Updated Feb. 21, 2020
Members of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) board of trustees released an open letter Feb. 20 expressing “strong opposition” to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee’s (EC) newly approved task force. The group is set to review the ERLC to determine whether its activities are affecting Cooperative Program giving.
The task force was authorized by the EC Feb. 18 in response to alleged “ongoing concerns” that the ERLC is not adequately fulfilling its convention-approved ministry assignments. The EC conducted a similar review in 2017.
The letter was signed by the ERLC board’s executive committee and addressed to EC chairman Mike Stone and other members of the EC.
ERLC trustees listed five reasons why they believe the task force is “unwarranted, divisive, and disrespectful.”
“At a time where a unified voice is needed for our cooperative gospel work, the Executive Committee is sowing needless division, treating trustees with disrespect, and spreading suspicion with this unnecessary task force,” the letter read.
The ERLC executive committee also said they have instructed ERLC President Russell Moore not to comply with the task force’s review until SBC messengers “have an opportunity to signal their belief that such a task force is appropriate.”
EC officers responded to the letter in a statement to Baptist Press on Feb. 21.
“When we continue to hear a growing number of reports that churches are either planning to decrease or withhold Cooperative Program gifts and are given specific reasons that relate to a Southern Baptist entity, we have a responsibility that we are granted under the bylaws of the SBC to consider those reports,” the statement said. “This action passed unanimously among the officers, unanimously in subcommittee, and by an overwhelming majority in plenary.”