMB trustees also unanimously approved a resolution describing NAMB as "an efficient and effective Southern Baptist entity that takes seriously the good stewardship of the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars entrusted to us by Southern Baptists."

The three staff members who resigned are Dennis Culbreth, senior assistant to the president; Steve Reid, senior associate to the president for strategy development; and Brandon Pickett, communications team leader.

Hammond was highly touted by the Board and other prominent people in SBC life. He is a son and grandson of missionaries and was a missionary himself. He had been a church planter for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia Convention. He also had an administrative role with that convention. He has also been a pastor, a seminary professor and a director of missions. .

The Board's president search committee recommended him after a nine month search. They billed that search as “intensive”. The search committee chairman, Greg Faulls, said “Dr. Hammond has proven himself to be a successful leader, strategist and practitioner in church planting missions and evangelism throughout his ministry career. Hammond understands missions at every level. He has proven skills and experience planting churches and strategically directing church planting in associations and a state convention. He is gifted in leadership and adept in the areas of business administration. He is bilingual and has a grasp of the complexity and diversity of the harvest field and clearly understands the importance and dynamics of NAMB’s relationships with her state partners. In addition, he is fully supportive of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

Faulls had stated in the beginning they were determined to seek God's man.

When Faulls announced the decision to present Hammond, he invoked God's approval by saying "We were so moved by the hand of God through the process concerning Dr. Hammond that we are presenting a recommendation to you unanimously as a committee-a true unanimous recommendation from our committee." If they were moved by the hand of God, how could they make a mistake that had to be corrected after only two years.

What is going on at NAMB? Is the Board micro managing the agency so severely that the only way to survive is to be a puppet for the Board? It has not been that long since Bob Reccord came and went in the same position. Is it that the Board is incompetent to judge good character?

Regardless, the Board is again without executive leadership and floundering. How can we hope to reach North America with the gospel through an agency that cannot manage it business. And how can we ask Southern Baptists across America to give money to such an agency?
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