The Pastor’s Conference has been a slow-motion train wreck from the start. One would expect the Executive Committee to exert control over what happens at the venue identified as the Southern Baptist Convention in annual session. I still have gripes about who gets display space in the exhibit hall for the SBCAM even though the EC has guidelines for that. If the EC establishes guidelines for the PC if they want to meet in the same space that is to be expected. But, I’m not all that heavily invested in the SBCPC, so I yield to Dave Miller and those who are.
But the investigation of the ERLC is troubling.
Here’s the Baptist Press story on the action: SBC Executive Committee creates ERLC study task force.
Here is the full text of the EC’s motion:
MOTION TO REVIEW THE ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION
Whereas, the members of the Executive Committee are entrusted with the responsibility to recommend the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to the Southern Baptist Convention on an annual basis, as required by SBC Bylaw 18.E(6); and
Whereas, the Executive Committee is directed by the Convention to study and make recommendations to entities, and the Convention when advisable, concerning adjustments required by ministry statements or by established Convention policies and practices, as described in SBC Bylaw 18.E(9); and
Whereas, the Executive Committee is directed by the Convention to present to the Convention recommendations required to clarify the responsibilities of the entities for ministries and other functions, as provided in SBC Bylaw 18.E(13); and
Whereas, ongoing concerns have been expressed both publicly and privately to various members of the Executive Committee and other Southern Baptists regarding how the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s actions in relation to its ministry statements are affecting the Convention and its relationships with local churches, local associations, and state conventions; we recommend
That a task force be created consisting of the now-serving Executive Committee chair (who will continue serving until the task force concludes its work) and six Executive Committee members appointed by the Executive Committee chair; and
That the task force review the past and present activities of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in the fulfillment of its Convention-approved ministry assignments and;
That the task force assess whether the actions of the Commission and its leadership are affecting Cooperative Program giving or the further advancement of the Cooperative Program; and
That the task force report back to the Executive Committee on or before its September 2020 meeting.
- Who made the motion?
- Why was this discussed in Executive Session?
- Why shouldn’t private critics of the ERLC be told to make their criticisms public, by name?
- Who are the six Executive Committee members who will form this task force along with chairman Mike Stone?
- Several SBC entities have had some notable and severe problems recently (SWBTS, MBTS earlier, NAMB earlier, IMB earlier) why is the ERLC being singled out and why were these others not given scrutiny?
- Are prominent, undisclosed SBC leaders behind this motion?
- Was the new network involved in any way in this action?
- Were any reporters in the Executive Session on background?
Noteworthy from the BP story:
As Stone noted, the task force created Tuesday is similar to the one formed in 2017 by the SBC Executive Committee to monitor the activities of Southern Baptist entities in relation to how their activities might adversely affect the Cooperative Program and churches.
The 13-member ad hoc committee in 2017 received reports from executive directors of state Baptist conventions that 75 churches across the SBC “were withholding, designating or escrowing Cooperative Program funds.” While only 14 churches were able to be confirmed by the committee, those 14 churches were estimated to have diverted a total of about $1.5 million away from the Cooperative Program.
9. Is this an indication that a handful of churches, possibly megachurches, are driving this investigation?
10. Is it helpful for the Executive Committee to be seen as being driven by a handful of Southern Baptists?
11. Did the 2020 presidential election come up in the executive session?
12. Would a request from the EC to the ERLC trustees have been a better route?
It’s probably not realistic to expect openness and transparency from the Executive Committee. I see no reason why questions 1, 2, 4, 7, and 8 cannot be answered.
We’re Southern Baptists. We have a long history of train wrecks and never seem to tire of them.