Pastors call for investigation of claims in Moore’s leaked letters
Two SBC pastors plan to bring a motion at next week’s annual meeting in Nashville to request a third-party investigation of charges that some Baptist leaders inhibited reform on sexual abuse and attempted to silence former Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore on that issue and others. Grant Gaines of Tennessee and Ronnie Parrott of North Carolina posted their motion on Twitter after two leaked letters from Russell Moore alleged major disputes among denominational leaders over the SBC’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis and racial tensions.
SBC Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd tweeted June 7 that 15,000 messengers have pre-registered for the meeting. If reached in Nashville, that would be the highest attendance since the 1995 SBC annual meeting in Atlanta.
Heath Tibbetts, president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, shared a video message to encourage Baptists discouraged by ongoing discussion of the controversies. “The world is watching us,” he said, “and we have responsibility always to be shedding the light of Christ, even in the way that we approach challenging conversations.”
#ThisistheSBC campaign inspired by IBSA church
Amid growing controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention, an aerial photo of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville inspired Baptists across the country to post photos of their home churches with the hashtag #ThisistheSBC. Southern Seminary professor Andrew Walker started the trend by posting the photo with the caption, “I heard the gospel here. Baptized here. Discipled here. Met my wife and got married here. This is the ‘SBC’—not Twitter, not denominational intrigue.”
Patterson disputes allegations in Southwestern report
The 2021 SBC Book of Reports includes claims by Southwestern Seminary that “confidential donor information, student records, institutional correspondence, financial records, historical files, and meeting and Convention records” were taken from the president’s home after Paige Patterson was fired in 2018. Patterson, terminated over alleged mishandling of sexual abuse, denied the allegations in a conversation with Baptist Press and said, “I do not think the courtroom or the press is the place where Christians need to discuss their differences.”
Rick Warren announces retirement from Saddleback
Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren will transition to the role of founding pastor once a replacement is found to lead the Southern California megachurch he founded in 1980. “This is not the end of my ministry,” Warren told his church June 6. “God has already blessed me more than I could ever possibly imagine. I don’t deserve any of it, and so this next transition in my life is something I am anticipating with zero regrets, zero fears, zero worries.” The church does not have a successor in mind, he said, and will look inside and outside the congregation for its next pastor.
Southern cities lead Barna’s list of Bible-reading, prayer commitment
The top five Bible-reading cities in the U.S. are in the southern region of the country, according to a list published by Barna Research. In Monroe, La., 64% of people say they read the Bible at least weekly—that’s around double the national percentage that does so. No Illinois cities made the Bible-reading list, but one metro area—Rock Island/Moline—appears on Barna’s list of the most consistent cities in prayer.
Sources: Illinois Baptist, Baptist Press, Barna Research