I did not intend to write anything else regarding the upcoming SBC presidential election. The election is only days away, and I have made my support for Ken Hemphill, and the reasons for that support, abundantly clear. However, the North Carolina Baptist online paper, BRNow, posted the article “Fact Check” in which candidate J.D. Greear said I erroneously attributed to him negative comments regarding state conventions. Subsequently, a number of people, both supporters and critics, have suggested I reply.
In the interest of accuracy, I offer the following points:
1. J.D. contextualized his comments by writing, “When I read David Hankins’ claim, I immediately called him…” (see 3/21/18 blog post) This just is not so. The truth is, I initiated through an intermediary a request for a conversation with Dr. Greear, and my talk with J.D. did not take place until days later. He did not immediately or otherwise initiate a call with me. I am attaching the email exchange between J.D.’s right-hand man and myself arranging the call. Is this a big deal? Maybe not. But the BR article was intended to give J.D. the opportunity to correct factual errors. Why would he misstate the material facts concerning a telephone call and then question my grasp of other pertinent facts?
2. J.D. claims in the “Fact Check” that he “never made” negative statements about state conventions. He further avers that when asked for the source of the alleged negative statements, I supposedly said I could “not remember.” This just is not so. He did ask me for the source. But my actual response to him was that I would “not name” the source. I know who gave me the information. I have talked to this person again recently and he stands by his account. This person still is not willing to come forward because of possible harmful repercussions to himself if he does. I understand if J.D. and others discount this testimony because it is secret. That is fair and reasonable. I, however, did press J.D. during the phone call as to whether he would still deny making the negative remarks, if the source came forward. At that point, he changed his reply to “I don’t remember making such remarks.
3. I am confident my source is telling the truth, and I will explain why. I have a long history of interacting with what I will call an “anti-state convention animus” in the SBC. This attitude was very apparent in the nine years I worked with the SBC Executive Committee. It came from a wide array of salaried and elected SBC leaders. Some of the animus was justified; some of it was not; but, the animus was real. I have been a state exec for more than 13 years, and there are times I have been called upon by my colleagues to help articulate the value of state conventions and protect our work from being devalued and defunded by people in the SBC. One of those occasions when my colleagues asked me to speak was to the GCR committee in the fall of 2009. J.D. Greear, a committee member, was present. I spoke for 20 minutes, or so, on the value of state conventions and cautioned against the anti-state convention sentiment exhibited by some on the committee. During a question and answer session on the subject, J.D. (who was about twenty feet away) addressed me and said, “What about us who don’t want to give to the state convention?” There were 40 or so SBC leaders who were there. The fact is I brought up this point during the phone call with J.D. and he said he did remember it.
4. Since this little “dust up” began, it has been reported to me that similar comments were made by J.D. in an Atlanta prayer gathering in January, 2014. Perhaps he can recall as well what he said on that occasion. I am told there were more than two hundred SBC leaders in the room and many can verify the account.
5. It is not just what he has said or written in public view, J.D.’s long-term record shows he has been unsupportive of state convention work. I am happy he now is saying that he values state conventions. But until about three years ago, he gave very little through the CP, and much of what he led his church to give to SBC causes was given around the state convention.
I believe local churches can do what they want about giving. But I also believe the health of the SBC depends on giving primarily through the CP to the whole budgets of the state convention and the SBC. I think it is essential for the president of the SBC to have a track record as a proponent of all our work and as a champion for the CP.
I invite Dr. Greear to check with those witnesses I alluded to above to jog his recollection. I am always happy when an SBC pastor acknowledges the value of state conventions and the CP, in word AND deed.