The Roys Report [Chicago IL]
February 5, 2023
By Sarah Einselen
The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) terminated one of its church-planting leaders, Michael Crawford, on Friday amid reported “moral failure,” a NAMB spokesman confirmed to The Roys Report (TRR).
Crawford had been vice president of strategies and development for the Send Network, NAMB’s church-planting arm, since October. He also led the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCMD), but resigned suddenly on Friday.
A letter to BCMD member churches stated Crawford gave notice that he was resigning as executive director “effective immediately.” He had led the organization for almost a year.
Crawford’s resignation came “due to moral failure involving marital indiscretions which disqualifies him from this position,” according to the letter from the BCMD’s president, the president of its administrative committee, and the leader of its mission board.
Crawford’s departure is the second at NAMB amid scandal within the last nine months. Last May, well-known pastor and former NAMB senior vice president of evangelism and leadership, Johnny Hunt, resigned after he was accused of sexually assaulting the wife of another SBC pastor. Hunt has denied the accusation.
TRR reached out to the BCMD for comment Saturday but did not immediately hear back.
“As soon as we became aware of the situation, NAMB terminated our contract with Michael Crawford on February 3,” NAMB spokesman Mike Ebert told TRR. “We are praying for everyone impacted.”
It appears NAMB recently scrubbed Crawford’s name and image from a Send Network press release first published in October. A cached version of the press release includes his name, but the release posted on NAMB’s site at press time does not. TRR asked Ebert for an explanation but did not receive one.
Crawford’s speaker bio for this fall’s TGC23 conference, hosted by The Gospel Coalition, still listed him as a Send Network vice president at press time.
The BCMD has named Associate Executive Director Tom Stolle as interim director of the organization, according to its letter to churches. As of Saturday, the BCMD website had been updated to list Stolle’s interim role.
BCMD leaders also called on Southern Baptists to pray for all those involved.
Crawford was with the BCMD for eight years and took the lead last March. Before accepting the executive director role, he was the Send Network director for Maryland and Delaware.
He also planted Freedom Church in Baltimore and was its lead pastor for a decade until 2020. With the church’s support, he co-founded The Banquet Network to help other churches welcome people with disabilities. In addition, Crawford founded The Subversive Institute, a nonprofit to promote grassroots efforts to improve Baltimore; and wrote two books.