June 23, 2022
Update on the Southern Baptist Convention
Elder Letter by TCBC Elders
Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) took place in Anaheim, California. This year’s meeting drew extensive attention in large part because of the Sexual Abuse Report released just days before the meeting. Because TCBC is a cooperating SBC church, the proceedings and decisions of this annual meeting deserve our attention and consideration.
What is the SBC?
The SBC is made up of over 45,000 autonomous local churches who choose to align together around an agreed-upon doctoral statement called the Baptist Faith and Message. In addition, these 45,000+ churches join efforts and resources to advance the Great Commission through agencies like the International Mission Board, Send Network, and six theological seminaries training thousands of church leaders every year. TCBC is a cooperating church aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention.
What was the Sexual Abuse Report?
In early June, we were rightly troubled by a Report on Sexual Abuse that was conducted by an independent third-party investigation firm, Guidepost Solutions. The report was released to the public by the SBC’s Sex Abuse Task Force (SATF) and detailed a history of sexual abuse within SBC churches over the past 20 years. The report also exposed an apparent disregard for abuse survivors and their stories by some SBC leaders. The task force and ultimately the report itself came about as a result of the resounding vote of the SBC messengers representing local SBC churches at the 2021 annual meeting.
How are we to respond as a church?
As followers of Jesus, we must grieve with and for those who have been victimized by pastors, leaders, and volunteers within the context of local churches. We grieve and pray for the victims and the perpetrators. Above all, we grieve that the watching world sees a distortion of the Gospel message and a twisted picture of what the body of Christ is called to be.
We also must be wise. We currently have background check policies, minor policies, and program structures that help us protect and safeguard from abuse. We support the recommendations made in the report for the SBC and are continually reviewing our church’s specific policies to see where we might have room for growth.
We are also cautiously optimistic at some of the outcomes of this year’s annual SBC meeting. First, the messengers at this year’s convention overwhelmingly approved the recommendations of the SATF moving forward. The churches of the SBC seem at this point resolved to bring into the light what was hidden and take steps to decrease the likelihood of any type of sexual abuse within our churches and ministries. There is reason for optimism.
In addition to approving the SATF recommendations, 52 new IMB missionaries were commissioned. The Send Network reported 1,018 new churches planted in 2021. Missionaries with the IMB baptized 86,587 new believers globally. The six SBC theological seminaries reported a current enrollment of 24,565 last year. There is reason for optimism.
Let’s remember, the SBC as a denomination is a tool purposed for gospel cooperation. As a church, we recognize that an immense amount of kingdom work has been done through the partnering of thousands of churches that make up the SBC. We pray much kingdom work will continue to be accomplished for many years through the cooperative work of SBC churches and ministries.