Mississippi Baptist messengers reelected Lloyd Sweatt to a second term as convention president Tuesday (Oct. 25) during the first session of their 186th annual meeting. They also heard a preliminary report from the Sexual Abuse Response Team (SART) that Sweatt had appointed.
Sweatt, pastor of Meadowood Baptist Church, Amory, appointed the response team to review the Guidepost Solutions report and recommendations addressing allegations that the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee mishandled reports of sexual abuse. The team was also assigned the task of bringing its own report and recommendations to Mississippi Baptist messengers gathered for their annual meeting, held at First Baptist Church Jackson.
During the opening session, the response team announced the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board Executive Committee has allotted $250,000 to be used immediately by churches toward membership and training with MinistrySafe. The Texas-based legal ministry provides “a complete child safety system designed to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse,” according to the MinistrySafe website.
Mississippi Baptist churches in cooperation with the MBC can sign up for the $250 per church subsidy at the MinistrySafe website by entering the code MS2022.
Brad Eubank, SART chair and senior pastor of Petal First Baptist Church, told messengers a final report on the team’s work will be issued at the state’s 2023 annual meeting.
The response team is currently issuing special resources that can be used by churches, Eubank said, including a First Steps booklet, poster and card. The resources are not copyrighted and may be reproduced.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC also offers the Caring Well Challenge, which is a unified call to action on the abuse crisis. The goal of the challenge, according to the ERLC website, is to “equip churches to be safe for survivors and safe from abuse.” For more information, click here.
Messengers also heard reports from Danny Smith, convention board president and pastor of First Baptist Church Tunica, and Johnny Ervin, MBCB transitional director for church planting/revitalization.
Sweatt preached the President’s Address to close out the opening session.
Worship through music was presented by the worship team of Meadowood Baptist Church. Hance Dilbeck, president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources, presented a devotional. Jordan Reed, a member of First Baptist Church Bruce, presented the Scripture reading from Exodus 19:1-6.
Click here to watch Wednesday’s sessions on livestream.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by William Perkins and originally published by The Baptist Record, journal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.