Southern Baptists widely affirm Iorg nomination to lead EC

In his book “Shadow Christians,” Jeff Iorg writes about being famous … “among the Baptists.”

It’s a phrase born from his son Casey upon observing how many people wanted a picture and autograph from his “really famous” dad after a speaking event. Fame only goes so far.

But even when the spotlight shines, Iorg wrote, the focus should remain on the mission rather than how many know your name.

“‘Famous among the Baptists’ reminds me not to think too highly of myself, since Baptist public opinion is notoriously fickle,” he said. “Fame (even a little bit) is fleeting, and no one should embrace it too tightly.”

With the overall point well taken, that kind of level-headedness was cited among numerous Southern Baptist leaders in their reaction to the news that Iorg, 65, will be nominated to serve as the next Executive Committee president and CEO. EC members will gather in Dallas on March 21 for a special-called meeting to vote on Iorg.

“I believe Dr. Iorg is the right man to lead the EC at this time!” Philip Robertson, senior pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville, La. and EC chair, posted online. “God’s detours and delays are not always denial! Could not be more thrilled.”

“So excited for this news. Excited to work with Dr. Iorg as a member of the Executive Committee,” wrote Etowah Baptist Association (Alabama) Director of Missions Craig Carlisle, a member of the SBC EC.

Executive Director Randy Adams, who serves as executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, a role Iorg once held, agreed that there “could not be a better choice” as Iorg “loves Southern Baptists and thus is willing to serve at one of the most critical moments in our history.”

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell called Iorg a “great choice” and “one of the most respected and loved leaders in [the] SBC.”

International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood called Iorg “a proven leader, godly man, gifted administrator and excellent communicator. He knows our convention from almost every angle, having served as a pastor, state convention executive director and seminary president.

“What I appreciate most about him is his heart for the nations. Jeff loves the lost and is committed to our cooperative model of missions in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Iorg served as president at Gateway Seminary in southern California from 2004 until announcing the need for a transition plan last fall to find his replacement.

Peers offered their congratulations as well, such as Midwestern Seminary’s Jason Allen calling the announcement “encouraging” for Iorg’s “willingness to serve Southern Baptists in this critical moment.”

R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, called Iorg “exactly what we need as president of the Executive Committee.” New Orleans Seminary President Jamie Dew offered his congratulations and thankfulness at the news. Southeastern’s Danny Akin said he “could think of no one better equipped and gifted by God” for the role.

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood said Iorg would provide the “wise and steady hand at the helm” needed with the Executive Committee. Meanwhile, the X (formerly Twitter) account for the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention described the announcement as “Exciting news for us and all [the] SBC.”

— Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.