RALEIGH, N.C.(BP) – Former Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear says he’s encouraged by the SBC’s bottom-up structure putting power in the hands of lay members.
“I want to be in a convention where the people have the power. Because like we see, usually it is the leaders who go corrupt more quickly than the people,” he said in a May 30 special broadcast of his Ask Me Anything podcast.
Among the family of some 50,000 Southern Baptist churches and missions, pastors are leading their congregations in responding to the messenger-commanded Guidepost Solutions report of the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations spanning two decades.
”We recognize that when you have unchecked power in the hands of a few, as it was in the case of the SBC – you’ve got corruption there – it’s a people that hold accountable the leaders, rather than vice versa,” Greear said. “This report reveals some significant leaders who abused their power to protect the institution, to protect their own power.”
Lament, repentance and change are recurring sentiments expressed in sermons and public statements from pastors of churches of varying sizes and influence.
“This is primarily a time for us to lament and to repent where we have failed,” said Greear, senior pastor of The Summit Church based in Durham, N.C. “I think the posture we all have to have is a posture of brokenness and a posture of grieving.”
SBC President Ed Litton updated his congregation May 29 following the May 22 release of the Guidepost report.
“I lamented the sin and failures it exposed regarding our convention’s handling of sexual abuse cases and our lack of compassion toward survivors” he told Baptist Press May 31. “I also urged our people to be in prayer that the SBC would take the appropriate next steps going forward and that God would change our culture to make all of our churches and institutions safe places for survivors and the vulnerable.
“Moreover, I encouraged them to expect our own church (Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala.) to continue to review our policies and procedures to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our people and prevent abuse.”
Congregations large and small, including First Baptist Church of Sulphur, La., First Baptist Church of Fairmont, N.C., and First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn., received pastoral guidance after the report’s release.
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Huntersville, N.C., pastors Grant Gaines and Ronnie Parrott, who authored the motion at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting calling for the independent investigation, led their congregations in lamenting, repenting and advocating for change at the upcoming 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15 in Anaheim, Calif.