Open Letter to SBC Trustees to NAMB

I appreciate the unique role you play on behalf of all Southern Baptists both as a trustee and in your local church. I harbor no ill feelings toward you and in fact I have strong prior relationships with several of your members as a friend, colleague or seminary student. I recognize that you are in a difficult and unfortunate position of having to make decisions on my serious claims regarding Dr. Ezell’s behaviors with such limited information.

Response to My Letter of Concern

I received the response letter from your Trustee officers on your behalf just 20 hours after I sent you my Letter of Concern. I was disappointed in the dismissal of my concerns in the NAMB trustee officers’ response with the declarations that my claims were “factually inaccurate and misleading”. I reached out to several trustee members who I know to make myself available to provide evidence for my claims, to answer questions, and to just dialogue about my experiences both before and after my Letter of Concern. Receiving no inquiries or invitations to meet with me personally from those individuals, it became incumbent upon me to both support my claims and defend my good name and integrity in communicating these matters. This is actually what the Bible in Luke 17:3 calls us to do for each other when we go astray.

NAMB Attorneys’ Letter

I also received the NAMB attorney letter from the NAMB attorneys on Feb. 29 which again denied my claims and communicated that what I had done to bring these matters to the light was “wrongful behavior” and “highly improper”. In America, when a person asserts with evidence and documentation they have been victimized by someone in power and with position, a complete investigation is typically in order, not denial and blaming the victim for bringing the matter forward or correcting them for how they brought the damages to light. I did receive one communication from a NAMB trustee expressing his concern and sorrow over what I had experienced, which greatly encouraged me and my family.

I have mailed you a copy of my response my Response to NAMB Attorney‘s letter. While the NAMB attorneys indicated that “certain of NAMB’s leadership may be willing to meet” with me in spite of what they deemed to be my “wrongful behaviors,” they did not indicate that the claims would be explored and investigated in a manner to seek truth. In fact, the NAMB attorneys continued to declare that what I had written was hurtful, inaccurate, and damaging, claiming my assertions were “unfounded and denied”.

Larger Southern Baptist Family

Therefore, it became necessary for me to take this matter before the larger Southern Baptist family who you represent and are the owners of the SBC. From everything known to me, I believe that I have sought the Lord, wise Biblical counsel and followed Biblical principles in seeking to address these sinful and damaging matters. My efforts, which may be perceived as unusual, are an attempt to bring matters into the light for you as well as the larger Southern Baptist family in keeping with the principles of Eph. 5:8-13 and Mt. 18:15-17.

Supporting My Claims

You have my Letter of Concern. What I am providing in this forum with various links is additional documentation of the facts that have been challenged. I am also providing something of a Biblical narrative on the matters in David and Good Men Gone Astray, a defense of my integrity which has been questioned, and to reveal some insights into actions that are probably new information to you. This story shows how it is possible for Dr. Ezell to have gone so far astray from Biblical teachings.  Finally I am sharing some perspectives into the damages Dr. Ezell has caused me and my family, the MD/DE Convention and what I understand to be the damages to the relationships across the SBC with other leaders in state conventions and associations.

Personal Hurts and Damages

My Letter of Concern was intentionally fairly sterile in tone, but that does not mean I or my family is without emotional and relational hurts stemming from Dr. Ezell’s actions. Gentlemen and ladies, Sandy and I share three daughters, one of which is still in college, one is in leadership in a church plant and the other is a prayer leader in her SBC church. What am I to say to them about some of these behaviors of men entrusted with leadership in various parts of our denomination? What will be said of you who have oversight responsibilities, now that you have additional documentation available to you? On a personal level, I have been marked after 30 years of faithful service to Southern Baptists, not of my doing, but at the hands of others, including Dr. Ezell. From a human perspective, Dr. Ezell’s actions have damaged my current and future livelihood.

