ERLC/SBC ABUSE PREVENTION MOVEMENT LOOKS TO EMPOWER WOMEN AND ITSELF.
(Part 2 of the ERLC “Caring Well ” reality check report )
Rev Thomas Littleton 10-9-2019
Last weeks ERLC Caring Well Conference has raised some eyebrows as it promoted women’s empowerment as an answer to sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention . With speakers like Beth Moore attacking the historic SBC views of Complementarianism and blaming it for sexual abuse and the cover up of it . This movement has been been in the making for over a year and follows on the heels of the SBCs own internal #MeToo efforts which took out conservative icons like Paige Patterson. Now the ERLC offers “empowerment “as the answer to the SBC abuse issues. But make no mistake there is far more to be lost and gained than addressing abuse in the SBC for the “Caring Well” movement .
UNFRIENDLY -UNCOOPERATIVE AND WHISTLEBLOWERS NOT WELCOME
The issues of sexual abuse, race and same sex attraction (LGBT+ rights ) – as defined or redefined by the politics of Russell Moore and his ERLC regime and the empowerment of the newly tasked SBC “Standing Credentials Committee” to determine a churches standing in the SBC are central to the “Caring Well” ideology. Church Autonomy in the SBC is likely a thing of the past -as ARE “the Priesthood of the Believer ” and “Freedom of Conscience” . In the future – SBC “Whistleblowers” and “unfriendly ” and “un-cooperatives” BEWARE ! The ERLC operatives appear to be out to “Search Identify and Destroy” in the name of driving “cooperation ” and protecting the “vulnerable” as it defines them .
CARING WELL IS THE ERLC’S BABY -IT’S REACH GOES TO THE CORE OF SBC LIFE
CARING WELL MOVEMENT LAUNCHED BY GREEAR PARTNERING WITH ERLC
“Following his June 2018 election as SBC president, Greear formed a presidential initiative, working in partnership with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), to consider ways to combat the evil of sexual abuse in a church setting.”
“At its Fall 2018 meeting, the Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the Convention ad interim, approved up to $250,000 in Cooperative Program gifts to fund the initiative.”
“At the Winter 2019 meeting, Greear called on Southern Baptists to ten action steps in response to sexual abuse in a church or ministry setting.”
Season of Sorrow and Lament
“Greear called on Southern Baptists to enter a season of repentance of allowing a culture “that has made abuse, cover-ups, and evading accountability far too easy.” He called for a “season of sorrow” to “culminate at the 2019 SBC annual meeting as we have a time for prayer and lament on the subject of abuse.”
“In “Five Updates on the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group,” an ERLC update posted on May 14, Phillip Bethancourt, the Commission’s executive vice president, said that the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group will “lead a time of prayer and lament as well as present a report on its work” during the ERLC’s presentation on Wednesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m.”
BACKGROUND CHECKS -TIGHTENING ORDINATION -CHURCH REVIEWS -DATABASE
Background Checks Considered
“In his February remarks, Greear asked the Executive Committee to “strongly consider requiring background checks, at a minimum, for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments.”
“The Executive Committee officers have placed consideration of requiring background checks for members of all boards and committees of the SBC on the agenda for the Committee’s September 2019 meeting.”
“Executive Committee staff amended the nominations form completed by Committee on Nominations’ members. Each person nominated to serve in an elected role on SBC boards and committees will be asked to provide written affirmation of the nominee’s willingness for background checks to be conducted on him or her upon their election to serve.”
Ordination Practices Reviewed
“While ministerial calling and ordination continue to be a function of each local church, associational leaders are beginning to review ways to strengthen the process through their local network of churches.”
“Jason A. Lowe, an associational mission strategist in Kentucky, began polling pastors and other Baptist leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention on ways to enhance the ordination screening process, according to a May 10 Baptist Press news story about the survey.”
“In the resultant report, “Above Reproach: A Study of the Ordination Practices of SBC Churches,” Lowe noted that “very little study” has been done on this topic and that no one has a good snapshot of what is actually happening across the SBC when it comes to ordination practices.”
