Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee members addressed 11 motions referred from the annual meeting in June, including adding an abuse awareness emphasis, and dealt with budgetary matters during their Sept. 19–20 meeting in Nashville. EC members also approved the SBC Credentials Committee’s recommendation regarding two congregations — that they “no longer be considered a church in friendly cooperation with the SBC.”
The two churches disfellowshipped are: College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, because of reported “open affirmation, approval and endorsement of homosexual behavior,” and Amazing Grace Community Church in Franklinville, New Jersey, due to the “lack of cooperation demonstrated by the church to resolve concerns regarding alleged discriminatory behavior.”
EC members discussed the Credentials Committee’s recommendations as well as heard legal updates while in executive session.
Along with approving the 2022–2023 EC and SBC operating budget of $8,335,000, EC members also approved up to $500,000 to be made available from the EC investment accounts for transfer to the EC operating budget “for areas impacted by increased costs related to the Department of Justice investigation and potential relocation expenses related to new incoming staff.”
Arkansas pastor Archie Mason, chair of the Committee on Convention Finances and Stewardship Development, also shared that $153,154,075 Cooperative Program receipts were received through the end of the third quarter, June 30, which is a 4.68% increase over the same period last year.
While the CP numbers are ahead, the EC operating budget is behind, Mason reported. “We’ve had a lot of expenses in this previous year,” he said, referring to the legal fees related to the Sexual Abuse Task Force and Guidepost Solutions investigation. Mason also added the EC has experienced a “negative total change of $5,800,000” in net assets.
Southern Baptist relations-related motions
Related to the motions referred to the EC, three were handled by the Committee on Southern Baptist Relations, which is chaired by Illinois pastor Adron Robinson.
Approved by the EC was the motion related to an abuse awareness emphasis. They are calling for a Caring Well Sunday be added to the SBC calendar for the last Sunday in September beginning in 2023. The Sunday emphasis has been assigned to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Keith Myers, pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland, made the motion in June and was onsite at the EC meeting to speak in favor of it prior to the vote.
“Pastors don’t know what they need to know about abuse and this is an opportunity to learn about it,” he shared with The Baptist Paper after the vote. “I’m excited they are going to implement it. … It’s encouraging.”
Another motion requested that all churches be required to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message. While the committee noted the EC does not have the authority to impose a statement of faith on any group or body, the person making the motion also chose to withdraw the motion from consideration, so no action was needed.
A third motion dealt with the request for a work group to be developed to study making Baptist Press an editorially independent news source.
Robinson introduced EC vice chair David Sons as the chair of that work group, who said the group will meet soon to begin its research and discussions. Other members of the work group are Shannon Baker, president of Association of State Baptist Publications; Seth Brown, director of convention relations at the Baptist Convention of North Carolina and former state Baptist paper editor; Todd Stiles, an Iowa church planter, author and EC member; Art Toalston, a retired BP editor and contributor to numerous media outlets; Dana McCain, member of the EC and writer with al.com in Alabama; George Schroeder, longtime career journalist now with Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Missions and Ministry-related motions
Eight of the referred motions were addressed by the Committee on Convention Missions and Ministry, which is chaired by California pastor Richard Spring.
• For the motion requesting trustees’ contact information be published and accessible, EC members voted to decline the motion and noted that for the past decade trustee information has been available on the front page of SBC.net on the trustee directories page. The information also is available in the SBC Annual, which is also available on SBC.net, Spring said, adding several SBC entities also post this information on their websites.
• Two motions related to the SBC Resolutions Committee — one for it to be temporarily suspended “for the sake of unity to help calm ongoing division and distractions to the SBC’s focus on missions” and a second one asking for the timely release of resolutions.
The committee declined to suspend the work of the committee but recommended resolutions be submitted by messengers “for review and consideration as early as April 1st but no later than 20 days prior to the next SBC annual meeting; the initial report of the Committee on Resolutions shall be released no later than 10 days prior to the annual meeting of the Convention, and the final report shall be published in the first day’s bulletin.” The recommendation was approved.
• For the motion requesting a pro-Israel amendment be added to the Baptist Faith & Message, EC members voted to decline even though “we appreciate the spirit of the motion and fully support the nation of Israel,” Spring said.
• A motion requesting Bylaw 15 be amended regarding trustee selection and who can serve to exclude from future participation anyone who has previously served on a board of the Convention was declined. “We encourage the Committee on Nominations to continue its diligent work in selecting potential trustee nominees from the broadest possible spectrum of Southern Baptist life,” Spring said.
• Regarding a motion to add a sentence to Article 1 of the BF&M about affirming Scripture holding ultimate authority, EC members voted to decline the motion, noting the BF&M already affirms the word of God and the priesthood of the believer.
Southern Baptists affirm the word of God as the ultimate authority, while honoring “the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believers, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the word of God,” Spring said.
• A motion to amend SBC Bylaw 26B to exclude investigation of an entity be referred back to the entity itself was declined by EC members. “While messengers of the Convention are charged with electing the trustees of each entity, the request to amend SBC Bylaw 26B is declined as such amendment would disrupt not only the ecclesiastical structure of the Southern Baptist Convention but would also violate the charters of its incorporated entities,” Spring said.
• The motion requesting the EC cease to use executive sessions also was voted down. “This request is in conflict with SBC Bylaw 11 which provides that the parliamentary authority of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be Robert’s Rules of Order,” Spring said. “The SBC Executive Committee affirms the need and desire for transparency and openness in Convention work and commits to limit the use of executive sessions to instances when deemed absolutely necessary.”
In other action, EC members elected Narri Cooper, member of New Seasons Baptist Church in Spring Valley, California, to fill a vacancy on Committee of Order of Business.