Southern Baptist Exec Mike Stone Says All Committee Members Are Looking to Deal With Issue of Sex Abuse

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Stone is chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, Ga.

NASHVILLE (BP) — I opened the February meeting of the Executive Committee with my own story of abuse. I had not shared it in 40 years, revealing it to my wife 48 hours earlier. Sharing it was one of the most difficult moments of my life. But I felt prompted by the Lord to reveal this pain so survivors would know they have an advocate in the EC chairman. Nobody in attendance that evening should question my unwavering resolve to deal with this issue as a leader in the Executive Committee.

But I believe that almost all of us, in our zeal, emotion and righteous anger have done some stumbling out of the gate. Whether by miscommunication or mistrust, few, if any, have handled this perfectly. Let’s own that, admit it, and come together.

As we begin a journey into this uncharted territory, we must get on the same page. Some argue that the president should not have named churches without contacting them. Others feel the Bylaws Workgroup responded too quickly, either in time or in result. Still others question whether the EC has any present authority to conduct inquiries at all.

But there is one thing that is beyond dispute in my mind: We seek the same goal. I haven’t spoken to a single member of the EC that isn’t willing to do all we can to address this evil and to seek the Convention’s approval to do some additional things we currently don’t have authorization to do.

In a desire to respond with urgency, the report of the Bylaws Workgroup appeared “rushed.” That’s an inaccurate but fair perception. The group doesn’t have the authority to do an investigation and did not claim to do one. And given the limited scope of authority and information, the preliminary report to the EC was as thorough as it could have been.

But an on-looking world, especially victims, doesn’t necessarily understand the limits of the workgroup’s authority and shouldn’t be expected to do so. It seemed like a two-day “investigation” despite wording to the contrary. So, questions of, “How did you do that so quickly?” or, “Why didn’t you talk to this person or that person?” are reasonable questions.

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Source: Baptist Press

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