NASHVILLE (BP) – The Credentials Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention held its initial meeting July 22 by video conferencing, electing Stacey Bramlett of Tennessee as its chair.
The nine-member Credentials Committee was repurposed during the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting into a standing committee to make inquiries and recommendations for action regarding instances of sexual abuse, racism or other issues that call a church’s relationship with the SBC into question.
Bramlett, senior vice president of Independent Bank in Collierville, Tenn., has been a member of the SBC Executive Committee since 2016, serving as the EC’s secretary from 2017-2019.
Bramlett is one of three members nominated by the Executive Committee. The Credentials Committee also includes the SBC’s registration secretary, the EC chairman and four members nominated by the Committee on Nominations. The nominations were approved by messengers June 11 in Birmingham, Ala.
In written comments to Baptist Press, Bramlett said, “I am humbled at being selected and I am approaching the role with much prayer and total dependency on the leadership of the Holy Spirit.”
She voiced gratitude “for a strong committee with a wide range of experiences in Southern Baptist life. We covet the prayers of fellow Baptists as the committee begins to chart a plan of action in preparation for dealing with any matters forwarded from the [EC] Bylaws Workgroup or other sources” in the days ahead.
In their bylaws vote, messengers in June repurposed the former Credentials Committee and created a new Registration Committee that will continue to be appointed by the SBC president for each annual meeting for the registration process of messengers.
In addition to Bramlett, the new Credentials Committee members named by the Executive Committee are Linda Cooper of Bowling Green, Ky., national president of WMU, and Mike Lawson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas.
Named by the Committee on Nominations were Jimmy Draper of Colleyville, Texas, a former SBC president and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources; Cheryl Rice, a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla.; Roger Spradlin, co-pastor of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., and a former EC chairman; and Greg Fields, lead pastor of Nellis Baptist Church in Las Vegas.
The SBC registration secretary serving on the Credentials Committee is Kathy Litton, director of planter spouse development for the North American Mission Board; the EC chairman is Mike Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga.
The repurposing of the Credentials Committee was one of two key actions by messengers addressing the issues of sexual abuse and racism. An amendment to the SBC constitution also was approved to specify sexual abuse and racism as grounds for declaring a church as “not in friendly cooperation.” The bylaws required a single two-thirds vote; the constitutional amendment will require a second two-thirds vote during the SBC’s 2020 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Further details follow about the Credentials Committee members. Once implemented, the nominated members will serve three-year rotating terms. The initial committee, however, has staggered one-, two- and three-year terms.
Bramlett is a member of Collierville First Baptist Church, where she has served on the finance committee, personnel committee, building finance committee, worship team and choir. She and her husband Andy teach an adult Bible fellowship class and a divorce recovery class.
As a senior vice president at Independent Bank, Bramlett manages the mortgage division and has more than 30 years’ experience in mortgage banking.
The Bramletts are lifelong Memphians with a son in law school and another son in high school.
Term of service: 2019-2022
Cooper is the 23rd president of national Woman’s Missionary Union, the first Kentuckian elected to the post, and is an ex officio member of the SBC Executive Committee.
She and her husband Jim are members of Forest Park Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky., where she is a member of Women on Mission and has participated in various church-wide and domestic missions opportunities as well as outreach in Indonesia, Russia, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Tanzania, Malawi, Jamaica and Ecuador.
She also serves as WMU director and chairperson of the Warren Association of Baptists’ missions committee and is a member of its administration committee.
As a dental hygienist, she has ministered to others through a 40-year career in the same office in Smiths Grove, Ky. The Coopers have an adult son and daughter, two grandsons and two granddaughters.
Lawson, who has served on various committees at the national, state and associational levels, is in his 20th year at First Baptist in Sherman and has been a member of the SBC Executive Committee since 2012.
He has been in the pastorate since 1985, serving in Sherman and two other north Texas churches, entering the ministry in 1981 as a youth minister. He holds M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Lawson and his wife Kim have been married 29 years and have two young adult sons.
