Year-by-Year Select News Items, Resources, Responses 2000-2019

SOURCE NOTES: Most of this material was originally posted in two Twitter Moments. Systemic Sexual Abuse in SBC Part 1: Source Documents and News 2000-2017 (posted June 8, 2019) lists key historical materials and news/analysis, mostly from official SBC sources and a small number of news media outlets. Topics relate to ongoing systemic issues of sexual abuse and sexual predators in SBC churches and institutional entities. Part 2 (posted June 14, 2019) contains similar material, covering 2018-2019.

For news items, I have focused on 2018 and 2019, up to the point when the Moments were posted in mid-2019.

I have edited this material slightly for the sake of clarity, mostly just spelling out what I had abbreviated for the purposes of tweeting. For the sake of reference, I have left any numbers at the end of tweets  when there was a numbered thread.

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THREAD: SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION AND SEXUAL ABUSE ISSUES – SOURCE DOCUMENTS, NEW REPORTS. This thread summarizes and links to key historical materials and news/analysis from 2000-2019, many from official SBC sources. Topics relate to ongoing issues of sexual abuse and sexual predators in SBC churches and institutions.

The *absence* of resolutions, articles, or other documents during a year can be just as telling as when a year has a large set of items on relevant topics. It’s all part of the context. So, I am including year mastheads even for those years when little or nothing has been listed.

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RESOLUTION – 2000: On Condemning The Trafficking Of Women And Children For Sexual Purposes. Orlando, Florida – 2000.

RESOLUTION – 2002: On The Sexual Integrity Of Ministers. St. Louis, MO – 2002.

RESOLUTION – 2007: On Protecting Children From Abuse. San Antonio, TX – 2007.

STATEMENT – 2008: Responding to the Evil of Sexual Abuse. Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 2008. “The workgroup received and assessed information and suggestions from various sources both within and outside Southern Baptist circles.”

RESOLUTION – 2013: On Sexual Abuse Of Children. Houston, TX – 2013.

RESOLUTION – 2013: On Human Trafficking. Houston, TX – 2013.

RESOLUTION – 2018: On Abuse. Dallas, TX – 2018.

NEWS ARTICLE: IMB. “UPDATE: Former Baptist leader charged with sexual assault,” by David Roach (Baptist Press; July 16, 2018). QUOTE: “Mark Aderholt, a former employee of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and International Mission Board missionary, has been charged in Texas with sexually assaulting a teenager 21 years ago.”

STATEMENT: IMB. Statement from IMB President David Platt (IMB; July 25, 2018). He instigates investigations into (1) IMB’s handling of past child abuse and sexual abuse/harassment cases, and (2) its present policies. He also apologizes to Anne Marie Miller.

NEWS ARTICLE: IMB.IMB’s Platt initiates sexual abuse investigations,” by Art Toalston (Baptist Press; July 25, 2018). Details of two investigations initiated by IMB President David Platt, the context of Anne Marie Miller’s case, and Platt’s apology to her.

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.Southern Baptist Convention president announces formation of Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group,” by Elizabeth Bristow (ERLC; July 26, 2018).

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.Greear announces sexual abuse study group,” by David Roach (Baptist Press; July 26, 2018).

NEWS ARTICLE, SBC AND RCC.What Southern Baptists can learn from the Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Pennsylvania,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; August 17, 2018).

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.Four updates on the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; September 19, 2018). 

  1. Funding (initial $250,000).
  2. Strategy: admin support, resources, church-based strategies, seminary and higher education, state convention and association initiatives, etc.
  3. Sequence: assessment, development, implementation.
  4. Seminary efforts.

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.Greear’s Sexual Abuse Advisory Study underway,” by David Roach (Baptist Press; September 21, 2018).

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.An update on the Presidential Study on Sexual Abuse,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; January 14, 2019).

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #1 of 6. “20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders reject reforms,” by Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco; multimedia by Jon Shapley (Houston Chronicle; February 10, 2019).

