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SBC Apologizes to Sexual Abuse Survivors, Reaffirms Pro-Life Beliefs in Resolutions Adopted at Annual Meeting

Pictured: Resolutions Committee Vice Chair Dana McCain and Resolutions Committee Chairman Bart Barber at press conference following adoption of resolutions (photo by Dale Chamberlain)

Messengers at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Anaheim, California, voted to adopt nine resolutions, including an apology to sexual abuse survivors within the denomination that specifically addressed survivors named in the Sexual Abuse Task Force’s (SATF) report on the Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations from 2000 to 2021. 

Other resolutions adopted included a reaffirmation of the SBC’s pro-life stance in anticipation of the possible overturn of Roe, a public condemnation of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a statement against the prosperity gospel, a denunciation of gun violence, and a call for gospel advancement in American rural areas.

Twenty-nine resolutions were submitted for consideration to the Resolutions Committee by SBC churches who were eligible to send messengers to the annual meeting. All nine resolutions the committee ultimately presented were adopted by the messengers via raised ballot vote. 

SBC Apologizes to Abuse Survivors

In a resolution titled “On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” the SBC said, “Sexual abuse is an abomination before God and an affront to the teachings of Scripture,” that “grieves Christ” and “is in violation of the Imago Dei, dishonoring and degrading human dignity.” Further, when that abuse is perpetrated by a pastor or church leader, sexual abuse “is a violation of the sacred trust for pastoral leaders and all believers to care for and minister to people.”

RELATED: Hiding Behind Issues of Polity, SBC Leaders Ignored, Silenced, Ostracized Sexual Abuse Victims for Years, Report Says

In light of these realities, the SBC has resolved to “denounce in the strongest possible terms every instance of sexual abuse, those who perpetrate abuse, and those who seek to defend or protect these perpetrators,” further resolving to “publicly lament the harm our actions and inactions have caused to survivors of sexual abuse” and “publicly apologize and ask forgiveness from survivors of sexual abuse for our failure to care well for survivors, for our failure to hold perpetrators of sexual abuse adequately accountable in our churches and institutions, for our institutional responses which have prioritized the reputation of our institutions over protections and justice for survivors, and for the unspeakable harm this failure has caused to survivors through both our action and inaction.”

The resolution further recognized the need for systemic change in the denomination with regard to addressing sexual abuse, a process that was begun last year with the formation of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and their launch of a third-party investigation, and was continued at the 2022 annual meeting when messengers overwhelmingly voted to adopt the SATF’s recommended reforms. 

The resolution also apologized, by name, to the abuse survivors who were named in the Guidepost Solutions report, whether they were called out by name in the report or referred to anonymously. The Resolutions Committee was granted permission by each survivor before their names were put in the resolution. 

Those names included: Christa Brown, Susan Codone, Megan Lively, Jennifer Lyell, Anne Marie Mille, David Pittman, Tiffany Thigpen, Debbie Vasquez, Hannah-Kate Williams, and Jules Woodson. 

The Resolutions Committee gave special emphasis to this resolution when they presented it to messengers, with each member of the Resolutions Committee and the Sexual Abuse Task Force standing on stage during its presentation as a sign of solidarity and corporate repentance. 

The SBC also adopted a resolution titled “On Support for Consistent Laws Regarding Pastoral Sexual Abuse,” advocating for laws that would “empower churches by shielding them from civil liability when they share information about alleged abuse with other organizations or institutions.” 

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