Iorg says his goal for Executive Committee is service

Jeff Iorg aims to help the SBC Executive Committee regain the trust of Southern Baptists, he said at a press conference following his election as president-elect of the EC on March 21 in a special called EC meeting.

Iorg pointed to two ways trust is earned – sacrificial service and demonstrated competence.

Newly elected SBC Executive Committee President-elect Jeff Iorg (center) was joined by Presidential Search Team Chairman Neal Hughes (left) and SBC EC Chairman Philip Robertson at a press conference. (Photo by Adam Covington/BP)

“My role at the Executive Committee is to lead us to be a sacrificial servant of Southern Baptists, fulfilling the role we’ve been assigned and to do that with competence and credibility so that we become trustworthy in their eyes,” he said.

Iorg identified the issues of sexual abuse response and prevention, a motion calling for SBC entities to provide information found on the IRS Form 990, and amendments to the SBC Constitution as primary concerns.

“These are pressing issues right now that are either before the Executive Committee or may require some leadership from the Executive Committee to resolve at this convention,” he said.

He also listed legal and financial challenges and the potential sale of the SBC office building in Nashville as matters he will focus on.

First unanimous vote since 1979

Iorg’s unanimous vote is the first time it has happened since Harold Bennett received one in 1979.

EC Chairman Philip Robertson and search committee chair Neal Hughes were also on the panel with Iorg.

Robertson said the unanimous vote is a testimony to God’s guiding hand.

“The work of God in the journey leading us to Dr. Iorg’s election and doing it in such a united way is providential,” Robertson told Baptist Press in comments following the press conference.

He added that it reflects the desire members have for unity on the governing board.

“I think it’s a testimony to our trustees that they are committed to serving the Lord, serving Southern Baptist and doing the mission in a unified way,” Robertson said.

Grateful for the Cooperative Program

Several of the EC’s ministry assignments have to do with strengthening, developing and promoting the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s mechanism to fund convention entities and institutions.

“My experience in ministry all these years has been people resource what they believe in and what they have a vision to accomplish,” Iorg said.

He says his work as advocate for the CP will focus on helping Southern Baptists remember the value of cooperative mission.

“I don’t see myself as trying to convince people to give more money,” he said. “I think my role is to try to convince people the vision is worthy of more resources and to keep that focus and that distinction in how I approach it.”

Iorg opened the press conference expressing gratitude to Southern Baptists.

“I came to faith in Jesus Christ because of the witness of a Southern Baptist church,” he said. “I was mentored and trained in a Southern Baptist church, attended multiple Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries and was supported by the mission boards and the state convention where I worked in the Northwest and now 20 years at Gateway Seminary.

“And my wife has a similar story of coming to faith in Christ in a Southern Baptist church, being called to ministry leadership at a Girls in Action camp and experiencing growing up in a Christian family where both her parents were graduates of a Baptist college.

“And so we are the product of Southern Baptists, and we’re grateful now at this juncture point in life to serve Southern Baptist really in gratitude for what they’ve invested in us over the last 50 years.”

In answer to a question about the EC president’s role in promoting the Cooperative Program, Iorg said his challenge will be “lifting up the mission of God and calling Southern Baptists to that and the Cooperative Program as a means to fulfilling that.”

“I have benefited so much from the Cooperative Program,” he said. “I’m the president of one of the largest seminaries in North America today. There’s no possible way that seminary would’ve been grown in the western United States had we depended only on western Southern Baptists. It just couldn’t have happened.”

Iorg has been the president of Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif., for the last 20 years.

He says that by God’s grace and through the CP, “We have a tremendous seminary on the West Coast that is far stronger than western Baptists could have produced in the last 50 years.”

Iorg will finish his tenure at Gateway in mid-May and remain the EC’s president-elect until that time.

Jonathan Howe will continue to serve as EC interim president/CEO until Iorg’s time at Gateway is complete.

Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee