NASHVILLE (BP) – Pastors from Texas, Oklahoma and Washington join a CPA in making up the five-member Committee on Cooperation that will act as a liaison between the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the Sexual Abuse Task Force and Guidepost Solutions during the ongoing investigation over the possible mishandling of reports of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The committee’s formation came about as part of the contract to initiate the independent third-party investigation called upon by messengers at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting and agreed upon by EC members Oct. 5.
Per the Guidepost contract, the committee will be led by SBC President Ed Litton, who will also serve as a member. The rest of the group will consist of two members chosen by EC Chairman Rolland Slade and two by the Sexual Abuse Task Force. Due to the scope of the investigation from Jan. 1, 2000 through June 14, 2021, those members could not be part of the EC prior to this year’s Annual Meeting.
Task Force Vice Chairman Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., issued the announcement to Baptist Press.
“Rolland Slade has named John Batts, a bi-vocational pastor from Washington, and Nancy Spalding, a layperson and CPA from Michigan, to serve,” he said. “The Task Force has chosen Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone and Texas pastor Chris Dupree to serve on the committee. All four have agreed to serve.”
Batts, Keahbone and Dupree all voted to waive attorney-client privilege at the Oct. 5 EC meeting. Spalding voted no. That session was the third in as many weeks where the Executive Committee debated the ramifications both for and against waiving privilege, with each session lasting several hours. The motion to waive privilege passed by a 44-31 vote.
Though he voted all three times to waive privilege in the investigation, Slade expressed his desire to include other perspectives on the Committee on Cooperation. “I wanted to be sure that both points of view of the EC are represented as we cooperative together in moving forward,” said Slade.
Blalock noted the committee’s “unique role [in] serving as a facilitator of the relationships between Guidepost Solutions and the EC.”
“We have every expectation that Mike and Chris, working alongside John and Nancy, under Ed Litton’s leadership, will serve well together,” he said.
The full report from Guidepost is due to be released 30 days prior to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., next June.