SBC leaders respond to DOJ investigation

NASHVILLE (BP)—The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has been informed that the United States Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the SBC that will include “multiple SBC entities,” according to an Aug. 12 statement from all SBC entity leaders and SBC President Bart Barber.

“Individually and collectively, each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation,” the statement said.

The announcement comes two months after messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim passed a resolution On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse. Southern Baptists also voted overwhelmingly to adopt a report that approved recommendations toward addressing and preventing sexual abuse in the Convention.

The SBC spent nearly $2 million on an independent investigation conducted by Guidepost Solutions, which submitted its report in May. Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the SBC, has committed $4 million for the implementation of messenger-approved actions and to support survivors of sexual abuse.

Requests for comment from Guidepost Solutions and the DOJ were not returned by the time of publication. This story will be updated to include information as it becomes available.

In the statement, SBC leaders say they will comply with the DOJ’s request.

“Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse,” the leaders said, adding that their willingness to cooperate should send the message that they are taking sexual abuse seriously.

“While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future,” the statement said. “The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.”

They asked for prayer and for God’s wisdom as they proceed.

“While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead. Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation,” they wrote.

The statement is signed by:

Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bart Barber, President, SBC

Paul Chitwood, President, International Mission Board

James K. Dew, President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

D. Hance Dilbeck, Jr., President, Guidestone Financial Resources

Kevin Ezell, President, North American Mission Board

Adam W. Greenway, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jeff Iorg, President, Gateway Seminary

Brent Leatherwood, Acting President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Ben Mandrell, President, Lifeway Christian Resources

Willie D. McLaurin, Interim President, SBC Executive Committee

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sandra Wisdom-Martin, Executive Director, Woman’s Missionary Union

The full statement is posted below:

The SBC Executive Committee recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities.

Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation. While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future. The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.

We recognize our reform efforts are not finished. In fact, those efforts are continuing this very moment as the recently announced Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force begins its work and as each entity has strengthened its efforts to protect against abuse. Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse.

While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead.

Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Scott Barkley
National Correspondent
Scott Barkley
Baptist Press
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