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SBC President Bart Barber Says Implementation Task Force Strengthened by Different Perspectives, Backgrounds

Bowen, a retired lawyer, has worked with Alabama Baptists’ sexual abuse task force. Eubank is a sexual abuse survivor who leads Mississippi Baptists’ efforts. Nelson serves as president of the Missouri Baptist Convention and has also led in that state convention’s abuse reform response. Blalock and Keahbone are chair and vice chair of the ARITF.

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The perspectives of large and smaller churches are considered as well, according to Barber. Jarrett Stephens has led Champion Forest Baptist in Houston to more than 12,000 attendees across three campuses, including the largest Spanish congregations in the SBC. Due to their size, such churches have had to implement policies and procedures that may be new for many smaller churches across the Convention, Barber said.

Catawba Valley Baptist Church in Morganton, N.C. would represent those more normative-sized churches. It’s where ARITF member Cyndi Lott’s husband, Jesse, serves as transitional pastor following a long pastoral career.

“I started absolutely determined to make sure that the perspective of our smaller churches would be represented on this task force,” said Barber. “We desperately need people who are representing that point of view because those churches face a totally different set of realities that have to do with their supply of volunteers and financial resources.”

Cyndi Lott is also a retired teacher who has experience in observing and reporting suspected accounts of abuse.

It’s not a given that the Lotts voted for him in Anaheim, according to Barber. Jesse Lott has posted concerns on Twitter over a drift toward liberalism in the SBC as well as voicing his support for former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor David Allen’s account of departing the Fort Worth school after 18 years.

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“It’s my job to be president of all Southern Baptists,” said Barber. “As I told you, I deliberately tried to structure this task force in such a way that all the discussion that we would have on the floor in the annual meeting, we’d be able to have in the task force among people who are committed to the task of addressing sexual abuse.”

It will be important to consult Southern Baptist polity in implementing reforms, said Barber. Southwestern Seminary professor Gregory A. Wills’ background will prove invaluable for that purpose.