The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive board approved a policy declaring any registered sex offender “permanently disqualified” from church leadership.
A committee-recommended policy would have stated any congregation allowing registered sex offenders in church leadership roles “will be considered out of harmonious cooperation” with the state convention.
Instead, the board approved an amended policy statement that any church violating the standard “may be” rather than “will be” considered outside of harmonious cooperation with Texas Baptists.
Chad Edgington of First Baptist Church Olney made the amendment, suggesting the BGCT needed flexibility to consider exceptional situations “on a case-by-case basis.”
Several board members expressed a desire to send a “strong statement” about sexual abuse, while allowing some latitude to consider individual circumstances. Cindy Wiles of First Baptist Church Arlington cited the example of churches geared toward ministry to ex-offenders.
Help churches ‘think rightly about best practices’
In 2016, messengers to the BGCT annual meeting granted the executive board authority to remove churches from affiliation with the BGCT.
At the time, the convention identified four criteria to determine whether churches are in “harmonious cooperation” with the BGCT — praying for its work, supporting the BGCT financially, engaging in convention ministries and affirming “biblical marriage as between one man and one woman in covenant relationship with the Lord and each other.”
At the recommendation of its administrative support committee, the board added a fifth item related to registered sex offenders serving in church leadership positions.
The background document presented to the board as part of the recommended policy addendum “affirms the autonomy of the local church in all matters of governance including the selection of leaders.”