“No one knows how thoroughly candidates for ordination are being examined,” wrote Lowe, who serves as associational mission strategist for the Pike Association of Southern Baptists in southeastern Kentucky as well as executive pastor for First Baptist Church in Pikeville.”
“No one knows how many ordination councils require candidates to complete a background check,” he wrote. “No one knows how many ordination councils examine a candidate’s sexual purity.”
“The 555 survey responses Lowe collated included pastors (60 percent), associational and denominational leaders (17 percent), deacons (9 percent), retired or former pastors (5 percent), and others (9 percent) from thirty-four states, Baptist Press reported. He released his findings in a 42-page report and noted five significant points of interest:”
- SBC ordination practices have significant room for improvement.
- Discussions regarding a candidate’s sexual purity are sparse, but on the rise.
- Ordination practices are changing in both positive and negative ways. For instance, more churches are requiring theological training, and more are conducting background checks and asking candidates about sexual purity. But on the other hand, the role of the ordination council seems to be decreasing in importance. Screening periods have gotten shorter as a whole, and councils involve fewer ordained pastors.
- Ordaining churches in more populated areas set higher standards for their ordination candidates.
- Larger churches are more thorough in their examination of ordination candidates. Churches with a larger membership are more likely to cover more topics during the screening process, require a background check, and require training.
The full report is available at https://jasonalowe.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/sbc-ordination-practices-report.pdf.”
ACP Questions Considered
“In his May 14 update, Bethancourt noted that there is no expected change for this fall’s Annual Church Profile report churches are asked to submit beginning this summer and throughout the fall. ”
“Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, who oversees development of the Annual Church Profile in concert with pastors, state convention representatives, and SBC leaders, told Executive Committee staff in a May 2 email that the 2019 report had already been finalized and distributed to states and associations for them to begin the annual process of collecting responses from more than fifty thousand churches and church-type missions across the United States and its territories.”
Annual Meeting Activities
“During the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, a beehive of activities will highlight sexual abuse prevention in a church setting.”
“The central element of this focus is a scheduled presentation during the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission presentation, part one, at 2:45 on Wednesday afternoon, June 12. ”
“In addition to the report to messengers, the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group and the ERLC “will partner together for a Monday night event on ‘Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention,’” according to Bethancourt’s May 14 update. The event is scheduled for Monday, June 10, and will meet in the South Exhibit Hall, Level 1, in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Space is limited for the event.”
Panelists include ERLC President Russell Moore; SBC President J. D. Greear; author and Bible study teacher Beth Moore; attorney, advocate, and educator Rachael Denhollander; and Susan Codone, a survivor of sexual abuse in a Birmingham area Baptist church, Bethancourt wrote.
The ERLC booth in the exhibit hall will serve as a hub for information, resources, and conversations about abuse.”
Database Possibility Explored
“In his February 18 presentation to the Executive Committee, Greear raised the possibility of a “database of offenders.” He noted that the “subject of a database is complicated and will take time to evaluate.”
“This update was compiled from numerous sources by Roger S. Oldham, executive editor of SBC LIFE and member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.”
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT SBC 2019?
SEXUAL ABUSE RACISM -HOMOSEXUALITY
“BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Sexual abuse and racism would draw heightened action within the Southern Baptist Convention under recommendations to be considered during the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.”
“A key recommendation, approved by the SBC Executive Committee in its June 10 meeting, calls for repurposing the SBC Credentials Committee to field claims against churches in regard to sexual abuse and discrimination based on ethnicity as well as matters such as homosexuality that would call their relationship with the SBC into question.”
“The Executive Committee also approved recommendations to amend the SBC constitution to specify sexual abuse and racism as grounds for declaring a church as “not in friendly cooperation.” The SBC amended its constitution in regard to homosexuality in 1993.”
“SBC President J.D. Greear, in his greeting to EC members, said Southern Baptists are “at a defining moment” in how they respond to some of the challenges before them.”
“I want to be careful not to overblow this … [but] how we respond to some of these things that are ahead of us will not only shape our witness in the present, it will also shape who Southern Baptists are for generations to come.”
THE COMMITTEE -WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT FOR?
