The task force approved by messengers had a wide mandate.
“Said task force shall ensure that the third-party review 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,” the motion for the task force read.
Discussion of the proposal was passionate.
Gaines argued that since the Executive Committee was being investigated, the committee could not be in charge of the investigation.
Troy Bush, the pastor of Rehoboth Baptist in Georgia, agreed.
“We believe that the Executive Committee does not have the ability to handle this task force investigation,” he said.
Sarah Gregory, a messenger from First Southern Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Idaho, disagreed with the motion, saying it was unbiblical.
“The Holy Spirit does not need the Southern Baptist Convention to be judge and jury in these matters,” she said. “The local body of believers is responsible and accountable to God, in these matters, and no one else.”
A West Virginia messenger said Southern Baptists deserve to know the truth about abuse. The messenger read from a Bible story about the people of Israel being defeated because they had sin in their midst.
“God’s people did not have victory because they had not dealt with their sin,” the messenger said.
Floyd told messengers the Executive Committee believed the motion would make the denomination stronger.
“I want all of you to know I hear you,” he said. “The Executive Committee respects the messengers. We need this deliberative process. We know that this will make our convention stronger.”
The request for the task force comes on the day after Southern Baptists adopted a resolution that stated the messengers believe “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor.” They also recommended affiliated Southern Baptist churches apply this standard to all church leaders.
Nathan Finn, the vice chair of the resolutions committee, said the resolution served as a way to supplement the procedural votes to address abuse that have occurred during the meeting.
“We felt like this is a way that we can come alongside all the positive momentum that says our first instinct needs to be to care for those who have been abused more than protecting our own reputation,” he said during a Wednesday news conference with resolution committee members.
Adelle M. Banks contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared here.