Rice described Stone as an independent thinker with “courageous conviction, a pastor with a shepherd’s heart, and somebody who understands the SBC and the issues of this hour that we face.”
“I have reluctantly, but clearly come to believe that our convention is facing an existential crisis that could irreparably damage our cooperative work,” Rice said, going on to express his belief that if a course correction doesn’t happen soon, the Cooperative Program may not survive much longer.
Rice said that he once believed in the SBC’s sexual abuse reform movement, but now feels
that the “movement, as currently engineered, threatens the very fabric of our fellowship.”
“For reasons I’ve written about before, I was an enthusiastic proponent of this reform movement,” Rice continued. “At long last Southern Baptists were having an open conversation to deal with issues of sexual abuse and possessed the will and momentum to act. Like so many, I supported such efforts believing we were going to address child sexual abuse and predators. But where we’re at isn’t what I signed up for.”
The sexual abuse reform movement should have “united” SBC churches to “attack the problem,” but instead, it has divided Christian brothers and sisters into “attacking one another,” Rice said.
Stone is one of the few people in the SBC who understands what has “gone wrong and knows how to right the direction,” Rice argued, adding that as a sexual abuse survivor, Stone knows firsthand the horror of such a violation and what it feels like to be unfairly attacked.
Rice said that Stone possesses the “strength to stand in this current moment and the wisdom to know what to do.”
Sharing that Stone assured him that he would continue to build on the work of sexual abuse reform, Rice said that equipping SBC churches with training and tools is the best thing the SBC can do to protect those who are vulnerable to abuse.
Rice said that Stone will only appoint sexual abuse reform task force members “who care about the work and health of our churches and will guide us to a thoughtful approach that can unite our churches, not divide them.”