By Jennifer Davis Rash
The Baptist Paper
Funding and polity revisions have been made to the two recommendations coming from the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force, according to a video announcement June 8. These recommendations will be proposed to messengers during the June 14–15 annual meeting in Anaheim.
“(We have a) new funding mechanism through Send Relief that will fund the reforms entirely the first year without use of Cooperative Program dollars,” said task force chair Bruce Frank, pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, North Carolina. “(The revisions also provide) a more bottom-up approach to the third party investigations of alleged abusers and give greater definition to Credentials Committee standards on sexual abuse.
“We’ve listened to the questions and concerns of Southern Baptists (since the original wording of the recommendations was released),” he said. “Your task force has been hard at work to take that feedback and use it to strengthen our recommendations.
“We hope these will address concerns our Southern Baptist family have with regard to funding and polity,” Frank said. “The goal of all recommendations is to help churches and entities make wise decisions for the glory of God and the good of people.”
Specifics to the recommendations
Task force vice chair Marshall Blalock and member Andrew Hebert described in detail to The Baptist Paper how all three of these new aspects will work. The June 8 TAB Media Special Report interview is available here.
With relation to the funding, Blalock noted how the entity leaders came together to find a way to “do this for the good of the kingdom, to serve Southern Baptists well and make sure we are not out of order when it comes to Cooperative Program dollars.”
‘Part of the solutions’
Send Relief leaders Paul Chitwood (International Mission Board), Kevin Ezell (North American Mission Board) and Bryant Wright (Send Relief) explained in a letter released June 8 how they decided to provide the funding. It says in part:
“Southern Baptists are grieving for survivors of abuse and are seeking ways to better safeguard children and families. Send Relief wants to be part of the solutions. … To this end, Send Relief commits the $3 million in one-time funds the SBC Executive Committee estimates it needs to carry out reforms.
“This $3 million would come from Send Relief undesignated funds, not from Cooperative Program donations or gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” the joint letter explains. “Send Relief’s contribution will allow Southern Baptists’ generous Cooperative Program giving to continue to serve and support SBC missionaries, church planters and seminary students.
“In addition, consistent with its mission to protect children and families, Send Relief will provide seed funding of $1 million for a survivor-care fund, providing trauma counseling for survivors of sexual abuse in the SBC, as well as for trauma-informed training for SBC pastors, churches, local associations and state conventions.
“Following the SBC annual meeting, Send Relief will offer online-giving opportunities for any entity, state convention, local association, church or individual to contribute to the survivor-care fund.
“Our prayer — like those of all Southern Baptists — is for unity, healing and courage as we collectively advance the hope of the gospel amidst a broken world.”
The EC will not need to propose a revised budget for messengers to consider now that funding has been secured for the first year. An initial revision was made June 2 to two budget proposals in order to plan for funding the task force recommendations. The EC Committee on Convention Finance and Stewardship Development met via Zoom on June 8 to rescind the revisions and will put the decision before the full board of trustees when it meets Monday, June 13, in Anaheim, prior to the annual meeting.
What happens beyond the first year is yet to be determined, Blalock noted. The EC will work on determining future funding needs after the annual meeting.
To read the revised set of “strengthened recommendations” in full, visit sataskforce.net. B&R