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BLOG: SBC Executive Committee meeting

NASHVILLE (BP) — Baptist Press is live blogging plenary sessions of the SBC Executive Committee meeting Feb. 18-19. Updates can be read here and at our Twitter account.

Tuesday afternoon

3:44 p.m. — The EC has adjourned.

3:42 p.m. — The EC recommended adoption of a 2019-20 CP Allocation Budget of $196.5 million.

3:41 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation to implement an updated Seminary Funding Formula to continue through 2029-30.

3:40 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation declining to make a formal ministry assignment to any SBC entity for the task of church revitalization. It commended existing church revitalization efforts.

3:38 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation making multiple additions to the SBC Calendar of Activities.

3:37 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation to add a Children’s Ministry Sunday to the SBC Calendar of Activities.

3:36 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation directing the EC president elect two new Southern Baptist Foundation trustees: Robyn Hari and Darren Elrod.

3:34 p.m. — The EC adopted several recommendations from the Business and Finance Committee, including a 2019-20 EC and SBC Operating budget of $7.7 million.

3:30 p.m. — The EC received as information that the Bylaws Workgroup adopted a motion to “request President Greear to provide the workgroup … any information which he wishes to provide tending to demonstrate that a particular church is worthy of consideration as to whether or not it is currently in cooperation with the Convention.”

3:29 p.m. — The EC received a report on the EC staff salary structure.

3:28 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation to declining to recommend amendments to the Baptist Faith and Message to explain the relationship between the Old Testament Law and the Gospel.

3:27 p.m. — The EC adopted a resolution of appreciation for retiring Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director David Hankins.

3:25 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation that the SBC Constitution be amended to deem a church not “in friendly cooperation with the Convention” if it has “acted to affirm, approve, or endorse discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity.”

3:24 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation that the SBC Constitution be amended to deem a church not in “friendly cooperation with the Convention” if it is “determined by the Executive Committee to have evidenced indifference in addressing sexual abuse.”

3:23 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation declining to amend SBC bylaws to strengthen trustee training, “having acted on a similar motion in the September 2018 meeting.”

3:22 p.m. — The EC adopted two recommendations declining to prohibit elected officials from speaking at SBC annual meetings. The EC has updated the Committee on Order of Business’s orientation manual to highlight Bylaw 2 requirements about the SBC program.

3:21 p.m. — The EC adopted a recommendation to approve an amendment to the International Mission Board’s articles of incorporation, granting trustee representation from every state or defined territory.

3:20 p.m. — The EC received as information a report that Barry McCarty has been contracted to serve as chief parliamentarian during the 2019 SBC annual meeting.

3:19 p.m. — EC presidential search committee vice chairman Adron Robinson reported the committee believes “we have identified God’s candidate for such a time as this.” The committee has not officially nominated the person yet but will be ready to do so “very soon.” When that occurs, the EC will be notified first. Then an announcement will be released through BP.

EC chairman Mike Stone said when the search committee was elected in April, “It became very obvious God was guiding us.” A secret ballot election yielded “the most diverse group that you could get from a group of six Baptists,” exhibiting diversity in age, ethnicity, gender and experience. Stone became the seventh member of the committee when he was elected EC chairman in June and became an ex officio member of the search team.

Some have asked who has been seriously considered, Stone said, referencing “unfortunate” criticism the committee has received. “Every single one of” the candidates submitted “has been seriously considered, for every submission is a sacred trust from Southern Baptists. Your committee has been both unanimous and unified at every single turn.”

To “find God’s man” has been the committee’s only goal, Stone said.

3:05 p.m. — EC member Philip Robertson opened the session with Scripture and prayer, speaking about Jacob’s wrestling with God in Genesis 32.

3:00 p.m. — The EC has been called to order.

Monday evening

8:10 p.m. — The EC has adjourned for the evening.

8:08 p.m. — The second part of Greear’s report focused on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists.

Abuse is “not a fabricated story” with an agenda, Greear said. Some Southern Baptist churches have “ignored” or “silenced” victims. The SBC’s culture needs to change, he said.

“We’ve got to look deeply at our culture,” see how abuse has been allowed and make sure it doesn’t happen again, Greear said.

He added, “Our goal is for our response to abuse to match the Gospel we proclaim with our mouths.” The Gospel declares Jesus laid down His life for the vulnerable. We need to defend them.

Greear recalled his announcement in July of a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study in July. It was funded by the EC, and the study has been conducted in partnership with the ERLC. More than half of study group is women, Greear said.

Initial recommendations of the study group include:

— “Repent for decades of inaction.”

As a convention, we need to report of a culture that has made abuse, evasion and cover up “far too easy,” Greear said. The SBC also must repent for using local church autonomy as an excuse.

