JEFFERSON CITY—Vic Borden, chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director Search Committee whose work bore fruit in John and Sharon Yeats, was struck by the weight of the moment Oct. 13 as prayerful Missouri Baptists made their way to the front of the Gold Room.
“We’re relieved, we’re excited,” said Borden, pastor, Red Bridge Baptist Church, Kansas City. “We rejoice in God’s Providence and in His moving in calling them here. They’re ready to hit the ground running, and we couldn’t be happier.”
Yeats and his wife are nationally known figures whose presence now on the 7th floor of the Baptist Building will translate into a veritable gravitas in MBC life.
MBC President John Marshall, like Yeats, is known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He called him a man of many gifts.
“I just think it’s incredible that we got a man of this caliber,” Marshall said. “We are blessed. I think we’ll bless them, too.
“He’s tuned in to the times. John Yeats … he’s on Twitter, he’s on Facebook, he’s communicating, he knows about computers, he knows what the younger generation is thinking about. But at the same time, he has all these years of experience. He’s a rare mix. He’s got the great maturity, but he’s also got the forward look.”
James Freeman, vice chairman of the search committee, served as a bit of a bridge in that he chaired the previous Executive Director Search Committee and provided Borden with a settled perspective as he led this group to complete their task. Freeman is a Kansas City attorney and a member of Country Meadows Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit. He was pleased with the 34-3-1 vote for Yeats.
“John is a very caring individual who loves to communicate,” Freeman said. “He is an individual who communicates across generations, across racial and ethnic divisions. He is a man who wants to do what’s right, with integrity and with a passion for personal relationships and personal witness with regard to the saving grace of Christ.”
Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri-County Baptist Association, Nixa, is close friends with Yeats. They are SBC officers who have been elected with long tenure—Wells as registration secretary, Yeats as recording secretary. For the past nine years they have been working together side by side with presidents and vice presidents in a small circle of Southern Baptist leaders to help make every SBC annual meeting an excellent experience.
Wells will now be part of the new authority structure in Yeats’ life—the MBC Executive Board.
“He is a man of impeccable integrity,” Wells said. “He loves the Lord, and he has a real heart to see God do a special work among Southern Baptists and Missouri Baptists. He longs to see God bring awakening and revival to our convention. He’s a people person. He loves people. He cares about people.”
Yeats represents innovation in communication to Missouri Baptist leaders like Steve Tanner, director of missions, Grand Crossings Baptist Association, Mexico. Tanner seconded Borden’s motion on the vote to elect Yeats.
“He is a strategic thinker,” Tanner said. “He’s out in front, and I like that.”
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor