Meeting in Nashville June 14, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee voted not to consider a proposed motion for a separate task force and expanded investigation into its handling of sexual abuse in SBC churches.
Jared Wellman, a pastor in Arlington, Texas, asked that his motion be brought to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Nashville during the Executive Committee’s report Tuesday. But the motion didn’t make it out of the Executive Committee’s June 14 meeting, failing to receive enough votes to be added to the agenda.
The Executive Committee announced June 11 it has enlisted Guidepost Solutions to conduct an independent investigation of its handling of the sexual abuse crisis. Wellman’s motion proposed that the newly elected president of the SBC or his designee appoint a task force separate from the Executive Committee that would receive Guidepost’s report prior to the Executive Committee and present it to the full SBC.
Wellman also proposed expanding the scope of Guidepost’s study to include “all paid, appointed, or elected leaders or staff, previous or current, of the Executive Committee, Convention, and Convention entities.” The show of hands vote appeared close, but the motion didn’t receive the 2/3 approval needed to move forward. Executive Committee members spoke for and against the motion, with opposition focusing on using Cooperative Program funds for an investigation, and how expanding the study could tread on the autonomy of SBC churches.
Messengers to the convention could consider action related to the investigation when the business meeting begins tomorrow. Tennessee pastor Grant Gaines, who previously announced his intention to propose a third-party investigation with fellow pastor Ronnie Parrott, tweeted, “There is absolutely no reason the Executive Committee should have shut this down. If @ronniep and I are able to make our motion, and it is scheduled for debate, many of the components in Jared’s motion will be covered by ours.”
The investigation follows claims in recently leaked letters and audio clips that some Executive Committee leaders resisted reforms related to the SBC’s strategy on abuse prevention and care for survivors.
Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd addressed the Guidepost investigation in his report to trustees. “We believe we have handled a series of very complicated questions appropriately,” he said. “But we are not asking anyone to take our word for it. So, we have asked an independent third party, Guidepost Solutions, to do a fully objective inquiry to help us learn from it all.
“We will cooperate with their work and be transparent with it.”