At an annual meeting that saw what chief parliamentarian Barry McCarty called an “extra heavy volume of business” on its opening day, the Southern Baptist Convention elected J.D. Greear as convention president and heard an address by Vice President Mike Pence.
Amid the national #MeToo movement, messengers to the June 12-13 SBC annual meeting in Dallas affirmed the dignity and worth of women and heard reports of policies SBC seminaries have enacted to address any allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. Several motions and messenger questions related to the May 30 firing of former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, who allegedly mishandled a 2003 report of sexual assault at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary during his presidency there.
The unofficial messenger registration total of 9,637 was up 92 percent from last year’s 5,015 in Phoenix and marked the highest total since 2010. Messengers presented 20 motions during two 15-minute slots for the introduction of new motions. In addition, messengers attempted to amend reports and recommendations and raised points of order.
McCarty told Baptist Press “the Committee on Order of Business, parliamentarians and attorneys had to work double time to process the high volume of motions. But the real pressure came in correctly handling a couple of complex and controversial motions,” including one to remove trustees from office at Southwestern.
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., received 68.62 percent of the vote for president. Ken Hemphill, a North Greenville University administrator and former Southwestern Seminary president, received 31.19 percent.
At a press conference following his election, Greear said his priorities as president will include Gospel focus, diversity, evangelism, church planting, collegiate ministry and engaging younger Baptists in the SBC’s cooperative mission. He also said women should “sit at the seats of influence” in the convention and that Southern Baptist entities and churches must be “safe places for women to report abuse.”
Pence’s June 13 address called Southern Baptists to pray for America and commended the SBC as “one of the greatest forces for good” in the world. The vice president drew multiple standing ovations as he spoke of the sanctity of human life and Israel among other issues.
Prior to Pence’s appearance, messengers made two motions to amend the convention’s agenda to exclude the vice president’s address. The first attempt was defeated by messenger vote, and the second was ruled out of order because the convention had already dealt with the issue. Two motions referred to the Executive Committee sought to prevent political leaders from addressing future SBC annual meetings. A point of order Wednesday expressing opposition to Pence’s address was ruled “not well taken” by the chair.
Women & abuse
Two resolutions addressed the dignity and protection of women: one “on the dignity and worth of women on the one hundredth anniversary of women as messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention” and another “on abuse.”
Two motions on protecting churches from sexual predators were referred to the Executive Committee, as was a motion asking the EC to study biblical authority for a woman to serve as SBC president. All six SBC seminary presidents addressed the issue of sexual abuse and misconduct during their reports.
Two seminary presidents — Chuck Kelley of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — said the institutions they lead believe the Bible’s teaching on gender precludes women from service in some faculty roles, although women hold teaching and administrative roles at both seminaries. Kelley said women do not serve as preaching professors at New Orleans Seminary, and Mohler said women do not serve as professors in the School of Theology at Southern.
During the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission report, ERLC President Russell Moore announced the ERLC will partner with LifeWay Research to conduct a study on the extent of abuse in churches.
Beyond the convention floor, a panel discussion in the SBC exhibit hall considered “sexual abuse in the church” and the ERLC sponsored a panel discussion on “Gospel sexuality in a #MeToo culture.”
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Source: Baptist Press