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Ronnie Floyd Resigns as SBC Executive Committee President, Citing Damage to His Reputation

By Bob Smietana
Ronnie Floyd SBC Executive Committee
Ronnie Floyd speaks before presenting a gavel to President J.D. Greear on June 16, 2021, at the SBC annual meeting. (RNS photo by Kit Doyle)

Ronnie Floyd, the embattled president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee has resigned, effective at the end of October.

Floyd, a longtime Arkansas megachurch pastor, was elected as head of the Executive Committee in 2018, with high hopes of rallying the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to focus its energy on evangelism and missions.

But his plans were overshadowed by infighting among Southern Baptist leaders as well as controversies over racism and sexual abuse. In his resignation, Floyd said that his reputation was being harmed by serving as the committee’s president.

“In the midst of multiple challenges facing the SBC, I was asked to come here because of my proven personal integrity, reputation, and leadership,” he said in his resignation letter, which was made public Thursday (October 14).  “What was desired to be leveraged for the advancement of the Gospel by those who called me here, I will not jeopardize any longer because of serving in this role.”

His letter cited a recent decision made by the Executive Committee to waive attorney-client privilege in an investigation into the SBC leadership’s handling of sexual abuse claims as a reason for leaving. That decision would remove confidentiality between Executive Committee staff and members and allow an outside firm to review them.  

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During this summer’s annual meeting in Nashville, local church delegates, known as messengers, instructed the committee to waive privilege if asked to do so. But Floyd and a number of committee members balked, saying that waiving privilege could open the SBC up to lawsuits and financial harm.

He repeated his opposition to waiving privilege in his resignation letter. That decision, he said,  left the Southern Baptists in “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,” he said. “In the midst of deep disappointment and discouragement, we have to make this decision by our own choice and do so willingly, because there is no other decision for me to make.”

Floyd repeated his disdain for sexual abuse and said that as a pastor and father and grandfather, he wanted he cares “deeply about the protection of all people.” He also defended committee members who opposed waiving privilege and said that many were forced to resign when they were outvoted. 

“One of the most grievous things for me personally has been the attacks on myself and the trustees as if we are people who only care about ‘the system.’ Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

His resignation came a day after a group of Executive Committee members sent a letter asking the group’s chairman, California pastor Rolland Slade, to call a special meeting to fill a vacancy among the committee’s officers and to discuss “issues of leadership and trust among the committee, officers, and executive staff.”

Dean Inserra, an Executive Committee member and pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, called Floyd’s resignation sad and unfortunate. Inserra was one of a group of committee members who advocated for waiving privilege and found themselves at odds with Floyd.

The committee deadlocked over the issue for several weeks, during which time a series of Southern Baptist leaders — including the heads of the denomination’s seminaries – to call for the committee to follow the will of messengers.

“There could have been a different outcome if he had done the right thing,” he said.

Floyd was the longtime pastor of Cross Church, a congregation of about 9,000 based in Arkansas and is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

The denomination’s longtime lawyers have cut ties with the Southern Baptist Committee, citing the decision to waive privilege.

A spokesperson for the Executive Committee said Floyd would not give interviews or comment about his resignation. 

Ronnie Floyd’s Resignation Letter:

Ronnie Floyd’s Resignation Letter

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service. 




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7 Responses

  1. I’m hearing so much from the leaders and lawyers regarding waiving privilege, but what about the victims? Have any of them spoken out against any of this? I’m having a hard time believing that victims wouldn’t be relieved to finally be taken seriously and listened to.
    When an organization has cancer, you don’t ignore the illness because it might be uncomfortable to treat. I imagine Mr, Floyd’s resignation letter will make a whole lot more sense once the investigation occurs.

  2. “But Floyd and a number of committee members balked, saying that waiving privilege could open the SBC up to lawsuits and financial harm.” His concern is clearly the system.

    A correct response from him would have been, “let the whole system crumble if need be for the sake of the truth of abuse cases coming into the light.”

  3. Good! One less obstacle to justice. You’d be hard pressed to find Jesus siding with a religious corporation rather than abused children!!

  4. Floyd must be very guilty of something in order to give up all of that power plus the over half a million dollar salary and benefits! One thought that comes to my mind while those who know they are guilty as the Devil quit is this: by quitting do these people retain the privilege that they were fighting not to lose? Are current members all waiving that while former ones are not? So that by quitting they will keep all of what they did in the dark? This is a question I have not seen answered anywhere.

  5. A further complexity might be, that twp parties are involved in attorney-client privilege. If members or former-members of the SBC EC decline to reveal what they shared with attorneys, are attorneys then bound in any way to comply with waiving this privilege.
    Given that the third-party messenger-mandated investigation begins with no legal powers, it would seem that a court process would be needed to compel client or attorney to comply with this waiver. If the attorney in question is the person who has recently resigned, could that one attorney scupper this whole waiver matter.

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