WHY RE-PURPOSE AN EXISTING CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE ?
….”to field claims against churches in regard to sexual abuse and discrimination based on ethnicity as well as matters such as homosexuality that would call their relationship with the SBC into question.”
REALITY CHECK –
SO THE STANDING CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE IS A RE-PURPOSED GROUP FOR CREDENTIALING MESSENGERS TO THE ANNUAL SBC CONVENTION MEETINGS TO NOW DETERMINE IF A CHURCH IS FRIENDLY COOPERATION WITH THE ERLC’S PROJECTED VIEWS AND STANDARDS ON SEX ABUSE- RACISM -HOMOSEXUALITY AND MORE -“NOT LIMITED TO ” ADDRESSING SEXUAL ABUSE ALONE
ERLC PROVIDED A guide to understanding the Credentials Committee proposal
“May 2019 “The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention will consider a significant proposal to establish a standing Credentials Committee. This committee will be tasked with handling disputes that arise related to whether churches are in friendly cooperation with the SBC, including concerns with churches over their handling of sexual abuse. The full text of the proposal is available at the end of this article. If this proposal is approved by the Executive Committee and then passed by a two-thirds vote at the annual meeting, the Credentials Committee will immediately become the Southern Baptist denominational body responsible for this process.”
FRIENDLY COOPERATION OR ELSE
WHAT DID HE JUST SAY ?
In reality this Credentials Committee about.; “This committee will be tasked with handling disputes that arise related to whether churches are in friendly cooperation with the SBC, including concerns with churches over their handling of sexual abuse.”
The issue here is then “whether or not a church is in friendly cooperation with the SBC”. This might also be stated as “is a church in compliance with the leadership of the SBC in a friendly posture .” The Credentials Committee might better be understood as a “Compliance Office” who is empowered to review churches .
What is the proposal?
“This proposal would establish a standing Credentials Committee that would be empowered to “make inquiries of a church” in instances where a dispute regarding friendly cooperation arises. This committee would now be responsible for handling issues arising from churches that act in a manner that is inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse. The committee would not just address issues of abuse but other subjects such as homosexuality or racism, in accordance with Article 3 of the SBC Constitution.”
“REVIEW “AKA SEARCH AND DESTROY UNFRIENDLY NON-COOPERATIVES
“The Credentials Committee can conduct an inquiry process in which it would “consider the matter and review any information available to it” to assess if a church is in friendly cooperation with the convention, as established in Article 3 of the SBC Constitution. If an inquiry process is completed between annual meetings, the Credentials Committee could make a recommendation to the Executive Committee who would then “determine whether the church is in cooperation with the Convention.” While the Convention and the Executive Committee retain their authority to make final determinations regarding whether a church is in cooperation with the Convention, this committee is authorized to assess and recommend action to the larger body.”
What is the purpose of the proposal?
“The purpose of this proposal is to establish a stand-alone committee that is empowered to assess and address issues such as abuse that could warrant disfellowshipping a church. It attempts to comprehensively address the composition and purpose of this committee. As J.D. Greear described it in the Baptist Press article, “This committee would be charged with handling any issues that may arise as to whether a church is in cooperation with the SBC, including (but not limited to) complaints of sexual abuse.” The proposal is a proactive step taken by the Executive Committee to position the Convention to more effectively address the abuse crisis. The Credentials Committee would carry out responsibilities currently handled by the Bylaws Workgroup of the Executive Committee.”
AGAIN ACCORDING TO THE SBC PRESIDENT GREEAR
“As J.D. Greear described it in the Baptist Press article, “This committee would be charged with handling any issues that may arise as to whether a church is in cooperation with the SBC, including (BUT NOT LIMITED TO ) complaints of sexual abuse.”
OK THEN – WE THINK WE GET IT !
We got now. So the Credentials Committee deals with “unfriendlies” and ” non-cooperative types.
DUTIES OF THE RE-PURPOSED CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE
“The repurposed Credentials Committee, if approved by a two-thirds vote of messengers as an amendment to the SBC’s bylaws, would be a nine-member standing committee. A constitutional amendment, meanwhile, requires a two-thirds vote at two consecutive annual meetings.”
