JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A leader in Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and state convention life has been elected the 20th executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
John Yeats, 61, the recording secretary for the SBC and director of communications and public policy for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, was elected with a vote of 34 yes, 3 no, and 1 abstention during a special called meeting of the 49-member MBC Executive Board Oct. 13 at the Baptist Building.
“My wife, Sharon, and I are deeply honored to be a part of what God is doing in the midst of Missouri Baptists,” Yeats said following a question-and-answer session with the board and their subsequent vote. “After much prayer and fasting, we are convinced that the Lord has placed an extraordinary opportunity before us.
“Over the course of the next few months, I purpose to pray a lot, ask a lot of questions and speak with many Missouri Baptist leaders in the churches and associations. Our hope is that over the course of our years of service, a culture of connectedness will emerge that becomes a vehicle for spiritual awakening, encouragement and cooperative ministries.”
Yeats is expected to begin his new responsibilities soon and is scheduled to address messengers attending the MBC’s annual meeting at Tan-Tar-A during the meeting’s opening evening session. Missouri Southern Baptists will have the opportunity to meet the Yeats at a reception immediately following the evening session.
Since 1997, Yeats has served as one of the five elected officers of the SBC (recording secretary) and is a member of the SBC Executive Committee.
In his most recent position in Louisiana, his responsibilities included administration, leadership and strategic planning. Part of his responsibilities included funding promotion and support to the cooperative work of the churches that comprise the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He also served as the state convention’s public policy officer that relates to the Louisiana Legislature on moral and social issues . Yeats has been instrumental in working with pro-life and pro-family coalitions and has provided expert testimony before lawmakers concerning statutes protective of church rights.
Prior to service in Louisiana, Yeats served as editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. He also served the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as the director of communications and editor of the Indiana Baptist. Prior to his ministry with state conventions, he served 20 years as pastor of churches in Texas and Kansas.
Yeats earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Dallas Baptist University and a master’s of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. He was awarded a doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, and a D.D. from the American Christian College and Seminary in Bethany, Okla.
The Yeats have three sons. Their eldest is pastor of Normandale Baptist Church in Fort Worth, and an adjunct professor for doctoral studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The other two are businessmen in Indianapolis and Austin, Texas. They have eight grandchildren.
The election of Yeats ends a seven-month search by the 11-member MBC Executive Director Search Committee that was appointed by the Executive Board following the January resignation of David Tolliver.
Members of the search committee included: Vic Borden (chairman), pastor, Red Bridge Baptist Church, Kansas City; James Freeman (vice chairman), a Kansas City attorney and member of Country Meadows Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit; Rhonda Rhea (secretary), author, Pathway columnist and member of First Baptist Church, Troy; Rebecca Nance, member, First Baptist Church, Trenton; William Bouyea, family counselor staff member at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Hannibal; Bruce Morrison, former MBC staff member and currently a deacon at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City; Stan Gibson, pastor, Pacific Baptist Church, Pacific; Jody Shelenhammer, a Bolivar businessman and member of Wellspring Baptist Fellowship, Bolivar; Randy Comer, director of missions, Barry County Association; Robert Lilly, pastor, First Baptist Church, Richland; and Donny Ford, an evangelist from Cape Girardeau. MBC President John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, served as an ex-official member of the committee.
Don Hinkle is editor of The Pathway, the official newspaper of the Missouri Baptist Convention.