Christian Determination and Justice, Not Secular Court

I have not sought to pursue a secular court remedy for what I believe is clearly libel by Dr. Ezell with his provable lies and false claims as noted in the “Statements of Fact: Summary Version” against me to my MD/DE Convention leadership in his Letter Canceling the Agreement with MD/DE and his written and verbal threats to withhold Southern Baptist money from the churches of the MD/DE Convention based on his lies. However, I took these matters to you and other SBC leaders instead of the court for your review in keeping with 1 Cor. 6:1-8.

Pivotal Point

I have experienced significant hurt and loss and I gather that Dr. Ezell is damaging other people and sister Baptist agencies as well with his bullying and vindictive behaviors. People across the country know it and have/are experiencing it. However to date, his behaviors have not been shared publicly and therefore not addressed to his own detriment and the detriment of Southern Baptist mission effectiveness. Dr. Ezell’s ungodly and unethical behavioral patterns have caused significant emotional, relational, and financial damages to me and my family. I am hopeful that someone(s) among you or among the larger Southern Baptist family will address these matters and Dr. Ezell will come to repentance. And should my claims be validated about Dr. Ezell’s behaviors, leaders should call for his repentance with a public apology to me and MD/DE Baptists and then there be Biblical restitution to me and my family for the damages he has caused. It should not take a court to become involved to make wrong things right. In keeping with 1 Cor. 6, we have men and women of faith who are capable of doing the right thing.

Executive Summary:   “Statements of Fact”

It would not please Jesus to make claims that are unsupported with facts. The following summary is based on the facts, mostly contained in the NAMB/Network Timeline Factors or the Statements of Fact: Detailed Version I developed for you to validate my claims in my Letter of Concern to you. The Statements of Facts documents are detailed reads, but they do lay the foundations for the following claims against Dr. Ezell which have been denied. These were hard to experience firsthand and they are hard to share, but as Nathan did for David, I share as truthfully and accurately as I possibly can, recognizing that I will give an account to Jesus for every word.

Dr. Ezell’s strategies through NAMB have systematically contributed to the dismantling aspects of the historic mission-supporting, mission-sending ecosystem which is the Southern Baptist Convention. This multi-layered ecosystem SBC has a cooperative form of …

  • Training pastors, planters, staff and missionaries through our seminaries,
  • Supporting and equipping pastors and planters while on the field through State Conventions and encouraging cooperation and cooperative mission giving that makes Southern Baptist mission efforts possible
  • Connecting pastors and planters to each other through the associations and
  • Carrying out ministry and mission engagement all across North America and across the globe through our national mission agencies.

Damages and Declines

These nationalization efforts and the tactics being used will further damage what they are trying to save or advance. The very fabric of Southern Baptist life is being torn apart at the seams as I addressed in my recent blog post: Dealing with Decline: The Future of Southern Baptist Cooperation. While some would applaud these efforts because they are in keeping with the Great Commission Resurgence, the results have been poor at best. Baptisms are at a 70 year low something over 500 fewer church plants each year since 2010 than in previous years and the dismantling of facets of evangelism and missions that were demonstrating positive results and building positive relationships. (After 5 Years, Is there a Great Commission Resurgence?).

With these enormous statistical declines, the longer-term damage is around the significant, but unmeasurable decline in trust and goodwill with Dr. Ezell’s tactics, strategies, philosophy of mission advance and handling of partnership.

Factual Summary Statements and Perspectives

Dr. Ezell’s actions toward the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network and me as its Executive Director were most unbecoming a follower of Christ and a SBC leader entrusted with the reins of our national missions agency. Dr. Ezell’s behavior has parallels to that of a bully who did not get what he wanted. So instead of coming to me or accepting one of my 6 or 7 meeting requests by email, Email Meeting Requests Ezell highlighted he resorted to natural man tactics with writing lies and making false accusations in writing against me as the Executive Director, while working around the leader of a sister agency. Ezell disregarded, disrespected, and dishonored me and consequently the MD/DE Convention in the process. He and NAMB were operating in violation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement and not honoring it or their word, but yet he canceled the historic partnership by falsely accusing me of violations with hiring protocol.

