The SBC Executive Committee announced June 11 it has asked Guidepost Solutions for an independent investigation of its handling of the sexual abuse crisis in Southern Baptist churches.
The announcement followed claims in recently leaked letters and audio clips that some Executive Committee leaders attempted to stymie the SBC’s strategy on abuse prevention and care for survivors. Among the charges is that Executive Committee leaders tried to delay formation of a credentials committee to investigate churches alleged to have mishandled abuse.
The controversy has also raised questions about how the trustee boards of Baptist entities operate. The Pathway of Missouri reported June 7 that Moore’s first leaked letter, written to his trustee executive board in Feb. 2020, was withheld from the full board.
“Trustees deserve some measure of privacy and the freedom to speak forthrightly and engage in spirited debate over issues,” wrote editor Don Hinkle. “But when millions of dollars are given by Southern Baptists, transparency, in the end, is required, and Southern Baptists have every right to expect that all elected trustees will have full access to all information pertaining to an issue.”
The controversy around the Executive Committee and the ERLC will likely overshadow a host of issues Baptists are expected to consider in Nashville. Here’s our list:
>A highly contested presidential election with four announced candidates: Northwest Baptist Convention Executive Director Randy Adams, Alabama pastor Ed Litton, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler, and Georgia pastor Mike Stone.
>Emergence of a Conservative Baptist Network critical of several recent SBC initiatives, including a resolution on Critical Race Theory adopted by messengers at the 2019 annual meeting.
>Ministry assignments for SBC entities, some of which could shift with messengers’ votes in Nashville, and an ongoing dispute between several state conventions and the North American Mission Board over missions and evangelism strategy.
>A proposed Vision 2025 plan with challenging goals in missions, evangelism, giving, and church planting.
>Ongoing abuse prevention and care for survivors two years after Baptists launched the Caring Well Challenge.
>The future of the ERLC following Russell Moore’s departure and the report of a task force charged with studying its direction and activities.
>Women’s roles in the church following the ordination of three women as pastors at Saddleback Church, one of the SBC’s largest congregations, and Beth Moore’s recent departure from the denomination after years of partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources.
>Race and racism, including much anticipated discussion of Resolution 9 on Critical Race Theory adopted in 2019, and the ongoing conversation around race in the SBC.
The SBC annual meeting begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday (CST), with a two-day, missions-focused Send Conference preceding the business meeting. Check back here for updates throughout the week.