“EC members approved the proposed Credentials Committee and sexual abuse constitutional amendment by voice votes, with several members in the negative; the constitutional amendment involving racism passed unanimously.”
“Specifics of the EC’s recommendation for a standing Credentials Committee include:
— A composition of the SBC’s registration secretary, the EC chairman and, for three-year terms, three members nominated by the Executive Committee and four members nominated by the Committee on Nominations for approval by messengers to serve staggered terms at the committee’s outset.
— An assignment to review any information available when an issue arises during annual meeting whether a church is in cooperation with the convention. The Credentials Committee shall either (a) consider the question and, when prepared, make a recommendation to the Executive Committee or (b) make a recommendation to the convention at the earliest opportunity, which will be immediately considered. One representative of the church and one representative of the Credentials Committee shall be permitted to speak to the question, subject to the normal rules of debate.
— An assignment between annual meetings when an issue arises to review any information available. If the committee deems that a church is not in cooperation with the convention, it shall submit a report to the Executive Committee with the committee’s reasons. The EC, at its next meeting, shall consider the report to make a determination. The decision can be appealed to the convention at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting, when the matter will be considered as part of miscellaneous business on the afternoon of the first day of the convention.
— An opportunity for a disfellowshipped church to seek reconsideration by the Credentials Committee if the church asserts it has addressed the matters which led to its removal as a cooperating church, subject to a vote by the Executive Committee.
— Instruction that its queries to a church should never attempt to exercise authority over the church in violation of Article IV of the SBC constitution.
— Creating a Registration Committee, modeled after the manner the Credentials Committee has operated in the past, to continue being appointed by the SBC president for each annual meeting to be involved with the registration process of messengers.”
“Pending messengers’ approval of the Credentials Committee, the Executive Committee voted to nominate its three members for the standing committee: Linda Cooper, president of national WMU; Stacey Bramlett, the EC’s outgoing secretary and senior vice president of Independent Bank in Cedarville, Tenn.; and Mike Lawson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas.
Repurposing the Credentials Revisions would entail revisions to SBC Bylaw 8 regarding Messenger Credentials and Registration; SBC Bylaw 15 governing the Committee on Nominations; and SBC Bylaw 29 on Participation in Convention Affairs.
The proposed constitutional amendments entailed revising into more succinct wording the proposals as adopted by the Executive Committee at its February meeting.”
ERLC REVIEWS THE CARING WELL TAKE AWAY
ERLC’S BETHANCOURT REVIEWED THE TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS
SOME CURIOUS CONSIDERATIONS
2. The report gives voice to survivors of sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches.
(How does the Report give Voice to survivors if no contact to REPORT ABUSE exist ?)
(In FACT NO SUCH contact to report ABUSE to the SBC exit after over a year of “Caring Well” efforts .)
4. The report acknowledges that failures in responding to sexual abuse have occurred in many ways, including:
(Interesting wording on some of these points !)
- Failing to adequately train our staff and volunteers—on the national, state, and congregational levels—to be aware of and respond appropriately to abuse
- Using church autonomy improperly to avoid taking appropriate action
- Failing to care well for survivors of abuse
- Failing to take disclosure seriously and to believe the survivor
- Failing to report abuse to civil authorities
- Recommending suspected perpetrators to new employment
- Promoting political, institutional, and congregational leaders whose language and behavior glorifies mistreatment of women and children
6. The report acknowledges the way the Southern Baptist doctrine of church autonomy has been misunderstood and misapplied.
(Two things characterize the historic Baptist faith – The Priesthood of the Believer and Church Autonomy . Both are being lost at the ERLC/ The Gospel Coalition brand of Neo-reformed faith is taking over leadership.)
7. The report acknowledges that some Southern Baptist churches have prioritized institutions over the vulnerable.
( No one has prioritized his institution over people more than Russell Moore has his change agent agenda in the ERLC)
IS CARING WELL NOW THE BRAND FOR ERLC ABUSES OF POWER?
Then ERLC “promotes the BRAND
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