Last night during the SBC Executive Committee meeting, J.D. Greear outlined action steps based on the work of the presidential study group on sexual abuse. A number of reports were coming out from media outlets via social media during the meeting. It was clear that the meeting, from the beginning, aimed to take the situation with the utmost gravity with calls for repentance and lament. The steps Greear laid out were serious and, in some ways, unprecedented for an SBC President. In my view that accords with the leadership we need as we face this issue.
Most helpful twitter coverage came from SBC This Week, the Baptist Blogger, and Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle. (Scroll in their timelines beginning about 7:30pm Eastern on 2/18/19)
Coverage of the meeting is available today at the Biblical Recorder, Baptist Press, the Houston Chronicle (pardon the annoying pop-ups and autoplay videos), as well as the action steps being officially posted at the ERLC website. The ten calls to action are reproduced below, including links to sign up for a new curriculum called Becoming a Church that Cares Well on Abuse.
Already noted at SBC Voices was Greear’s insistence that those churches named in the Houston Chronicle series, and others accused of poorly handling abuse allegations, give an explanation or accounting of the events described in the article, as well as steps they have taken since then to correct past failures. Friendly cooperation with the convention (in other words remaining a part of the SBC) includes working with convention leadership in these areas.
Greear’s 10 Calls to Action based on the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Study Group:
- Enter a season of sorrow and repentance. Southern Baptists should lament abuse in our churches and repent of our failure to adequately address the issue.
- Embrace a new curriculum for holistic care in the early stages of learning of abuse. Becoming a Church that Cares Well on Abuse is a free video-based curriculum created by a diverse team of survivors, advocates, and experts. Contributors to the curriculum include Rachael Denhollander, Diane Langberg, Andrea Munford and more. Greear encouraged people to sign up at the curriculum’s website to stay informed about its launch.
- Affirm three separate “Statement of Principles” documents. Three separate documents were ratified by (1) all six SBC seminaries and (2) all 41 SBC State Conventions, and (3) SBC Associational Leaders signal a collective commitment to address abuse at every organizational level of the SBC.
- Take immediate action on abuse prevention and care. Churches, associations, state conventions, and entities should seek to strengthen their policies and practices on abuse.
- Consider requiring background checks, at a minimum, for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments. The Executive Committee should consider integrating background checks into the standard process for evaluating appointees and trustees in a manner that fits our polity. Our goal is to be vigilant to make sure that predators have no place at any level in our structure.
- Reexamine the ordination process. Churches should evaluate how to strengthen screening and background efforts in the ordination process.
- Update the Annual Church Profile to ask about abuse. Questions related to updated abuse policies and occurrences of abuse should be considered for inclusion in the Annual Church Profile completed by SBC churches.
- Prepare to address abuse at the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting. The 2019 SBC Annual Meeting will address abuse through prayer, reports, events, and resources.
- Explore possibilities related to a database solution. The Study Group will continue to evaluate possibilities for a registry of offenders.
- Request that the Executive Committee enhances governing documents on disfellowshipping churches and evaluates several churches. The Executive Committee should strengthen language in the SBC’s governing documents related to mishandling abuse as a grounds for disfellowshipping churches. They should also do due diligence on several churches specified in media reports on abuse to evaluate if their standing aligns with our faith and practice.