Southern Baptist Convention President Ed Litton shared a brief update with the SBC Executive Committee on behalf of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and urged the convention to remain “very sober” and “determined” as the investigation is still underway.
“The work is progressing,” Litton, the pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, said during the SBC’s second plenary session in Nashville Tuesday morning.
“Let me commend the staff of the EC for their cooperation on every level. The cooperation among the EC members, you may have had misgivings; I’ve heard people say, ‘I haven’t been a part of this, I’m new.’ Yet, you have cooperated. Continue to cooperate, and I would encourage you to do that. The process is working; it’s moving.”
Litton, elected president of the SBC last year, said the Committee on Cooperation — the committee that acts as a liaison between the Executive Committee, the Sexual Abuse Task Force and Guidepost Solutions — “has had a few challenges to help bring people together.”
But, he’s “happy to report that those challenges seem to be resolved and we are cooperating.”
“And the people that we’re asking to cooperate, at this point, are cooperating,” he added.
Later in the session, Litton fielded questions regarding the ongoing sexual abuse inquiry. The investigation, expected to be completed by June, concerns how the executive committee has handled abuse allegations against member churches over the past 21 years.
Last year, the committee approved a motion to waive attorney-client privilege in the wake of the investigation, prompting several members to resign, including the committee’s former head Ronnie Floyd and its legal team.
Hannah-Kate Williams, a survivor of alleged abuse and rape at the hands of her father, James Williams, an SBC pastor, asked Litton about addressing instances outside the scope of the investigation.
“The task force is charged with finding the agency that will do the investigation best; they’ve been transparent reporting everything through this,” Litton replied. “The report will have suggestions and recommendations, and that’s what they’re going to deal with. Of course, one of the things they’ll look at is how any decisions will fit into our polity and how we function as a convention.”
EC member Mike Keahbone told Williams the investigation’s report and how the EC responds “is not the ending of where we stand with sexual abuse; it’s the beginning.”
“You can bet that we’re going move forward aggressively with how to address that. … We are all committed to that,” he said.
On Feb. 7, the Sexual Abuse Task Force released an update on its work, revealing Guidepost Solutions had “reviewed and processed a substantial amount of information” pertinent to the investigation “through the review of documents and contacting and interviewing a substantial number” of current and former SBC committee members, staff and trustees.
“These interviews are essential in conducting a full, fair, and comprehensive investigation and assessment. They also provide an opportunity for interviewees to offer recommendations and provide feedback as to how the SBC EC can create a safer community going forward,” the report said.
On Tuesday, Litton said that Guidepost Solutions will send the results of its investigation to the Sexual Abuse Task Force 30 days before the June 12-15 annual meeting in Anaheim, California.
The Sexual Abuse Task Force will have a week to formulate recommendations, and then the findings will be released to the public.
“I would encourage you to allow the Lord to humble us and to embrace it,” Litton said. “Setting agendas aside, this is serious; people’s lives have been damaged, hurt, ruined. And I think we all need to remain very sober about this and yet determined.”
Litton prayed: “We pray for wisdom, Lord, that we as we said last night, would not just brace for the impact, but that we would embrace You to act and to do what is right, and Lord, that we know we are being scrutinized by You, above all. Lord, we ask you to move, move upon our hearts, our minds. Help us to reconcile things, help us to deal with this. And Lord, we know it is not a quick fix. And so we, Lord, ask that we would truly be transformed, that the culture of our great convention would become even more like Christ, for Your glory.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com