— Make available a resource developed by the study group and entitled “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.” It is a free 12-lesson training for ministry leaders.

All six seminaries have agreed to incorporate this resource into their curricula, Greear said.

The 10-member team that has conducted the study and helped develop this resource comprises: Rachael Denhollander, Mika Edmondson, Brad Hambrick, Samantha Kilpatrick, Diane Langberg, Chris Moles, Andrea Munford, Karla Siu, Darby Strickland and Leslie Vernick.

— All six seminaries, the officers of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders and all state conventions have agreed to three documents on a “Statement of Principles on Abuse.”

— Churches, conventions, associations and entities should review their policies on abuse.

— The EC should consider requiring background checks for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments.

— Southern Baptists should reexamine our ordination process for pastors and deacons.

— The 2019 SBC annual meeting will address abuse through several programs and resources.

— State convention partners and LifeWay should work together to identify additional questions related to abuse that can be added to the Annual Church Profile.

— An SBC database of offenders should be considered, discussed and evaluated.

— The SBC’s governing documents should be amended to address the definition of a cooperating church and make clear that churches with “a wanton disregard” for sexual abuse are not in friendly cooperation.

Greear listed specific churches that should be asked to give an answer for their actions related to sexual abuse. The goal is never to disfellowship, he said.

“It is time for change. The world is watching,” he said. “… If we do not get this right, our churches will not be a safe place for the lost.”

7:30 p.m. — The first part of SBC President J.D. Greear’s report focused on reviewing progress on his six priorities for the SBC. Among them:

— “Keeping the Gospel above all.”

Greear expressed fear people don’t associate Southern Baptists with the Gospel primarily. “Our community can only know us for one or two things, and I don’t want to consume that bandwidth with anything other than the Gospel,” he said.

“Gospel above all” will be the theme of the 2019 SBC annual meeting, he said.

— Growth in the diversity of our leadership.

The North American Mission Board reports 62 percent of new churches planted in 2018 were non-Anglo congregations, Greear said.

But SBC leadership has not reflected the growing diversity of Southern Baptists, he said. Greear sought to remedy that with his appointments. Among the Committee on Committees, for example, only 32 percent of the members are Anglo males. More than half are from churches with less than 250 worship attendees.

“They’re chosen because they are qualified leaders,” Greear said, adding, “We don’t believe in tokenism.” Among the churches of Committee on Committees members, the average Cooperative Program giving is 7.6 percent of undesignated receipts, well above the SBC average.

— A desire to engage the next generation of Southern Baptists.

— Renewed commitment to cooperative missions.

— An emphasis on sending.

Greear has challenged college students, young professionals, families and retirees at his pastorate, The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., to become involved in church planting for two years. He is taking steps to offer a similar challenge to all Southern Baptists.

— Returning to evangelism as our primary goal.

In cooperation with NAMB, Greear has launched “Who’s Your One?” — an initiative challenging every Southern Baptist to pray for one person, share the Gospel with them and invite them to trust Christ as Lord and Savior.

“We have to reach people outside of the church,” Greear said.

7:08 p.m. — EC ambassador Jimmy Draper led in prayer before the report of SBC President J.D. Greear.

7:01 p.m. — Southern Baptist Foundation President Warren Peek presented the EC with a check for $118,924. That amount represents 10 percent of the Foundation’s net profits given through CP as well as funds for every missionary to have a free estate plan.

7:00 p.m. — The EC’s agenda was amended to move the presidential search team’s report from Monday night to the 3 p.m. plenary session Tuesday. The amendment was intended to maximize the reporting time tonight of SBC President J.D. Greear. The agenda was adopted as amended. EC interim president Augie Boto also gave his report time to Greear.

6:52 p.m. — Amy Whitfield of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary led in prayer.

6:48 p.m. — EC chairman Mike Stone opened the meeting by reading Luke 18:15-16 and offering three “personal comments” on abuse and the EC meetings Feb. 18-19.

— Applause at a somber meeting can be “misunderstood as celebrative bluster,” and silence can be misunderstood as disagreement. “A simple amen is almost always in order.”

— Prayer will not be the “end of our response” but the “beginning of our meeting.”

— “Some have suggested … it would be good if this devotional time, indeed the meeting itself, were led by someone” with personal, firsthand knowledge of the abuse. “In the providence of God, it is,” Stone said, referencing the “horror” of abuse.

Stone knows today that the SBC’s “structure may not let you do” all “your righteous anger desires” about abuse. Stone as a boy “could not care less about your polity” and would beg the EC, “Please do all you can anyway.”

Stone promised to children, “You are a gift from God. And while we are imperfect adults trying to serve a perfect God, we will do everything in our power to keep you safe.”

6:30 p.m. — The Executive Committee plenary session has been called to order.