BLOG POST: Houston Chronicle’s “Abuse of Faith” in the SBC – Article #1 of 3 – Resources for Additional Research, by brad/futuristguy on Spiritual Sounding Board (February 10, 2019).

Readers new to “abuse survivor blogs” may not be aware, but there is a huge reservoir of research and resource material from abuse survivors, advocates, and activists that corroborates the “Abuse of Faith” series. This page compiles background resources to all the situations and stories covered in the first article of the “Abuse of Faith” series from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.

Putting this out there helps show the continuity and solidarity of survivor communities. It also reinforces that the investigative journalists did an exceptional job in piecing together a mosaic of personal stories and institutional responses that help us grasp the big picture of the deep and long-term problems with abuse and concealment in the Southern Baptist Convention.

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #2 of 6. “Offend, then repeat. Southern Baptist churches hired dozens of leaders previously accused of sex offenses,” by John Tedesco, Robert Downen, and Lise Olsen; multimedia by Jon Shapley (Houston Chronicle; February 12, 2019).

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #3 of 6. “Preying on teens. More than 100 Southern Baptist youth pastors convicted or charged in sex crimes,” by Lise Olsen, Robert Downen, and John Tedesco; multimedia by Jon Shapley (Houston Chronicle; February 13, 2019).

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENT J.D. GREEAR’S CALLS TO ACTION.10 calls to action for Southern Baptists on sexual abuse,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; February 19, 2019).

WEB PAGE: CHURCHCARES.Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused is a curriculum designed to equip the church on how to respond well to the initial report of abuse. … Coming June 2019.” Includes profiles of seven women + three men preparing the curriculum.

STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLES ON ABUSE #1: SBC SEMINARIES. (ERLC; February 18, 2019). Sections include: Principles to Protect our Campus Communities (Process, Personnel, Awareness). Principles to Prepare our Campus Communities (Share, Care, Prepare).

STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLES ON ABUSE #2: SBC STATE CONVENTIONS. (ERLC; February 18, 2019). “Our state conventions will continue to address sexual abuse issues … care for abuse survivors … continue to prepare for abuse prevention.”

STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLES ON ABUSE #3: CONFERENCE OF ASSOCIATIONAL LEADERS. (ERLC; February 18, 2019). “Our associations will share about abuse … care for abuse survivors … prepare for abuse prevention.”

NEWS ARTICLE.WRAP-UP: Sex abuse prevention tops SBC Exec. Comm. Agenda,” by BP Staff (Baptist Press; February 20, 2019). Actions taken at the SBC Executive Committee meeting of February 18-19, and further follow-up recommendations.

NEWS ARTICLE AND STATEMENT, SBC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE BYLAWS WORKGROUP.SBC bylaws workgroup releases sexual abuse response,” by Baptist Press Staff (Baptist Press; February 23, 2019). Contains full text of their statement in response to President Greear.

NEWS ARTICLE, SBC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.SBC leader steps down after newspaper expose about abuse and coverup,” by Bob Allen (Baptist News Global; March 4, 2019). Further developments from the Bylaws Workgroup of the Executive Committee. QUOTE: “Ken Alford, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia, resigned Friday as a member of the SBC Executive Committee amid criticism after a work group he led called off an investigation of seven of 10 churches requested by SBC President J.D. Greear.”

NEWS ARTICLE, SBC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.FIRST-PERSON: We seek the same goal,” by Mike Stone (Baptist Press; March 4, 2019). Executive Committee Chairman Stone responds to events and issues regarding Executive Committee dealing with sexual abuse and emerging Bylaws Workgroup controversy.

PRESS RELEASE FROM ERLC.2019 National Conference Theme Changes to Confront Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Church,” by Jill Waggoner (ERLC; April 30, 2019). QUOTE: “The ERLC had already fully planned its 2019 National Conference on the theme, ‘Gospel Courage: Truth and Justice in a Divided World,’ but recently decided to shift the theme to focus on the crisis of abuse in the church, given the current crisis within the SBC.”

