LEXINGTON, Ky. (BP) – As many of you are probably aware, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), in particular, the SBC Executive Committee (EC), has been under investigation for its handling of sexual abuse instances involving pastors or church members in local Southern Baptist churches from June 2001-June 2021.
Following the will of the SBC messengers who voted in Nashville in June 2021, the current EC (which I have served since September 2021) authorized an independent investigation into our staff and committee. To ensure transparency, the trustees of the EC waived attorney-client privilege and fully funded the investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions.
The report from Guidepost is painful to read. It is painful because people who were harmed were not loved well, and their pain was often exacerbated by our leadership. Victims were ignored or shunned to avoid legal risk or avoid internal conflict. The report reveals, either indirectly or directly, we harmed survivors who came forward. Wrongs have been done. For this, every Southern Baptist church and member should grieve.
Over the next few weeks, our convention will seek to take steps to correct this action. We will deal with past actions as best we can, and we will diligently work to protect the vulnerable who are entrusted to our churches’ care. Polity and feasibility will no doubt be a part of discussions. Safety of current and potential victims integrity, and transparency must be the outcome of our work. Please pray for our committee and for our convention as we lean into this difficult issue.
The SBC has a very tainted past. Blatant racism, latent discrimination, controversy and sinful activity have been part of our history. They are a part of every organization of humanity. The latest actions could lead people to disengage from the SBC. I understand. However, I choose reform from within.
Here are the reasons I choose to continue to invest in the SBC:
- Mission Funding Strategy – The cooperative program mission endeavor is still the most effective way of spreading the message of Jesus.
- Missionaries/Church Planters – Many current missionaries have left families and country to share the Gospel. They left with the promise of SBC support.
- Network of Believers – Staff, partners in ministry, and friends have been developed because of our SBC connections.
- Disaster Relief – When disaster hits, Southern Baptists seek to bring relief to hurting people.
- Theological Education – SBC seminaries make the best theological education in the world affordable to future generations.
- Survivor Protection – A network committed, although very late in its commitment, to rooting out the evil of sexual abuse from our congregations is better than 50,000 independent churches with little support to address the issue.
- Self-Correcting Capacity and Desire – We have a troubled past. We have fostered sinful behavior and will make more mistakes but thankfully some are in our past. I pray for the day that sexual abuse is a former issue facing the SBC.
Nick Sandefur is senior pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.