Reformation Charlotte has been covering the story of the failed election to install Marcus Hayes, a black pastoral candidate, as lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Naples, FL. Last week, Hayes failed to secure the required 85% of the congregation’s votes receiving instead only 81%.
As a result of the failed election, the church leadership immediately released a statement calling the election results “vile” and subsequently issued a public apology attributing the 19% who voted against Hayes as racists and calling them a “cancer” and a “sickness.”
To this day, not one shred of evidence has been produced to validate the very public allegations against their church members of racism and prejudice. As Reformation Charlotte previously reported, it is clear that the members who voted against Hayes had legitimate unanswered questions about his qualifications as a pastoral candidate.
Prior to the election, a concerned party who labeled themselves the “Voices of FBCN” began to raise questions regarding Hayes’ associations with certain segments of the “woke” social justice movement, apparently favorable retweets of pro-abortion pro-LGBTQ Democrat, Kamala Harris (note, they did not accuse Hayes himself of being pro-abortion or LGBTQ, but simply raised the question of why he would favorably quote such a person), and raised concerns about his experience as a pastor himself. The concerned party sent around a petition which received hundreds of signatures calling on the leadership to hold a special business meeting to address these concerns — the request was denied by the leadership.
As a result, many of these members claimed that Hayes began to block them on social media accounts and the church began to shun these members simply because they felt their questions and concerns should have been answered.
Here are the facts that we know so far about this scandal.
1.) Two of the top leaders of FBC Naples have criminal histories. The executive pastor, John Edie, had felony charges against him in 2016 for carrying a loaded concealed weapon into the Miami airport. He successfully completed a deferred prosecution program and had the charges dropped.
2.) The chairman of the pastoral search committee, Neil Dorrill had charges of racketeering against him in 2001 receiving 3 years probation and a ten thousand dollar fine for handing out pay raises as county manager in exchange for another high-profile job.
3.) The pastoral candidate, Marcus Hayes is currently part of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee and works alongside SBC president, JD Greear in North Carolina.
4.) JD Greear sent a letter of recommendation — on a Southern Baptist Convention letterhead — to the church in an effort to sway the vote in favor of Hayes. This official SBC endorsement of a local church’s pastor is clearly a conflict of interest and makes it look as though the entire denomination has a hand in this election. Of the over 100 pastoral candidates that were interviewed, it seems suspicious that the one Greear officially recommends on behalf of the denomination is one who he works side-by-side with on the SBC executive committee.
A copy of the letter can be seen below:
5.) Neil Dorrill, the chairman of the search committee and the one with previous corruption charges is seen in this video below telling Marcus Hayes that he’s going to be one of the most famous African Americans the Southern Baptist Convention has ever seen as well as the city of Naples and the surrounding area of 1.1 million people. This portion of the Q&A appears to be cut from the official version published online.
Should we be concerned that the Southern Baptist Convention appears to be officially supporting a local church’s candidate? Yes. Is this a conflict of interest? Yes. Was there a back-alley deal to install a pro-social justice pastor candidate into one of the largest Southern Baptist mega-churches in the area? We can’t say for sure, but the history of corruption within the Southern Baptist Convention and a concerted effort to remove conservatives from prominent positions and replace them with woke, social justice warriors appears to be par for the course for this denomination.
More to come.