By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE — Three Tennessee members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention resigned from the entity Oct. 5 prior to the remaining EC members voting to waive attorney-client privileges — a sticking point in the past several weeks to allowing a third-party investigator to move forward with its investigation of Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse cases as mandated by messengers of the 2021 SBC annual meeting.
Tennesseans Ron Hale, Chuck Williams and Robyn Hari each resigned for different reasons. The trio made up three of five Tennessee Baptists serving on the EC.
From the beginning, waiving attorney-client privilege was at the heart of the discussions between the EC and the Sexual Abuse Task Force appointed by SBC President Ed Litton, and that stipulation was included in the motion adopted by messengers in June. The EC voted twice in September to not waive attorney-client privilege. After the last attempt failed Sept. 28, the EC was given seven more days to work out details that would satisfy both the EC and the task force, according to Baptist Press reports.
The EC met again Oct. 5 in a special called Zoom meeting to receive a report from the officers on the motion approved in the SBC Executive Committee meeting on Sept. 28. The officers, however, were still at a stalemate and offered no recommendation.
EC member Jared Wellman of Texas then made the following motion (similar to what was presented at the past two meetings): “I would like to make a motion that represents the will of the messengers of a selective waiver that includes an investigation into any allegations of abuse, mishandling of abuse, mistreatment of victims, a pattern of intimidation of victims or advocates, and resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives of the actions and decisions of staff and members of the Executive Committee from Jan. 1, 2000 to June 14, 2021. I move that the Executive Committee authorize our chairman to execute the contract with Guidepost [Solutions] that we received on Oct. 1, 2021 which includes waiver of attorney-client privilege in accordance with the action of the messengers to the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention.” [Read more…]