This weekend, the leadership of First Baptist Church Naples gave the congregation a little more information about the election process of senior pastor candidate Marcus Hayes. The leadership acknowledged that “race played a part in the final days leading up to” the vote in which Hayes failed to gain the necessary votes. Now, the leadership of FBCN have expressed that another factor may have compromised the vote.
“The integrity of our election last weekend was compromised,” the chairman of FBCN’s senior pastor search committee, Neil Dorrill, told the congregation on Saturday, November 2, 2019.
As ChurchLeaders reported last week, Hayes preached at FBCN the weekend of October 26-27, and a record number of church members turned out to vote on whether or not to elect him as the church’s next senior pastor. Hayes, who currently serves at Biltmore Church in Asheville, North Carolina, garnered 81 percent of the vote. The church’s constitution and bylaws state that a candidate must receive 85 percent of the vote before they are to be hired. In a letter to congregants following that vote, the church leadership stated “racial prejudice was introduced into our voting process.”
Now, the church leadership is offering another piece of information. Dorrill explained that last week, after Hayes preached at the Saturday evening service, two members of the counting committee leaked confidential early voting results to a lay leader in the church who then used that information to compromise the voting process. Dorrill did not give specific details about how the lay leader used the information to compromise the voting process. At the time of this article’s publishing, FBCN had not responded to ChurchLeaders’ request for comment.
FBCN Still Wants Marcus Hayes on Their Staff
Dorrill said that despite all the strange things that have been going on internally during the voting process, the search committee believes Hayes “remains the man that we believe God has called to be our next pastor.” When Dorrill made this remark, the congregation applauded and nearly the entire sanctuary rose to its feet. Dorrill also thanked the congregation for making the Hayes family feel welcome during their visit and said that the committee has received over 450 emails expressing support for Hayes.
The search committee is hoping that Hayes will allow “his name to be reconsidered” as either the church’s next senior pastor or their interim pastor.
Last week, the letter sent to the congregation expressed concern for Hayes and his family, who “endured” what they called a racist campaign against Hayes. At this weekend’s service, Dorrill did not elaborate on what led the church leadership to believe such a campaign had been launched against Hayes, but he reiterated that they believe such a campaign occurred.
“Church leadership does not believe that all who voted ‘no’ did so based on race,” Dorrill clarified. “But it is undeniable that race played a part in the final days leading up to this election,” he said.
He also said that those involved in violating the church’s covenant by “causing dissension, disruption, and spreading of misinformation” would be subject to “disciplinary action.” In fact, he indicated, such church discipline is currently underway.
The entire congregation stood on its feet and applauded when Dorrill said “racism has no part in the body of Christ and never more so than First Baptist Naples.”