Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), announced his resignation today. He will serve in his current role through October 31.
Floyd’s resignation comes after the Executive Committee voted, after much debate, to waive attorney-client privilege for the independent investigation into how the Executive Committee has handled sexual-abuse allegations in the past. At the annual meeting in June, the convention approved a motion that demanded an independent investigation, and it stated that attorney-client privilege should be waived so investigators would have all the information they needed. Waiving privilege is an extraordinary measure, and the Executive Committee struggled for weeks to come to a resolution on whether to do it. They finally did vote to waive privilege, over Floyd’s objection.
“As President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, I have fiduciary
duties,” Floyd wrote in his resignation letter. “The decisions made on Tuesday afternoon, October 5th in response to the 2021 Convention now place our missionary enterprise as Southern Baptists into uncertain, unknown, unprecedented and uncharted waters. Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility entrusted to me, I will not and cannot any longer fulfill the duties placed upon me as the leader of the executive, fiscal, and fiduciary entity of the SBC.”
The question of waiving privilege put the SBC on the verge of a constitutional crisis. Constitutionally, decision-making power in the SBC originates solely with the messengers assembled in convention. The messengers clearly directed the Executive Committee to waive privilege. Had it not done so, it’s not clear what the next constitutional recourse would have been. Many pastors and state conventions had issued letters saying they were prepared to withhold funding for the denomination if the messengers were not obeyed.
Executive Committee members opposed to waiving privilege said the convention would be open to tremendous liability, and its mission work could be harmed. In his resignation letter, Floyd said that $702.6 million had been given to the denomination through various channels in the previous fiscal year. Members opposed to waiving privilege are concerned that plaintiffs in potential lawsuits could see that number as a huge target.
You can read the full letter and a write-up from Baptist Press here.