I trust the Lord is demonstrating the depth of His grace toward you in such a fashion that you have a sense of His abiding presence.
I shared with you last week about the SBC Executive Committee’s concerns. The 2021 SBC Annual Meeting messengers spoke clearly when they called for the establishment of a Sexual Abuse Task Force and a transparent, thorough, and independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving the Executive Committee and its staff over the past two decades. There was never a doubt that every member of the Executive Committee purposed to carry out the will of the messengers. But how could we do that in a way that employed best business practices, causing no harm to the innocent and protecting the mission of all Southern Baptists?
After a 4.5-hour meeting today, the decision was made and an unprecedented blanket waiver of attorney-client privilege was passed by the Executive Committee. If you haven’t heard, I will share with you that I joined James Freeman and Monte Shinkle, EC members from Missouri, in casting a “no” vote. I pray the ramifications of the decision are not as the experts predict. However, the majority did choose to reject the counsel of a seasoned attorney with insurance and indemnification expertise.
One of the most difficult consequences is that 10 to 15 professional business laypeople have already resigned, or they are consulting with their firms to determine if they can continue to serve on the EC. Before the time of our meeting today, six had already resigned and I heard from three more within an hour after the meeting ended.
Before I go any further, let me be clear that any form of sexual abuse grieves the Lord and it grieves us, too. That is why Missouri Baptists are part of a leading state convention that assists churches with the process of protecting people from those who prey on others. We have not simply spoken about it. We invest hundreds of thousands of cooperative funds in ministries that comprehensively help victims experience help, hope and healing. Our public policy activity demonstrates that we long to see justice for every survivor of sexual abuse. You may want to read a message I posted on our website months ago that addresses this issue.
Your MBC staff and leaders already are working to discover the potential unintended consequences of today’s decisions on our cooperative work with our churches. Please know, we are “for the Lord’s church” and its gospel witness. Our passion is to serve with you to fulfill the Lord’s purposes.
In the days preceding today, many pastors and groups of pastors have contacted me. I am grateful for every contact and I respect every opinion. I was in hope of a way forward. I would reiterate: it’s okay to disagree with one another. We love one another in spite of our different perspectives. Thank you for engaging the issue that is beyond the legalities. Let’s stay focused on the reality that we live in a broken world in desperate need of the Lord Jesus. Our calling is to help the broken discover healing in Christ.
So, what do we do? Everyone needs to stay calm. Pray for one another. Be patient with one another. Pray that those investigating allegations of abuse are thorough, clear on their purpose, and protect the information they acquire. Ask the Lord to help us all know how to respond to one another with kindness and grace.
As always if you have questions or want to visit further, please send me an email or give me a shout.
The Lord bless you. Thank you for being the leader you are.
PS – You may want to read Baptist Press’s coverage of today EC actions.
Dr. John Yeats
Executive Director – Treasurer