Draper served 35 years as a pastor; president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1982-1984; and 15 years as president of LifeWay Christian Resources. He served as “EC Ambassador” alongside the EC’s interim president/CEO, D. August Boto, during the EC’s search for a new chief executive.
In retirement, Draper remains active in preaching, leading conferences and mentoring younger pastors.
Draper and his wife Carol Ann have three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Rice is in her 35th year of ministry with her husband Willy, currently senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla. — “the church where my entire family met Jesus and where I met and married Willy in 1984.” She came to Christ in 1981 at age 16 from a non-practicing Catholic background.
Calvary is the couple’s fifth church. She has taught Bible to varied ages over the years; served as women’s ministry coordinator at different times and speaker at various events; and served as president of the Florida Baptist Convention Ministers’ Wives’ luncheons in Pensacola and in Clearwater.
A retired high school English and literature teacher, she and her husband have two grown daughters, a son and four grandchildren.
Spradlin, who has served at Valley Baptist Church since 1983, has held a number of positions in Baptist life, including president of the California Southern Baptist Convention; 10 years on the SBC Executive Committee, including two years as chairman; a member of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message revision committee and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force; and 10 years as a trustee at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, including two years as chairman.
Prior to his call to Valley Baptist Church, Spradlin had been a Baptist Student Union director and a church planter. He and his wife Ginger have two grown sons and a daughter; a fourth child, Charity, is deceased.
Fields, lead pastor of Nellis Baptist Church, leads a multicultural congregation in the northeast area of Las Vegas that was organized in 1956 by members from the Nellis Air Force Base Chapel.
He retired from the Air Force in 2007 after nearly 21 years of service. He is currently completing a master of divinity degree from Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif., and holds an undergraduate degree in church ministries from Bethany College. He is a mentor in the Gentlemen by Choice mentorship program helping boys experience growth and maturity in leadership and personal development.
Litton was elected SBC registration secretary at the SBC’s annual meeting in Birmingham.
She has been on NAMB’s staff for eight years, currently giving leadership in care, coaching and training for planter spouses across North America. She was a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and has served on the SBC’s Resolutions Committee and Committee on Nominations.
She is married to Ed Litton, senior pastor of Redemption Church in Mobile, Ala. The Littons’ lives took unexpected turns as they lost their former spouses in separate auto accidents.
The Littons share six grown children and 10 grandchildren.
Term: while serving as SBC registration secretary.
Stone, the current Executive Committee chairman, has been on the EC since 2014 and is the immediate past president of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
Now in his 23rd year at Emmanuel Baptist Church in the southeast Georgia town of Blackshear, he has been the senior pastor 17 years, previously serving as music minister.
Stone and his wife Andrea have two sons and two daughters age 16 and under.
Term: while serving as EC chairman.
As now stated in the SBC’s bylaws, the Credentials Committee will:
— Review any information available when an issue arises during an annual meeting whether a church is in cooperation with the convention. The Credentials Committee shall either (a) consider the question and, when prepared, make a recommendation to the Executive Committee or (b) make a recommendation to the convention at the earliest opportunity, which will be immediately considered. One representative of the church and one representative of the Credentials Committee shall be permitted to speak to the question, subject to the normal rules of debate.
— Review any information available when an issue arises between annual meetings. If the committee deems that a church is not in cooperation with the convention, it shall submit a report to the Executive Committee with the committee’s reasons. The EC, at its next meeting, shall consider the report to make a determination. The decision can be appealed to the convention at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting, when the matter will be considered as part of miscellaneous business on the afternoon of the first day of the convention.
— Never attempt to exercise authority over a church in violation of Article IV of the SBC constitution in its queries to a church.
— Facilitate reconsideration of a disfellowshipped church if the church asserts it has addressed the matters which led to its removal as a cooperating church, subject to a vote by the Executive Committee.