NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 18, 2019—At tonight's meeting of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, SBC President J. D. Greear delivered an initial phase of recommendations from the Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Group. Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented on the 10 initial recommendations from the group:
"The recent reports in the Houston Chronicle detailing sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches are both horrifying and demand immediate and swift action," said Moore. "Over the last several months the Advisory Group appointed by SBC President J. D. Greear has been working with unprecedented breadth of expertise and vigor of spirit. This group utilized the best expertise possible, inside and outside the SBC, in the worlds of law enforcement, psychiatric and psychological care, and those who have survived sexual abuse. This group will have much more to say in the months to come, but I am encouraged by what is happening in these deliberations. I also commend J. D. Greear for his strong leadership on this front. The recommendations he brought this evening are a needed advance, and I pray that they will be universally adopted across the spectrum of Southern Baptist life."
The recommendations and announcements Greear mentioned at Monday’s meeting included:
- Call for the SBC to enter a season of sorrow and repentance.
- Announcement of a new curriculum for holistic care in the early stages of learning of abuse.
- Announcement of a “Statement of Principles” statement signaling a commitment to address abuse at every level of the denomination, ratified by:
- Recommendations for churches to take immediate action and bolster policies on abuse prevention and care.
- Recommendation of required background checks, at a minimum, for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments.
- Recommendation to churches to strengthen screening and background efforts in the ordination process.
- Recommendation that the Annual Church Profile completed by SBC churches ask questions related to abuse policies.
- Announcement that the Presidential Advisory Group will issue additional updates at the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting.
- Announcement that the Presidential Study is continuing to explore possibilities related to a database solution.
- Recommendation that the Executive Committee begin process to amend governing documents related to mishandling abuse as a grounds for disfellowshipping churches.
In July 2018, Greear announced his intention to form a Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Group in partnership with the ERLC. The Advisory Group consists of outside experts and Southern Baptist leaders who advise Greear on issues related to sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and related subjects. The group’s purpose is to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions.
Detailed information related to the 10 calls to action on abuse can be found online at this link.