Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber announced this year’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), including the group’s new chairman.
Josh Wester, lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, will chair the task force, following South Carolina pastor Marshall Blalock, who led the group last year.
Barber posted a document about the changes on Twitter Aug. 11, thanking Blalock and fellow outgoing task force members Cyndi Lott and Jarrett Stephens.
“Marshall, in particular, has served for two years — one on the Sex Abuse Task Force and one [on] the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force — and deserves the gratitude and affection of all Southern Baptists,” Barber said. “His leadership of the Task Force as chair for the past year has been exemplary.” Blalock pastors First Baptist Church Charleston, South Carolina.
Barber announced two more new members of the ARITF: Stephanie Cline from First Baptist Church Winter Garden, Florida, and Kelley Lammers from Dell Baptist Church of Dell, Arkansas.
Other task force members include Melissa Bowen, FBC Prattville, Alabama; Kris Buckman, Tri-County Baptist Church, Damascus, Maryland; Brad Eubank, FBC Petal, Mississippi; Mike Keahbone FBC Lawton, Oklahoma; Jon Nelson, Soma Community Church, Jefferson City, Missouri; and Gregory Wills, LaGrange Baptist Church, Kentucky.
Wellman to lead Cooperation Group
Barber also named Texas pastor Jared Wellman to lead a new Cooperation Group formed in response to a motion made by James Merritt, a former SBC president, at the convention’s annual meeting in June.
Barber encouraged Southern Baptist state conventions and local associations to “press pause on any ongoing work they may be conducting or motions they may be considering that involve the nature of what it means to be a church in friendly cooperation with sister Southern Baptist churches.”
Acknowledging the autonomy of those organizations and their right to define cooperation within their own spheres, Barber said the group will engage in “high-quality research, dialogue, prayer and contemplation about the nature of cooperation among Southern Baptist churches and our needs going forward.”
Wellman is pastor of Tate Springs Church in Arlington, Texas. He was recommended by the search team of the SBC Executive Committee to serve as the EC’s next president and CEO, but the recommendation failed after some EC members questioned the nomination process. The search committee is expected to release an update sometime this month.
Barber said he plans to name the rest of the Cooperation Group’s members by the end of August.