Top leaders address divides in the denomination at the first in-person Executive Committee meeting in a year.
At its first in-person meeting since the pandemic took off a year ago, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee decided to cut ties with two churches whose pastors had been convicted of sexual offenses as well as two LGBT-affirming churches. But it was leaders’ concerns over ongoing tensions within the denomination that stirred Southern Baptists during the two-day gathering at its Nashville headquarters.
“Southern Baptists in large part are ready to walk into the future. But we are spending a lot of time tolerating those who would rip us apart…,” said SBC president and Executive Committee member J. D. Greear during remarks Monday night. “Brothers, let’s just call it: These things are demonic.”
During his presidency, Greear led the charge to stand by abuse victims in the wake of a watershed 2019 Houston Chronicle investigation, but some advocates are still disappointed that the denomination has not been more proactive in disaffiliating with pastors who mishandle abuse allegations or compiling a database of abusive leaders.
Though the disfellowshipped congregations represent a tiny proportion of a denomination with over 47,000 churches, it’s the biggest batch to be considered “no longer in friendly cooperation” with the SBC since it launched new efforts to improve its response to abuse.
This is the second year that the denomination’s repurposed credentials committee been tasked with making recommendations about churches’ status in the SBC. In 2020, the committee recommended one church lose its place in the convention due to past abuse by its pastor. This year, the committee recommended four. The SBC does not make public how many churches …