Threats on pastors and leaders of MD/DE Convention

He put pressures on multiple aspects of the ministry of MD/DE Convention via financial threats with Southern Baptist money and sent a text threat to the MD/DE Convention leadership via a Board member Thomas Winborn during a meeting in which Ezell knew the Board was discussing his and NAMB’s actions. He threatened to withhold funds from jointly funded missionary staff and placed them at risk again in March 11, 2015 meeting, and threatened the entire MD/DE Convention with his actions. With more details the picture only gets clearer.

Threats Using SBC Money on State Executive Leader

He threatened to pull resources, then pulled the resources, and then later restored them after my termination.  All one has to do is Follow the Money Trail. Within weeks of my termination it was revealed by Dr. Bill Warren, the President of the MD/DE Convention, that Dr. Ezell threatened to withhold resources budgeted and promised to the MD/DE Convention for as long as I remained their Executive Director.  See  Warren via Scott on Ezell’s threat against me. (Additional evidences: Follow the Money Trail, Wolverton Response in SBC TodayScott response on Drs. Warren & Ezell, Smoking Guns) Dr. Warren has tried to backpedal on his statements after the fact, but several pastors have called Dr. Warren’s Aug 2015 denial, a lie. I not only heard this myself on Sept. 10, 2015, I have it in writing, as I do for all of my claims.

I respectfully put these matters before you in your role as Southern Baptist Trustees assigned to the North American Mission Board for your consideration. I believe it honors Christ, His Word, and all those involved.

In Truth and Love,
Will McRaney

Related documents:

  • McRaney’s Letter of Concern re: Ezell NAMB
    McRaney 5 page “Letter of Concern” sent to NAMB trustees, various SBC leaders, all State Exec. Directors, and selected others impacted by Dr. Ezell’s actions against McRaney and the MD/DE Convention
  • Statements of Fact:  Detailed Version
    McRaney response to the unexamined denial of the NAMB trustee officers which claimed McRaney’s accusations were factually inaccurate and misleading – 12 page version detailing Lies, False Statements, Threats, Partnership Threats, and NAMB Violations  of Strategic Partnership Agreement
  • Statements of Fact:  Summary Version
    McRaney response to the unexamined denial of the NAMB trustee officers which claimed McRaney’s accusations were factually inaccurate and misleading – topic summaries in 5 pages outlining Lies, False Statements, Threats, Partnership Threats, and NAMB Violations  of Strategic Partnership Agreement
  • David and Good Men Gone Astray
    Description of how King David went astray and returned to God with parallels to how Dr. Ezell interacted with the MD/DE Convention and McRaney as their Executive Leader
  • Follow the Money Trail
    Tracks the changes in financial commitments from NAMB to the MD/DE Convention based on Ezell’s changing his mind and his threats.
  • NAMB vs. Network Timeline Factors 3D
    •  3 versions chronicling the actions of Dr. Ezell/NAMB in relating to the MD/DE Convention
    •  Stages of Pressure by NAMB – 2 page with phase descriptions
    •  Narrative Sequential Summary of Events – 1.5 page description
    •  Detailed and Dated Version NAMB Actions Toward MD/DE Convention – 7 pages of dealing with NAMB’s actions with MD/DE
  • Ezell NAMB Letter Canceling Agreement
    Dec. 2, 2015 Letter from Dr. Ezell and VP Jeff Christopherson giving notice of cancellation of the historic partnership agreement with the MD/DE Convention
  • Network Response Cancel Coop Agreement
    McRaney and 3 MD/DE officers letter of response to Dr. Ezell’s and Jeff Christopherson’s letter of cancellation of the partnership agreement with MD/DE Convention
  • NAMB SPA Strategic Partnership Agreement
    Signed and binding Strategic Partnership Agreement between NAMB and MD/DE Convention which started in Aug. 2012.
  • Supporting Documents
    Links to documents organized by category and alphabetically