News Articles

Long-term sexual abuse reforms, financial updates highlight EC meeting

The SBC Executive Committee met in Nashville Feb. 19-20. Photo by Brandon Porter.

NASHVILLE (BP) – At its meeting Feb. 19-20, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee adopted a reduced Cooperative Program Allocation budget, deemed four churches not in friendly cooperation with the SBC and learned of the potential launch of a new non-profit organization to manage long-term sexual abuse reforms.

The group also heard that a new EC presidential candidate could be announced soon and considered several motions referred to it by messengers at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

“At every EC Trustee meeting I am grateful for the sacrificial commitment of our trustees to serve the Lord and do our part to fulfill our cooperative work of Gospel mission,” EC Chairman Philip Robertson told Baptist Press. “I believe our SBC family will be very excited about the announcement coming from the search team very soon regarding the new candidate for EC president! While we still face financial challenges, I continue to see evidence of a renewed stability and spirit of unity within the EC. I am confident that the Lord is working and that good days are ahead at the Executive Committee.”

ARITF updates

In its report to EC members Monday night (Feb. 19), the Convention’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force unveiled plans to launch an independent non-profit organization to be a permanent home for SBC abuse reforms. ARITF chairman Josh Wester called the announcement “the biggest update from the ARITF we’ve had in the past two years.”

At a press conference the next day, Wester gave more information on the proposed structure and financing of the organization and said the group plans to release more details in the coming weeks.

The ARITF also announced a new curriculum to help churches navigate steps for the prevention of sexual abuse as well as the response when it happens.

Financial updates

EC members voted Feb. 20 to recommend a 2024-25 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $190,250,000, a decrease from the 2023-24 budget of $195,250,000. Allocation percentages will remain the same.

EC Chairman Philip Robertson said the Executive Committee had received an unmodified, or clean, audit.

“We’re very grateful to the work of the staff to maintain that financial status,” he said. “There’s been a lot of work and intentionality to help bring that to pass.”

Two motions having to do with requiring the entities to provide financial reports consistent with the IRS’ Form 990 were tabled until the EC’s next meeting in June.

Churches ‘not in friendly cooperation’

Based on recommendations from the SBC’s Credentials Committee, the EC voted to deem four churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention for either having a woman functioning as lead pastor, mishandling sexual abuse or failing to cooperate with the committee when queried.

Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C., West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., and Grove Road Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C., have the opportunity of appealing the EC’s decision before messengers at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in June.

SBC president’s address

In a sermon Monday night, SBC President Bart Barber preached from Matthew 18, telling EC members and guests, “God is present and active when we face sober and difficult decisions as the Body of Christ.”

“The church discipline passage is a passage that starts in disagreement but proceeds in the hope of eventual agreement,” Barber said. “It’s a passage that starts in unrepentant sin but proceeds in the hope of divine forgiveness and restoration to the Body. It involves at least two fellow members of the Body, but it also involves the Head of the Body.”

He also used his time to give updates about the SBC Committee on Resolutions, the Cooperation Group, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and the ARITF.

Interim EC president’s address

EC Interim President and CEO Jonathan Howe used the story of the biblical judge Gideon as an example of God giving a victory for His own glory.

“We should not think of everything in the SBC as a battle. This is a cooperative work and should be seen and treated as such,” Howe said. “What I came away with is that the same God who delivered the victory for Gideon and the Israelites is the same God who continues to carry us through whatever we may be facing.”

“Our cooperative work is not transformative if it’s all about us. And the only way we have success here at the EC or IMB (International Mission Board), or at NAMB (North American Mission Board) or any of our seminaries, or our state conventions or anywhere else,” he said, “is through the life-changing work of the Spirit of the risen Lord.”

Howe then listed each EC staff member by name, saying, “they’re not here to make names for themselves or for their own glory. They are role models for me.”

Other business

At their Monday night plenary session, EC members heard updates from their presidential search team chairman, who told the group to “pencil in” a date in March for a special called meeting to vote on a candidate.

The group also heard an early update from a group formed in November 2023 tasked with reviewing the long-term legal strategy of the SBC and the SBC Executive Committee.

In response to a motion made at the last annual meeting the EC’s Committee on Mission and Ministry declined “to provide additional clarification regarding Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message regarding communion. Historically, the SBC Executive Committee does not offer interpretation on the Convention’s consensus statement of faith.”

With reporting from Scott Barkley, Diana Chandler and Erin Roach.