NEWS ARTICLE, PRESIDENTIAL SEXUAL ABUSE STUDY GROUP.5 updates on the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; May 14, 2019). 

  1. Caring Well: Equipping Churches to Confront the Abuse Crisis (ERLC conference).
  2. Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention (panel at SBC Annual Meeting).
  3. Plans and Announcements at #SBC19. Prayer/lament, report on Study Group’s work, resources.
  4. Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused curriculum (video + written companion) available at #SBC19, in both English and Spanish editions.
  5. Updates on J.D. Greear’s 10 calls to action on abuse. Some involve SBC entities’ collaborative efforts, some more long-term.

NEWS ARTICLE.10 Women Who Are Changing the Southern Baptist Response to Abuse. Meet the survivors and advocates whose voices spurred “holy rumblings” in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination,” by Kate Shellnutt; images, Melanie Grizzel (Christianity Today; May 17, 2019). Here are the 10, with Twitter handles, in order profiled:

Jules Woodson: SBC abuse survivor. @juleswoodson11

Megan Lively: SBC abuse survivor. @megannlively

Mary DeMuth: Author and advocate. @MaryDeMuth

Jennifer Lyell: SBC abuse survivor. @jenlyell

Diane Langberg: Psychologist and advocate. @DianeLangberg

Beth Moore: Ministry leader and advocate. @BethMooreLPM

Kelsey Hency: Editor, Bible teacher and advocate. @KelseyHency

Trillia Newbell: SBC leader and advocate. @trillianewbell

Anne Marie Miller: SBC abuse survivor. @girlnamedanne

Rachael Denhollander: Attorney and advocate. @R_Denhollander

LIFEWAY RESEARCH REPORT. Article: “Churchgoers Split on Existence of More Sexual Abuse by Pastors.” Report download: “Sexual Misconduct and Churchgoers. National Survey of Protestant Churchgoers.” (LifeWay; May 21, 2019).

NEWS ARTICLE, RESEARCH ON ATTITUDES TOWARD ABUSE.New LifeWay data shows attitudes toward abuse in SBC churches,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; May 21, 2019).

INVESTIGATION REPORT: IMB.Examination Update,” by Gray Plant Mooty [GPM] (IMB; May 22, 2019). Overviews independent investigation into IMB abuse cases and systemic issues. Sections on Methodology, and Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations to Date.

STATEMENT: IMB.IMB Response to External Examination,” by Dr. Paul Chitwood (IMB; May 22, 2019). QUOTE: “IMB agrees with all the recommendations we have received from Gray Plant Mooty, and we are committed to implementing all those recommendations with their help.” Dr. Chitwood highlights five commitments:

  1. Create a full-time position to oversee prevention and response;
  2. Involve legal counsel on reports;
  3. Go beyond legal reporting duties to authorities;
  4. Move to a trauma-informed approach;
  5. Provide accurate, informed reference on every IMB employee.

IMB ARTICLE.Frequently Asked Questions about Examination Update,” by IMB Staff (May 22, 2019). Addresses 15 questions about the independent investigation being conducted by the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty into past and present IMB systemic sexual abuse issues.

BLOG POST: IMB “EXAMINATION UPDATE.” Analysis of the SBC International Mission Board “Examination Update” and Recommendations from Gray Plant Mooty, by futuristguy (June 11, 2019). Includes sections on background reading and references, my analysis of the IMB’s article on the “Examination Update,” and my general comments and questions about the Update document.

NEWS ARTICLE: SBC AND IMB.Law firm: Southern Baptist missionary group must reform sex abuse reporting practices,” by Sarah Smith (Houston Chronicle; May 23, 2019). QUOTE: “The [SBC’s] missionary arm knew of sexual abuse allegations against one of its former top missionaries for over 10 years before his arrest — accusations that exploded last year and forced the organization to bring in a third party to investigate its handling of abuse.”

