Last week we saw a considerable outcry against the statement issued by the Executive Committee’s Bylaw Workgroup. Several of our writers took issue with the statement, as well as other notable voices like Rachael Denhollander and Ed Stetzer.
We’ve seen responses from a number of people involved, and here are some of the notable developments. First the good and then the ones that aren’t so…
- Several Executive Committee members have responded with support for Greear’s 10 Calls to Action and other steps to hear from victims and/or push back against the Bylaws Workgroup statement. EC Vice-chairman Rolland Slade and EC member Jared Wellman, among others, have spoken out in these ways, which has garnered significant appreciation from victims’ advocates.
- New state convention executive Thomas Hammond of Georgia released a statement that was well-received – apologizing for not understanding the situation at Trinity Baptist in Georgia and outlining a better response. Newsworthy in his statement was the fact that the pastor of Trinity, Rodney Brown, indicated the accused child molester was removed from his position as music minister and evidently asked to not even return to the church anymore.
- The Baltimore Baptist Association showed some real leadership in how a local association might deal with the sexual abuse issue, including funding for associated churches to perform background checks, up to $25,000. Their whole approach is worth reading and considering as other associations consider possible ways of responding.
- Bylaw workgroup chairman Ken Alford resigned from his chairman position and from the SBC Executive Committee. While his resignation was likely a needed step in moving forward, his resignation letter (quoted heavily in the Houston Chronicle article) unfortunately seemed to take a defensive posture rather than responsibility for what was a serious mistake that caused a lot of damage. As Ed Stetzer said, the SBC has gained a reputation lately for doing the wrong thing before we do the right thing. The workgroup statement was the wrong thing and it’s difficult to move forward when we’ve got people explaining why the wrong thing really wasn’t as wrong as most people think it was.
- Executive Committee chairman Mike Stone responded to criticism of the bylaws workgroup statement in a release yesterday through Baptist Press. I’d encourage you to read it for yourself. Some aspects of the statement are a call to work together through different approaches. I agree there in principle. Other parts of his statement move into the same kind of unhelpful defensive direction we saw in Alford’s resignation letter. I spoke to some folks last week who are watching this unfold as victims of abuse in SBC churches. They aren’t interested in procedural difficulties and foul-ups and taking several tries to get it right. I’m not either. We need leaders who take responsibility to get it right the first time.
- Finally, we still live with the reality that the bylaws workgroup statement has not been officially rescinded or amended. If someone at the Executive Committee wants to show some real leadership, I can think of no better way than to make that happen, in some form or fashion.