The SBC Executive Committee's reserve fund has been cut in half in the last year. One auditor called it an "unsustainable" financial footing. Pastor Mike Stone of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Georgia, in a somewhat unusual move, is challenging sitting president Bart Barber (pictured above) only one year into Barber's term. Stone says the financial leadership has been lacking.
"That Executive Committee lost literally half of its liquid disposable assets in one single year, from $12 million in reserves down to $6 million in reserves," Stone tells AFN. "We've been lead in some directions that have literally taken our Executive Committee at the national level to the brink of a very dire financial situation – and so the hour is urgent.
Barber acknowledges that the auditors did say the EC's financial footing is unsustainable but points out the expenses have been because of several one-time expenditures. "This had to do with the response to several sexual abuse cases [in the SBC] that have happened from many years ago," he explains.
He says the bulk of the cost of the response to those allegations are taken care of through other donations, but the EC alone is responsible for the legal costs of defending several sex abuse lawsuits.
"The Executive Committee has been the one entity in our Convention that has had to bear the burden for the preponderance of this work that we've been doing on sexual abuse," Barber adds. He says the task now is to correct the mistakes of the past.
Two years ago, Stone ran unsuccessfully for SBC president. As The Christian Post points out, it is "unusual" for a sitting SBC president to face opposition for a second year of office. Stone announced last week that he had accepted the nomination to run against Barber.
Editor's note: This article is the first in a series leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, being held this year in New Orleans, June 11-14. The articles over the next few weeks will be dealing with the candidates running for SBC president, as well as financial issues facing the denomination.