SBC Executive Board Directors’ Perspective on September Meeting
Editor’s Note – The following is an perspective article shared with The Alabama Baptist by Melissa Golden, Director of the SBC Alabama Executive Committee. She was elected by messengers in June and is one of Alabama’s five directors. The Board of Directors of the Executive Committee has a total of 86 members.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain vanity, but in humility, count others more important than yourself. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others ”(Philippians 2: 3-4).
Holy Spirit, will you plant and grow this charge of compassion, love and humility in my own heart and in the hearts of all who claim Jesus as Messiah?
My friends, our collective and collective grief for the shattering of our world, our communities, our churches, our families and ourselves is overwhelming. It is just too much to bear. Our hearts are broken and we experience feelings of sadness, indignation, loss, hopelessness, fatigue, weariness, doubt and confusion. As a concerned fighter, let me suggest that these are normal reactions to abnormal circumstances.
My own heart is also heavy and overwhelmed by the process that we are all over here (with the SBC executive committee). My heart cries out to God for hope, truth, comfort, discernment, courage, steadfastness and love. I am sure that I am not alone in these calls to our faithful God.
“Bias and breaking”
My heart, like yours, is overwhelmed with the votes, comments, conversations, motions, questions, and interpretations of each of these things communicated to our churches and our world regarding the September Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee meeting. As we know, each of these interpretations (as well as mine) comes with a bias and a breaking point.
As I read the interpretations of this week’s events, I find many things as true as I remember and interpret them as such. I find what I believe to be well-meaning misunderstandings, and I find what I believe to be feelings of intense grief and mourning that overshadow what I remember and interpret to be true.
In addition to reading, I lamented, prayed and dealt with. Holy Father, give us all spiritual and pious discernment, even in my own writings and treatments, to recognize the truth, seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it means putting our own interests / prejudices / agendas on hold in order to to stand up for YOUR truth.
Three takeaways from the meeting
In my own treatment of the recent reunion, I’ll share three of my quick takeaways:
- The Southern Baptist Convention and all of its entities are a missionary movement. Our ultimate goal is to reach our entire world for Christ.
- Many wonderful things, ordained by God, were celebrated in the meeting, including:
- The International Mission Board reported reaching 1,400 unique groups of people internationally in 2020.
- Lifeway reported 1,400 salvation decisions among their summer camp participants.
- The North American Mission Board has indicated that this year is on track to be the largest year of giving to date.
- The most anticipated item on the agenda was to launch the Sexual Abuse Working Group in its work to bring the darkness to light. Expectations of signing an agreement, including waiving attorney-client privilege for the executive committee over the past 21 years, have been astronomical. In our rush, some of us overlooked other important parts of this discussion, including:
- The Sexual Abuse Working Group has received the vote and the necessary funds for the Executive Committee to begin its work as directed by our SBC messengers.
- Many legal details of the investigative agreement, including the intricate details of how, when and whether to waive solicitor-client privilege, depending on the legal ramifications of several available options, are currently being worked out. ‘review in conjunction with the leadership of the Executive Committee, the Sex Abus Task Force and GuidePost, LLC, the organization selected to conduct the review. Everyone at the meeting seemed to be willing to do it.
- The complex legal details being negotiated are more complex than the question “Will they do what they have been told to do or not?” There seem to be many pieces to this important legal puzzle that require a great deal of prayer, counseling, patience, and multi-professional expertise in order to provide an acceptable and honest investigation.
- I understand and hope the group will make a “good faith effort” to solve this daunting puzzle.
My friends, you have heard words like “We want to do it and we want to do it right”. Those words may have caused pain and rolling eyes. These words may have aroused fear, despair or outrage. You may have experienced each of these and many more. It is my sincere prayer and I hope that these words become acts of integrity, which we can see in the days to come. Oh, my God, bring the real darkness into the real light, for your glory only.
“A long and heartbreaking process”
Dear friends, this is and will continue to be a long and heart-wrenching legal process. The legal issues involved appear to have important present and possible future ramifications for each cooperating entity and each local self-governing church in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention. These matters cannot be taken lightly and decisions cannot be made quickly.
May I humbly encourage you to pray that God will redeem the broken pieces. Please pray that his hand is on us allas we go along. May I ask you to pray that the Lord will reign over every affected person, every decision made, every interview conducted, every story shared, every dollar spent, every report shared and that every heart will be prepared by God alone to confess and repent as we represent Christ and seek to glorify his name alone.
Again, as a concerned fighter, may I encourage you to take several good, deep breaths to slow down the stress hormones that are swirling in your brain right now. Can I encourage you to thank your Savior for something special or kind that He has given you today, and can I encourage you to work to continually let go of your fears, your grief, your anger, your confusion? and your doubts. I undertake to join you in these requests.
Father, remind us that you alone are in control and that you care deeply about each person, for we are all made in your picture.
—Melissa Golden, Director of the Executive Committee of SBC Alabama