BLOG POST: PREVIEW OF SBC2019 ANNUAL MEETING. Birmingham Preview Part 1: The Executive Committee, by The Baptist Blogger (May 27, 2019). Includes Executive Committee particulars related to addressing systemic sexual abuse in the SBC.

NEWS ARTICLE, CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE PROPOSAL.SBC EC may revise sex abuse prevention proposal,” by Diana Chandler (Baptist Press; May 30, 2019).

ANALYSIS ARTICLE, CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE PROPOSAL.A guide to understanding the Credentials Committee proposal,” by Phillip Bethancourt (ERLC; May 30, 2019). QUOTE: “The intention of this article is to serve as a guide to help Southern Baptists and others understand the purpose and process of this proposal so that everyone can have a clearer picture as it comes up for consideration at the annual meeting.”

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #4 of 6. “Abused by missionaries. Baptist leaders stayed quiet after trail of abuse,” by Lise Olsen and Sarah Smith; photo by Jon Shapley (Houston Chronicle; May 31, 2019).

BLOG POST.Abuse of Faith Article Part 4, Abused by Missionaries, and an Update About Meeting with the IMB,” by Anne Marie Miller (May 31, 2019). Ms Miller met with IMB reps about independent investigation and recommendations for institutional changes.

EDITORIAL.Two things Southern Baptists must do at convention to restore trust,” by The Editorial Board (Houston Chronicle; June 1, 2019). QUOTE: “Those two changes — expelling churches that tolerate abuse and eliminating ‘forgiveness’ as an excuse — will take courage and deft maneuvering on part of the thousands who gather in Birmingham. “At stake are the very foundations of trust in the churches’ core mission.”

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #5 of 6. “Harboring abusers: Southern Baptist churches welcomed sex offenders,” by John Tedesco; photos by Jon Shapley and Jerry Lara (Houston Chronicle; June 3, 2019).

NEWS ARTICLE: IMB.IMB sex abuse prevention underway amid new report,” by Diana Chandler (Baptist Press; June 3, 2019). Investigations of IMB abuse cases, GPM’s recommendations, IMB responses. Notes @HoustonChron May 31 article, “Abused by Missionaries.”

ERLC PANEL UPDATE. Twitter notice from Phillip Bethancourt (June 3, 2019) that June 10th ERLC panel presentation at SBC2019 on “Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention” has expanded the seating, but is likely to be sold out. [Now with wait list.]

BLOG POST: PREVIEW OF SBC2019 ANNUAL MEETING. Birmingham Preview Part 2: The IMB, by The Baptist Blogger (June 4, 2019). Includes IMB particulars related to addressing systemic sexual abuse in the SBC.

INVESTIGATIVE ARTICLE.The Crusading Bloggers Exposing Abuse in Protestant Churches” by Sarah Stankorb; photographer, Charles Harris; designer, Christian Font; illustrator, Simon Pemberton; photo editor, Dudley M. Brooks (Washington Post; June 3, 2019) /1

“No one was paying attention — until these armchair investigators came along.” Follow the bloggers, survivors, and advocates this article profiles!

SURVIVOR BLOGGERS

Darlene (Dee) Parsons [and Wanda (Deb) Martin], The Wartburg Watch, Dee: @wartwatch /2

Amy Smith, WatchKeep, @watchkeep

Julie Anne Smith, Spiritual Sounding Board, @DefendTheSheep /3

OTHER SITES MENTIONED

Christa Brown, Stop Baptist Predators, @ChristaBrown777

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP)

SURVIVORS PROFILED

Jules Woodson, @juleswoodson11, #JusticeForJules

Kelly Haines /4

SURVIVOR-BLOGGER-ADVOCATE-ACTIVISTS

Ashley Easter, The Courage Conference, @ashleymeaster

Lvonne Proverbs, Beautiful Scars, Surthrivors (survivor + thrivers), @lyvonnep, @weresurthrivors, #WereSurthrivors /5

INVESTIGATIVE SERIES. Abuse of Faith #6 of 6. “Silence, survival, speaking out: Survivors of Baptist sexual abuse come forward to help others,” by John Tedesco, Lise Olsen, Robert Downen; multimedia by Marie D. De Jesús and Jon Shapley (Houston Chronicle; June 6, 2019).

