Black Pastor Candidate Withdraws After Controversial Vote at SBC Megachurch

News & Reporting | 11/15/2019 | Staff
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A black Southern Baptist minister has withdrawn his name from further consideration at the Florida megachurch that failed last month to achieve the supermajority vote required to call him as pastor, sparking accusations of racism from within and outside the congregation.

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First - Baptist - Church - Naples - Florida

First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida, announced yesterday in an email to members that Marcus Hayes “has asked that his name be removed from consideration to be our next Senior Pastor.” The email, signed by the congregation’s eight-member senior pastor search team, called the withdrawal of Hayes’ candidacy “a major disappointment to several thousand members and supporters of First Baptist.”

Hayes has declined to make a statement to media regarding his decision.

Search - Team - Chairman - Neil - Dorrill

Search team chairman Neil Dorrill had told the congregation November 2 he hoped Hayes, an African American, would allow himself to be considered a second time as a candidate for the senior pastor vacancy.

Currently a campus pastor at Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, North Carolina, Hayes was presented October 26 and 27 as the candidate for the top leadership spot at the predominantly Anglo church. Its bylaws require “at least an 85% majority vote by secret ballot” to elect a senior pastor. But Hayes garnered only 1,552 of the 1,917 votes cast (81%).

Vote - FBC - Naples - Executive - Pastor

Following the vote, FBC Naples’ executive pastor John Edie claimed in an open letter to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that there were “racial prejudices” behind the vote, which manifested themselves in a “campaign that started just days before.” The church, he said, had already begun “to make sure that this sinful cancer is dealt with.”

That week, First Baptist’s deacons voted to remove from membership at least 18 people as an act of church discipline. One of those disciplined members, Bob Caudill, a former deacon and member of the pastor...
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