Home Christian News Southern Baptists Elect Jeff Iorg To Lead Executive Committee

Southern Baptists Elect Jeff Iorg To Lead Executive Committee

Jeff Iorg
Jeff Iorg speaks at Gateway Seminary in Oct. 2023. (Video screen grab)

(RNS) — After more than two years of uncertainty and at times, chaos, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee has a new president.

At a special meeting in Dallas, members of the committee — which oversees the work of the 13 million-member denomination in between its annual meetings — unanimously elected Jeff Iorg as its new president and CEO. The meeting was held in executive session, and Iorg’s election was announced in the early afternoon on Thursday (March 21).

Iorg, long-time president of Gateway Seminary, a Southern Baptist school in Ontario, California, is well respected in Southern Baptist circles for his steady and low-key approach to leadership. In a press conference following his election, Iorg said he would focus on earning trust in his new role.

“Organizational trust is earned by two things: sacrificial service and demonstrated competence,” said Iorg, 65, who will begin his new role in May, after Gateway’s school year ends. You don’t gain trust by asking people to trust you. You gain trust by doing the right thing, serving sacrificially and demonstrating competence. And people trust organizations that do that.

Iorg is the Executive Committee’s first permanent leader since 2021 and its third since 2018. His predecessor, Ronnie Floyd, resigned in October 2021 after a two-year tenure overshadowed by the SBC’s sexual abuse crisis. Floyd’s predecessor, Frank Page, resigned in 2018 for misconduct.

Finding a new leader for the committee was an arduous process.

Committee members had hoped to approve a different candidate — Georgia Baptist leader Thomas Hammond — in February, but Hammond withdrew at the last moment. In May of 2023, the committee voted down Texas pastor Jared Wellman, a former Executive Committee trustee, as a candidate for the top job. Some trustees had been concerned that Wellman had served as chair of the Executive Committee and was on the search committee before becoming a candidate.

Willie McLaurin, an interim leader for the committee, had been considered for the permanent job but resigned last fall after the search committee discovered he had falsified his resume, claiming degrees he did not earn.

Jonathan Howe, who has served as interim Executive Committee leader, will remain in that role until May, when Iorg begins serving as president.

Louisiana pastor Philip Robertson, who chairs the Executive Committee, called the search process “a long journey” when Iorg was announced as a candidate. Iorg’s election, he said, marked a “new day” for the committee.

“The way Southern Baptists have united around this nomination is something we haven’t seen in a long time,” he told Baptist Press, an official SBC publication. “I am extremely grateful to God for that.”

Iorg’s colleagues have applauded his move to the Executive Committee.