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Key Leaders Named in Guidepost Report Respond

Photo courtesy of Baptist Press.

NASHVILLE (BP) – The names of numerous Southern Baptist leaders appeared throughout the lengthy report made available May 22 by Guidepost Solutions on the subject of sexual abuse allegations and the SBC Executive Committee. Although at differing levels of involvement today, each factored into the investigation’s scope of Jan. 1, 2000, through June 14, 2021.

Below are the names of some key leaders mentioned as well as the context in which the report places them and their responses to the report. Full statements are below the story.

D. August “Augie” Boto. Served the EC from 1995-2019 as vice president for convention policy, executive vice president and general counsel. He also served for just over a year as interim EC president following the departure of Frank Page in 2018. Boto was prominent among senior EC staff members whose “main concern was avoiding any potential liability for the SBC,” the report said. Boto did not respond to BP’s request for a statement.

Roger “Sing” Oldham. EC vice president for convention communications and relations, 2007-2019. In a May 2019 email, Oldham told then-new EC President Ronnie Floyd that he had been sending regular updates for the “the past decade” to Boto of news reports of Baptist ministers arrested for sexual abuse. By August 2018, the list contained the names of 585 possible abusers.

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“From time to time we considered whether hosting a web page with published news stories about ministers or church volunteers arrested for a variety of matters, including sexual misconduct, would be a helpful resource to assist churches in their hiring processes,” Oldham told BP.

A determination was eventually made that the National Sex Offender Registry through the Department of Justice was a better option, as it was “much more extensive than anything we could create, and was already posted on our website,” he said.

Jim Guenther. Legal counsel for the Executive Committee with Guenther, Jordan & Price. The firm announced the end of its 56-year professional relationship with the EC on Oct. 11, 2021, shortly after the EC voted to waive attorney-client privilege in the Guidepost investigation.

Guenther advised Boto and other EC leaders on matters the report deemed to be “in a manner that involved the mistreatment of survivors” and for them to avoid eliciting further details about reports of abuse in order to protect the EC’s liability. In 2007, he proposed a plan where the SBC website would link to a database listing those believed to have been engaged in sexual misconduct, but ultimately no action was taken.

While expressing appreciation for Guidepost’s efforts to cover 20 years in a single report, a statement from Guenther and Jaime Jorden of Guenther, Jordan and Price, PC said the document “contains misstatements of fact and quotations from us which are misleading because they are reported out of context.”

Specifically, the statement expressed sharp disagreement “with many of the characterizations in the report and its assignment of ill will and bad motives to men and women of the Executive Committee who struggled year after year with complex issues” as well as “the lack of understanding the report shows for the role and responsibility of legal counsel.”

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Ronnie Floyd. Elected EC president and CEO in April 2019, stepped down effective Oct. 31, 2021. Floyd, longtime pastor of Cross Church in Springfield, Ark., was also elected SBC president in 2014 and 2015. Floyd maintained in a series of EC meetings last fall that waiving attorney-client privilege went against the group’s fiduciary duty and offered his resignation shortly after trustees voted for the waiver.

“People reading the report may not realize that I supported the independent investigation,” Floyd told Baptist Press in a statement. “I also hired Guidepost to do it even before the 2021 Convention.

“Our fiduciary duties also required due diligence to understand the implications of ‘waiving attorney-client privilege.’ This was never an effort to resist or obstruct the investigation, but responsible governance.

“… From the beginning of my term as executive committee president, I helped guide the Convention to establishing the credentials committee and leading the effort to pass the amendment to the SBC Constitution focused on sexual abuse. May God lead the 2022 Convention to take the appropriate actions including the implementation of reforms.”

Frank Page. After serving two terms as SBC president in 2006 and 2007, Page was appointed EC president in 2010. He resigned in March 2018 after a “morally inappropriate relationship” with a woman in a church where he was serving as interim pastor. BP attempted to contact Page for a comment without success.

Johnny Hunt. Elected as SBC president in 2008 and 2009, Hunt was the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., before accepting a position with the North American Mission Board.