STEVE RILEY TWEET (June 6, 2019). And we’ve added 45 more people to our database of Southern Baptist church leaders who’ve been convicted or took plea deals @jordan_rubio, @mizzousundevil

PHILIP BETHANCOURT TWEET (June 5, 2019). Good news: we were able to expand the seating one last time for the @erlc‘s event “Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention.” If you were on the waitlist, you are now in; and we have 100 spots left until they are all gone. #sbc19

SBC ANNUAL MEETING 2019: SAAG/ERLC PANEL. Monday, June 10; 9-11 PM; South Exhibit Hall. “Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention.” Co-sponsored by Presidential Sexual Abuse Advisory Group (SAAG) and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). [Link no longer works.]

BLOG POST: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS ANTI-ABUSE RALLY. For Such A Time As This–Rally Against Abuse at SBC 2019 Annual Meeting, by futuristguy (May 15, 2019). A compilation of advance information on the Rally’s goals, and links to resources.

SBC ANNUAL MEETING 2019: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS ANTI-ABUSE RALLY. Rally Press Release (May 29, 2019). Rally details: Tuesday, June 11; 5-6:45 PM; Convention Complex grounds. Not an official SBC entity function. For Such A Time As This Rally conducted its first SBC anti-abuse event at 2018 Annual Meeting.

SBC ANNUAL MEETING 2019: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS ANTI-ABUSE RALLY. IMPORTANT UPDATE. Rally start time changed to 6:15 due to SBC schedule announcement.

SBC ANNUAL MEETING 2019: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS ANTI-ABUSE RALLY. USA Today/Tennessee. The rally millstone made it into USA Today TN! This article provides a great overview of what may occur next week at #SBC19, and includes comments from two of our own @ashleymeaster and @juleswoodson11.

RESOLUTION – 2019: On the Evil of Sexual Abuse. Birmingham, AL – 2019 – at SBC Annual Meeting, June 11-12, 2019.

RESOLUTION – 2019: On Local Church Autonomy and Accountability. Birmingham, AL – 2019 – at SBC Annual Meeting, June 11-12, 2019. This is of particular relevance to any eventual Credentials Committee actions related to churches deemed not in good-faith cooperation with the spirit of the SBC on issues of abuse.

BLOG POST: Sex Abuse in the SBC and Taking Steps To Stop It, by Wade Burleson (Istoria Ministries Blog; June 12, 2019). Pastor Burleson is a former IMB trustee, and in this post he details some of the events surrounding #SBC19, the resolution on sexual abuse, and issues surrounding the release of the full IMB report from Gray Plant Mooty.

LIFEWAY STATEMENT ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CASE ARREST. Statement by LifeWay Acting CEO Brad Waggoner (June 14, 2019). Excerpt:

A 2019 camp staffer with LifeWay Christian Resources was arrested this week in Overgaard, Ariz., by the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.

Noah Paradis, 19, who served as a summer staffer at a LifeWay camp has been charged with multiple felony counts of child molestation. The alleged abuse of two minors occurred at Bison Ranch Retreat Center during CentriKid Camp, a ministry of LifeWay. Paradis’ LifeWay camp involvement was limited to the week of June 10-14. As soon as the company was informed of the charges, LifeWay terminated his employment.

[…]

When leaders were informed of the incident at the camp, they immediately notified state authorities, and the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the parents of the victims were contacted.

TWITTER RESOURCE THREAD: PAIGE PATTERSON/SWBTS LAWSUIT. “In case you are interested in this lawsuit, here are key current reports and documents, and then background resources gathered together a year ago on Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB).” Posted by @futuristguy on June 22, 2019. Links to primary sources such as lawsuit court documents, and news report, analysis, and an extensive list of abuse survivor blog sources and posts from 2018-2019 especially.

ERLC ARTICLE: 7 updates on the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group’s ongoing efforts, by Phillip Bethancourt (September 10, 2019). Opening paragraph, and list of seven efforts by SAAG:

The SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group (SAAG) has continued to work diligently throughout the summer. As SBC President J.D. Greear said at the 2019 annual meeting, “Our efforts on abuse don’t end here in Birmingham. This is just the beginning of a long journey together.” In an effort to keep Southern Baptists up to speed on the Advisory Group’s efforts, here is a brief update on recent developments.

  1. “Sexual Abuse and the Southern Baptist Convention” event
  2. SAAG report
  3. Actions at the SBC annual meeting
  4. Church Cares curriculum
  5. Caring Well report
  6. Caring Well Conference
  7. Caring Well Challenge

ERLC CONFERENCE, October 3-5, 2019; Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Grapevine, TX. “Caring Well: Equipping Churches to Confront the Abuse Crisis.”

TWITTER THREAD ON REPORTED DEFAMATORY STATEMENTS BY BAPTIST PRESS AGAINST JENNIFER LYELL. At one of the last sessions of the ERLC conference, abuse survivor/advocate and lawyer Rachael Denhollander raised issues about specific sexual abuse survivors in SBC settings whose cases needed to be raised in public awareness.

One such case involved Jennifer Lyell, an employee at LifeWay, who went public a year earlier with her being abused by David Sills, a former professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ms. Lyell went to the Baptist Press (BP) with the account of her experiences, but BP reportedly misused her material, changed their article without notice after Ms. Lyell had given her approval, and used inappropriate language that implied consensual sexual involvement when that was not the case. This led to additional trauma to Ms. Lyell who had already suffered from sexual abuse.

For the full conversation, see the ERLC video, What Is a Girl Worth?: A conversation with Rachael Denhollander and Russell Moore on the Church’s Abuse Crisis. Details about Ms. Lyell’s situation begin approximately 5 minutes into the video.

Ms. Denhollander followed up that same day (October 5) via Twitter with a thread sharing additional details and sources. It included a link to an official Baptist Press statement posted October 5, 2019, on Twitter by Jonathan Howe, Vice President for Communications, SBC Executive Committee. (Notes: Baptist Press is under the authority of the Executive Committee. The About Baptist Press webpage notes: “Baptist Press is supported by contributions from Southern Baptists to the SBC Cooperative Program.)

I am copying here her entire thread of six tweets because this provides a significant case study of how an official SBC entity responded in many of the worst ways possible to Jennifer Lyell and Debbie Vasquez — “some of our own” — who came forward to report sexual abuse in SBC settings. (Notes: I’ve added numbers for reference purposes and to give specific links. I’ve also added a screenshot of the BP statement. Other than that, I have not changed or edited Ms. Denhollander’s texts.)

Tweet #1. What I referenced today about the Baptist Press’ defamatory statements regarding @jenlyell and her abuser, former SBTS prof. David Sills, was the tip of the iceberg. The BP trampled on a survivor and shielded a VIOLENT sexual predator who then sought new employment. *thread [Link to Baptist Press statement.]

Tweet #2. Jennifer has BEGGED the @baptistpress for months to correct this. High ranking SBC leaders who were directly involved in stopping Sills, have interceded for her. All to no avail. Members of the Executive Committee were involved in this.

Tweet #3. This isn’t the first time in recent history that @baptistpress has done this. They did the same thing to survivor Debbie Vasquez, who became pregnant at 17 through rape by her SBC pastor. Debbie also begged them to correct this, to no avail. He is still a pastor.

