Editor’s note: Evangelical Dark Web has not done a DarkLinks since June. It was decided that this was the best format to explain this story because we wanted to give credit to people like Will Hall credit for their reporting while also providing our own commentary.
The Alaska Baptist Resource Network has voted to divest its funding to the North America Mission Board. For this story, the Baptist Press reported on this same action without providing the motivation of the ABRN. And that is some fake news. Will Hall has done an excellent job reporting on this continuing story.
By Will Hall @ Baptist Message
VANCOUVER, Wash. (LBM) – Executive directors representing five Western state conventions and a Midwestern one have written a passionate letter, Aug. 12, 2020, addressed to Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and his trustees, as well as the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and its president, Ronnie Floyd, repudiating what they describe as a lack of partnership in the new “Strategic Cooperative Agreement” that NAMB presented to “non-South Baptist state conventions, dated June 26-30, 2020.”
The six leaders include Randy Adams (Northwest Baptist Convention), Bill Agee (California Southern Baptist Convention), Joe Bunce (Baptist Convention of New Mexico), Randy Covington (Alaska Baptist Resource Network), Jack Kwok (State Convention of Baptists in Ohio) and Chris Martin (Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention).
Saying “we work most effectively when working in collaboration and harmony, especially in our non-South states where the local context and cultures of our mission fields can vary so significantly,” they described NAMB as becoming increasingly centralized and unilateral in its strategies and relationships with state conventions, adding “we are convinced the results reveal diminished fruitfulness, and guidelines. In spite of this, we have greatly reduced staff and state-directed ministry to provide Cooperative Program funds to the national SBC.”
They specifically objected that the new agreement “leaves state conventions with little or no role in the assessment, supervision, or evaluation of church planters or statewide personnel” and that “evangelism funding through state conventions has been frozen since mid-March.”
By Will Hall @ Baptist Message
The Aug. 17 reply from NAMB officers, Danny de Armas, chairman and associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Orlando, Florida, Eric J. Thomas, vice chairman and pastor, First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Virginia, and William L. Rice, second vice chairman and pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater, Florida, was dismissive.
“You have correctly identified that we are more focused (centralized) and directive in our strategies, personnel and funding,” they wrote. “We’re not sure you could make a more complimentary accusation of us!”
Continuing their defense of NAMB’s unilateral approach to non-South state conventions, the three trustee officers implied concern about state use of the money in question, thus requiring a new agreement.
BY WILL HALL @ BAPTIST MESSAGE
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (LBM)—Messengers to the annual meeting of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network, Sept. 28-30, approved a motion that will remove the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention from its Cooperative Program budget in 2022 and retain those funds to support state missions and ministries “until such time there is a collaborative, cooperative and mutually agreed upon strategy” with that national entity.
The action by Alaska Baptists, which will impact 22.79 percent of $156,171 of their annual contributions to national causes through CP (based on 2019 numbers), is the most drastic step taken, to date, by a state convention against NAMB which had an annual budget of $131 million in 2019 that included $50 million that used to be spent in partnership with state conventions.
By Ray Fava @ Evangelical Dark Web 03/25/2020
One, Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board is unhappy with the criticisms articulated by Randy Adams. If this is the case, this is thin-skinned petty politics, defunding those who seek to improve the system. It is always a bad sign when trusted institutions reject transparency.
Alternatively this could be a matter of what goes on behind closed doors in smoked filled rooms. Randy Adams is running against Al Mohler for President of the SBC. Al Mohler and Kevin Ezell are very well acquainted. Al Mohler is the establishment candidate while Randy Adams is the grassroots candidate. This very well could be an establishment move to punish for trying to challenge Al Mohler. Now it’s important to note that there is no evidence of Mohler ordering a “code red” to cut funding to NWBC, nor does there need to be for this to be a valid scenario since Kevin Ezell was a senior pastor to Mohler, so it is conceivable that he would act alone on this manner. This could be Ezell’s sole initiative.
Either way, his decision is in poor taste done for undoubtedly unbiblical reasons. The timing leaves little wiggle room for coincidence. I’ve been writing a lot about the elitism of Big Eva, yet this instance stands out for the pettiness of elitism is at the expense of the Great Commission.
It appears the commentary offered on March 25th has not aged well because Kevin Ezell, the head of NAMB, has applied his strategy of creating state-level competitors to the mission outreach to other non-south state conventions. This has proved a disastrous strategy for relations with certain state level conventions. Understandably, the western state level conventions would not welcome the completely mismanaged organization taking over missions operations and church planting in their state with no accountability. After all, NAMB gave very preferential treatment to Steven Furtick in launching Elevation. The churches planted by NAMB in the non-south would have little oversight if NAMB were to plant such a church with such a teacher.
While Kevin Etzell may not have been vindictive against Randy Adams, it’s clear that his recent actions may be corrupt for other reasons, just like how all the other money NAMB has that’s been misspent.