Following increased calls for the recently announced third-party investigation of the SBC Executive Committee to be overseen by an outside group, the EC members chose not to discuss the situation during its meeting this morning (June 14).
Members also powered through a couple of contested officer elections and heard pleas from SBC EC president and CEO Ronnie Floyd and SBC president J.D. Greear to debate in a more grace-filled and loving spirit.
EC member Jared Wellman’s motion to amend the meeting’s agenda to include discussion on a motion he wanted to present failed to receive the two-thirds vote needed. His motion would have called for the newly elected SBC president (or someone designated by the president) to appoint a task force independent of the EC. The task force would work directly with Guidepost Solutions, the company hired to do the investigation related to allegations of mishandling sexual abuse accusations within the denomination, and make the full unedited report public.
Wellman’s motion also would expand the scope of the investigation as far as who would be included and would give Guidepost Solutions access to all data and information.
“By voting not to amend the agenda, we are moving to not have transparency like what was said in June 11 press release announcing the investigation,” Wellman said following the vote.
Joe Knott, outgoing EC secretary, shared he was concerned about expanding the scope of the investigation because of the autonomy of Southern Baptist churches. “Opening up the investigation could destroy the whole concept of … independent churches voluntarily [partnering]. … I do not think this is unity. It will not help anything. Our children’s Sunday Schools are run by the children’s mothers and their grandmothers. If there is a problem, we can address it without hiring a third party.”
Another EC member added that he thought the review is comprehensive enough. “This will never end. … This third party investigative will essentially have an unlimited check. I don’t think this is where we want to spend our CP dollars. … No one is in agreement with anything improper, but once we hand this over with an unlimited restraint or parameters … where does the expansion stop? Dr. Floyd has already done enough.”
Wellman later responded to the concern about using CP dollars on the investigation on Twitter with “we already use CP dollars for lawyers that ‘protect’ the EC from concerns raised by sexual abuse survivors. Where is the ‘integrity, excellence, transparency and accountability’?”
Ben Kelley, outgoing EC member from Alabama, said he was disappointed the group did not get to discuss Wellman’s motion. “To be completely transparent, we need to have a full audit,” he said to the group. “We need to be prepared when we go home.”
Others indicated a similar motion will be presented during the EC report at the annual meeting proceedings tomorrow (June 15), which would allow discussion by messengers.
During his report to EC members, Floyd acknowledged “challenges in many areas.”
“These challenges have led to confusion and division among some in our SBC family. This really grieves me,” he said. “At the same time I have to realize that it’s also expected in a community of our size and our breadth. … Much attention has been paid to internal tension and debate in our convention. I want to be clear, I think this is good and healthy when we do this biblically.
“Going back to Paul and Peter, the church has always been a place where iron sharpens iron, and our polity has been stronger because of our robust debate and sometimes preaching to one another,” Floyd said. “We will be better, stronger and more effective as a convention because of it, not in spite of it.
“The entire SBC needs to understand that we can passionately debate the processes, wording and documents regarding these very complex issues, but individuals and groups should do so in a biblical manner, a biblical manner without attacking one another and creating suspicion about the character about one another,” he added. “We are people who believe the Bible; we need to treat one another as Jesus has taught us to do.”
Referencing the EC investigation plans, Floyd noted, “We believe we have handled a series of very complicated questions appropriately, but we are not asking anyone to take our word for it, so we have asked an independent third party — Guidepost Solutions — to do a fully objective inquiry to help us learn from it all. We will cooperate with their work and be transparent with it.
“We are not aware of any ongoing situations and certainly none within my time here,” he added.
“This decision will … help us continue our Great Commission work together this week and moving forward. We are confident in this process.”
Greear shared with the group that he has been praying John 17, Galatians 2, James 3 and Matthew 9:38 for Southern Baptists and himself going into the annual meeting.
“What happens over the next few days has an impact on a watching world,” he said.
In other business:
- Rob Showers, chair of the committee on convention missions and ministry, reported that the task force working on how to handle removal of an SBC entity trustee who has misbehaved will have a report no later than the February 2022 meeting. “We are working on an issue that is much more complex than I initially thought it would be,” Showers said.
- EC members approved the nomination of outgoing EC member Jim Averett of Alabama to fill a vacancy on the credentials committee.
- Rolland Slade of California and Tom Tucker of South Carolina were reelected as chair and vice chair, respectively, but not before a motion to move to a ballot vote, which was defeated, and some confusion about whether Tucker could be reelected since he is not actually on the list of those being nominated to serve again on the EC. Slade won by acclamation, and Tucker won with 46 votes over Micah Nix of Oklahoma. “Tom Tucker is a member of the EC today … therefore eligible to be reelected to serve as vice chair of the EC,” Slade noted.
- Monte Shinkle, pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Missouri, was elected as secretary with no opposition.
Elected to the committee chairs were:
- Committee on missions and ministry — Rob Showers of Virginia (reelected)
- Committee on convention finances and stewardship development — Robyn Hari of Tennessee (reelected)
- Committee on convention relations — Jim Gregory of Idaho (reelected)
- Committee on Convention Events and Strategic Planning — Erik Cummings of Florida was elected following two votes not resulting in the needed majority and finally withdrawal from the election by current chair Rod Martin, who was eligible and interested in reelection.