The Biblical Recorder reports that the new SBC Credentials Committee has announced a new online submission process to report church misconduct. This comes after the past Annual Meeting and the decisions by the messengers to rework the Credentials Committee’s process and function to allow them to conduct inquiries in the case of churches who are obviously outside of friendly cooperation with the SBC by virtue of mishandling abuse, racism, or other matters of cooperation.
The website for submitting information is http://www.sbc.net/credentials
Visiting the site you start of with two disclaimer pages and a check box to make sure you’ve read a full explanation of what the committee’s role and limitations are. That’s no small task. Even long-time Southern Baptists are likely to misunderstand aspects of the function and abilities of this committee.
There are separate forms for reporting “discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity”, “sexual or other forms of abuse in a church setting,” or “any other matter of faith or practice”.
Online forms continue the process collecting contact information about the person submitting the form as well as information about the church being considered and a description of the situation.
This is an important step for the Credentials Committee. We’ve heard very little from them since the annual meeting, but we can, and I think should, give them the benefit of the doubt that they have been working hard to get this process in place and do it the right way. The key to this is not in the details of the submission process, though I’m very glad to see that now publicly available. This is all going to come down to the committee itself as it carries out the inquiries and makes recommendations.
The main question looming in my mind is how the cautious and institutional the committee will be as they carry out their work. We saw earlier this year what I would call a protect-the-institution mindset from the Executive Committee and the Bylaws Workgroup when they said “no further inquiry needed” very quickly on most of the churches they were asked to consider. This committee was implemented in part to avoid a reoccurrence of that disaster. It will be up to the committee, which is heavily Executive Committee-oriented, to take an approach that shows the SBC is serious about addressing churches that mishandle abuse.