Tweet #4. These survivors are owed our deepest gratitude for speaking up at such personal cost, to try to save others. And they have been lied about, maligned and defamed, to their great harm. They are owed far, far more than an apology.

Tweet #5. They, and the SBC members are owed a thorough investigation by a qualified, trusted group to determine exactly who failed and why. And those leaders must be held accountable. There is no excuse.

Tweet #6. I sincerely hope that the statement issued today is a mere beginning, because the specific repentance, deep grief, and acknowledgment of the serious, deliberate wrong was not present today.

SBC CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE – COMPLIANCE/COOPERATION GUIDELINES. In early December 2019, the SBC Credentials Committee revealed its guidelines for reporting churches not in compliance/”friendly cooperation” with the convention on sexual abuse/coverups, racism, and/or matters of faith or practice. This sparked a range of reactions. Especially prominent were arguments that this contravened traditional SBC doctrines of local church autonomy (sometimes abbreviated LCA in online discussions).

This will likely continue as a significant issue of discussion and debate in 2020, as insiders and outsiders both consider a wide range of implications. For instance:

  • What does “cooperation” mean? What are the parameters and boundaries to it?
  • Does local church autonomy inevitably mean isolation instead of independence or interdependence?
  • How has autonomy been misused to excuse pastoral control over a congregation (which is authoritarianism, not genuine autonomy), and how can that be corrected?
  • How do we encourage and ensure that people report known/suspected situations of abuse to the proper law enforcement authorities, in a timely manner?
  • How will the SBC protect those individuals who report sexually abusive or racially discriminatory churches via the Credential Committees process?
  • Is this “too little, too late”? Or is it too much?

The following selection of chronological articles from March through December 2019 give key facts about the SBC Credentials Committee and any comments on them give a relatively representative range of reactions to various controversial aspects of the Committee and its reporting process. I chose articles — especially from SBC Voices and The Wartburg Watch — as they tend to bring in comments from readers who would not be on Twitter.

Constitutional Amendment? Credentials Committee? How Shall We Address Sexual Abuse in the SBC?, by Dave Miller (March 13, 2019; SBC Voices).

, by William Thornton (May 31, 2019; SBC Voices).

Credentials Committee elects Stacy Bramlett as chair, by Art Toalston (July 23, 2019; Baptist Press News).

, by Brent Hobbs (December 3, 2019; SBC Voices).

Jules Woodson and the SBC Credentials Committee: The Process Is Not Victim-centric or Transparent. Caveat Emptor, by Dee Parsons (November 15, 2019; The Wartburg Watch).

SBC Credentials Committee establishes online submission portal, by BP Staff (December 3, 2019; Baptist Press News).

, by William Thornton (December 4, 2019; SBC Voices).

The Credentials Committee: A Call for Patience, Guest Post by Susan Codone and Megan Lively (December 5, 2019; SBC Voices).

Why I Believe We Should Be Downright Impatient With The SBC’s Credentials Committee Which Has Released Their Submissions Protocols, by Dee Parsons (December 6, 2019; The Wartburg Watch).

, by William Thornton (December 7, 2019; SBC Voices). This post is in answer to the question, Who should I contact if I were or knew of a victim of abuse in an SBC church or at the hands of a minister serving in an SBC church and wanted something done?

Sex abuse response, entity transitions top 2019 stories, by Tobin Perry (December 19, 2019; Baptist Press News).

  • Story #1 – sexual abuse, Abuse of Faith, Caring Well
  • Story #5 – amendments to SBC constitution regarding “friendly cooperation” issues of sexual abuse and discrimination. (Require second 2/3 majority vote at 2020 Annual Meeting in order to be adopted.) Credentials committee changed to standing committee.

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NOTE: I do not expect to keep updating this site with additional materials and links beyond December 2019, but may add items if so inclined.

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