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Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee Announces Layoffs

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The administrative arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, its Executive Committee (EC), announced Wednesday (Sept. 13) that it would be laying off staff.

The unexpected move paints an uncertain financial picture for the organization despite the understanding that giving from member churches is up over the last year.

“Over the past few weeks our current leadership and officers met at length to determine various ways to most effectively steward the resources provided to us by Southern Baptist churches,” said EC Interim President Jonathan Howe in a statement. “As a result, our financial realities have led to an organizational restructuring and the reduction of staff and operational expenses.”

The cuts include the removal of five staff positions and two contracted positions, leaving 21 full time staff positions within the EC, according to Baptist Press.

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Financial troubles within the SBC have been brewing for some time. In February, EC members were informed of a $6 million loss in assets during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“Over the past few years, the EC has incurred significant expenses from investigations and legal fees,” said Mike Bianchi, the EC’s interim chief financial officer, in written comments for Baptist Press. “This has led to a substantial erosion of EC reserves, necessitating considerable expense reductions to avoid entirely depleting cash reserves.

“The adjustments are an important stopgap to extend the life of the cash reserves, but despite the expense reductions, the EC will still have to draw from reserves to cover ongoing investigation and legal expenses in the 2023-2024 budget,” Bianchi said.

The EC has been at the center of the clergy sex abuse crisis for the past few years. SBC messengers voted in 2021 to launch a task force to investigate accusations made against members of the EC for mishandling abuse allegations. The allegations also prompted the US Department of Justice to investigate.

Between these investigations and a number of lawsuits filed against the SBC, the organizations’ cash reserves have drained considerably. There are also questions of increased spending over the past six years. Financial records reflect that revenue for the EC is down 12% since 2017 while its expenditures have risen 82%.

Executive Committee members were already scheduled to meet in Nashville next week for matters of business, where they will vote on the next year’s SBC and EC operating budgets.

Main photo: The Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. / Photo courtesy of Baptist Press

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Daniel Ritchie

Daniel Ritchie is an evangelist, speaker and author from Wake Forest, NC. He has spoken nationally and internationally to churches, colleges, seminaries, conferences and professional sports teams. He is the author of two books - My Affliction for His Glory & Endure. He is a husband to Heather and daddy of two children.