Former SBC state leader charges mission board with 'cover-up of wrongdoing'

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |

ST. LOUIS (Christian Examiner) – Decrying what he sees as a "cover-up of wrongdoing" in regards to actions by North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell by board trustees, Will McRaney, the former executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, said June 14 that "votes by any group will not change the unimpeachable truth."

McRaney made the comments to the Christian Examiner following a June 13 vote by NAMB trustees to unanimously approve a recommendation indicating their satisfaction with a "thorough examination and review" of the Southern Baptist entity's relationship with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network (MABN).

Ezell earlier this year McRaney and other state convention leaders suggested Ezell abused his leadership role by tying financial incentives to missions strategies – and when displeased would threaten to withdraw support that could have a devastating effect on particular mission efforts.

After a two-hour closed session June 13, trustees announced that following their investigation of issues between NAMB leadership and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network – without naming either Ezell or McRaney – the matter had been "concluded."

Will McRaney

"Representatives of this Board have conducted a thorough examination and review of the dealings between NAMB leadership and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network and have fully reported those findings to the full Board of Trustees, who discussed the findings at length and considered them when making this recommendation," the Board was told as a part of background information before the vote.

"In addition, the trustees were kept informed about challenges regarding the relationship between NAMB and MABN as the challenges developed, and NAMB's executive leadership sought input from the chairman and other officers of this Board regarding such challenges," the recommendation read.

No other specifics were given in the recommendation, which drew strong applause from the board.

Will McRaney earlier this year posted an extensive number of documents related to the issues he raised, including emails, agreements, and narratives by him and others.

In addition, other state executives told Christian Examiner of feeling pressured by NAMB employees and by Ezell to conform to particular ways of doing things or else lose funding.

McRaney said despite the unanimous vote of trustees meeting just prior to the SBC, "documented facts fully support each accusation I made."

"The facts are fully documented, witness testified, and unimpeachable," McRaney said. "This is not a personality conflict, it is a conflict of truth before our holy God and Southern Baptists."

McRaney, who previously served as a leader with the Florida Baptist Convention, urged Southern Baptists to investigate on their own, by reading through the documents he said he posted on his website after six failed attempts to speak with Ezell and then trustees.

"Southern Baptists entrust their hearts, sons and daughters and financial resources to the North American Mission Board and its leaders," McRaney said. "Dr. Ezell's actions demonstrate his willingness to threaten and damage both individuals and state convention leaders and then cover matters up with lies and denials of wrongdoing."

Randy Adams, the executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, told Christian Examiner in an interview in May he has previously serve as a trustee for a Southern Baptist entity and in his opinion the board of trustees should address specifics of the allegations.

"I trust Will," Adams said.

"To me the accusations are very serious allegations and the specifics of those allegations, I think, require a response," Adams said.

In a ?Feb. 5 response to McRaney's charges, which he shared with trustees and eventually with the public, NAMB board chairman Chuck Herring had initially indicated a desire to keep the matter internal, however McRaney released the response on his personal website months ago.

Herring wrote in his response, "Rather than engage in a line-by-line rebuttal of Dr. McRaney's portrayals of how Kevin and other NAMB leadership navigated through this challenging situation, it is sufficient to say that his letter is both factually inaccurate and misleading."

McRaney June 14 told Christian Examiner he believes that he has been wronged along with the MD/DE Convention and others, and that a court would agree. "I hope NAMB trustees will make things right with me becuase of the Bible," he said, however, instead "of being forced to do so by law."

"I am prayerful that NAMB trustees will fully support an independent investigation in addition to conducting an investigation that enhances the goodwill and trust of Southern Baptists," McRaney said.

"We need men and women to fear God, not just fear the court," he said.

NAMB is one of just a few SBC entities that does not allow media access to committee meetings, opening the doors to plenary sessions where most voting takes place without discussion.