J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., gave an address to the SBC Executive Committee this evening (Feb. 18) that outlined initial recommendations and resources from the presidential study group on sexual abuse.
Baptist Press photo
The Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group was launched in July 2018 through partnerships with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC Executive Committee.
Greear’s address focused on 10 key areas:
1) A call to “repent for decades of inaction;”
2) The announcement of a series of 12 training videos called, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused;”
3) The announcement that all six Southern Baptist seminaries, officers of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders and all Baptist state conventions have adopted three respective “Statement of Principles on Abuse” documents;
4) A call for Southern Baptist churches, associations, conventions and entities to take immediate action to review policies and procedures relating to abuse;
5) A call for the SBC Executive Committee to make background checks a minimum requirement for Southern Baptist committees and trustee boards;
6) A call for Southern Baptists to review local church ordination practices to ensure proper vetting;
7) A call for state conventions and LifeWay to identify questions related to abuse that can be added to the Annual Church Profile;
8) The announcement of programming at the SBC annual meeting that will address abuse among Southern Baptists, including a time of lament and an event hosted by the ERLC;
9) The announcement that the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group is evaluating the possibility of creating a database of offenders, but Greear acknowledged the development of such a resource is “complicated” and “will take time to evaluate;”
10) A statement that the study group “strongly believes” the governing documents of the SBC should be reviewed and amended regarding the definition of a cooperating church, so that churches demonstrating “wanton disregard for sexual abuse … are not in good fellowship with this convention.”
Greear said the Executive Committee had affirmed a proposed constitutional amendment and would exercise existing authority to review churches that “may well have already demonstrated a lack of good standing on this issue.”
He called the bylaws workgroup of the administrative committee to do due diligence in reviewing the standing of the following churches mentioned in recent media reports on sexual abuse to determine whether they have a “faith and practice which closely identifies” with the Baptist Faith & Message:
• Arapaho Baptist Church, Garland, Texas
• Bolivar Baptist Church, Sanger, Texas
• Brentwood Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Cathedral of Faith, Houston, Texas
• Eastside Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
• First Baptist Church, Bedford, Texas
• Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Ky.
• Trinity Baptist Church, Ashburn, Ga.
• Turner Street Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
Greear emphasized the goal of such action is “never disfellowship, but correction.” He also expressed gratitude for the Houston Chronicle’s investigative report for “shining a light on the magnitude of this horrific sin.”
He said to Southern Baptists, “We need to regard any exposure, any shining of light on abuse, as our friend, even if it makes us ask some uncomfortable questions about ourselves, publicly. Our job is to love and serve people, especially those who have suffered abuse. Our job is not to protect our reputation.”