Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, urged the denomination to adopt a constitutional amendment that would create a committee that will help fight sex abuse.
Speaking at the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday, Floyd told the messengers gathered that they should adopt a measure to create a “Standing Credentials Committee” that would, among other things, help to process sex abuse claims.
“The Southern Baptist Convention does stand against all forms and actions of sexual abuse, viewing it as a horrific evil. As Southern Baptists, we must address this comprehensively and correctly,” said Floyd.
“Unquestionably and undoubtedly, we must make a clear, compassionate, convictional, and compelling statement about this issue in every way we can.”
Floyd touted the proposal, noting that the new committee “will help in cases where one of our churches takes any position that departs from our most deeply held doctrines and beliefs, including in matters involving human dignity, which, of course, includes sexual abuse.”
“Its creation will be perfectly in keeping with our Baptist polity, which includes both our belief in the absolute autonomy of the local church and the right of our Convention to define the terms of its fellowship with the churches it serves,” continued Floyd.
“The proposal recognizes that, given the challenges presented to us in a rapidly secularizing culture, the SBC needs to be ready to deal with any challenge to our integrity and our witness.”
Floyd said that the people of the SBC “lament any abuse that has ever existed in our churches or ministries” and “pledge to devote ourselves aggressively to promote, encourage, and provide the safest of environments for all children and the vulnerable who attend our churches and are part of our ministries.”
“Besides holding our standards of relationship high, we also believe the existence of this Standing Credentials Committee would reduce the possibility that any of our cooperating churches would be slandered or falsely accused on the floor of our Southern Baptist Convention in session,” he said.
Held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, the theme of the annual meeting was “Gospel Above All,” based off of 1st Corinthians 15:3-4.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” reads the biblical passage, as rendered by the New International Version.
In advance of the annual meeting, the SBC Committee crafted the language of a constitutional amendment that would create a standing credentials committee for the denomination, which would examine misconduct claims against churches.
SBC President J.D. Greear stated in May that he believes “the SBC needs a clearer process for responding to abuse, as well as qualified individuals speaking into the process who ensure that we are a convention of churches who adhere to the legal standards of reporting abuse.”
“This standing credentials committee is an important step in that direction,” noted Greear, as reported by the Baptist Press.
“This committee would be charged with handling any issues that may arise as to whether a church is in cooperation with the SBC, including (but not limited to) complaints of sexual abuse.”
Last Saturday, the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Advisory Group released a 51-page report in advance of the annual meeting. The group was created in response to the Texas-based Houston Chronicle publishing a story series on sexual abuse in SBC churches.
The newspaper had more than 350 additional tips and emails sent to them after they published the first part in February, according to Houston Chronicle Deputy Investigations Editor Lise Olsen.
Among its findings, the report stated that theology was misapplied and that this misapplication led to failures in handling sexual abuse situations.
Examples included “wrong teaching that leads to treatment of women and children as inferior to men in value, intellect, and discernment” and “misapplication of complementarian teaching, leading to women submitting to headship of all men.”