Officials of a regional association of Southern Baptists disputed the account of a former executive director who claims he was fired because of interference by the denomination’s North American Mission Board.
Shannon Baker, director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (also known as the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network) said in a statement dated March 24 that convention leaders were “saddened and disappointed” by allegations in a series of blogs by former network executive Will McRaney claiming forced termination after NAMB President Kevin Ezell threatened to withhold funding from the two-state convention as long as McRaney remained in the job.
“Any suggestion that the North American Mission Board or any of its officers influenced the separation of Dr. McRaney’s employment from the network is false,” Baker said. “While the network continues to collaboratively work with NAMB to further our joint missions, all matters pertaining to network personnel are governed solely by the policies and procedures established by the network.”
Baker said McRaney resigned from his position as executive director of the network on June 9, 2015, and that terms of departure were mutually agreed upon by McRaney and the network.
Baker said network leaders were “particularly concerned about the misleading and disparaging remarks” in McRaney’s Open Letter to Our Friends in the Mid-Atlantic about Bill Warren, the convention’s president who McRaney says led efforts that secretly led to his termination.
She defended Warren, senior pastor of Allen Memorial Baptist Church in Salibury, Md., since 1984, as “a spiritual man of great integrity whose leadership was reaffirmed last fall at the convention’s annual meeting.
“The Network respects the confidentiality of personnel matters,” Baker said. “We can, however, state with confidence that President William Warren and other elected leadership acted at all times with the full support of the network’s governing board and that this matter was handled prayerfully and with the utmost respect for Dr. McRaney.”
Contacted by email for comment March 23, Warren told Baptist News Global the “network office has instructed us to route all media requests to Shannon Baker.”
McRaney said his friendship with and respect for Baker goes back to their days at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he taught from 1996 to 2007 and she worked as director of public relations from 1999 until 2003.
“While I would not want to disparage her or her role as the director of communications for the network, Shannon does not have firsthand knowledge of many of the matters I have shared,” McRaney said in an email. “My documents are impeachable, and I have Maryland/Delaware pastors who back up my account of what took place.”