J.D. Greear on Tackling Sex Abuse and Racial Division in the Southern Baptist Convention

Although every major numerical indicator of success for the Southern Baptist Convention is trending downward, you would never know it from the tone in J.D. Greear’s voice. From the moment the exclusive interview with Christian Headlines started, J.D. Greear, who is the youngest ever Southern Baptist Convention president, had a tone of excitement and encouragement for the denomination that has weathered a series of tough terrain during his first year as its head. It is something that Greear does not shy away from addressing.

“It’s been challenging and difficult at times, but inspiring to see what God is doing within the 48,000 Southern Baptist Churches,” the SBC president told CH. During his first year as president, it was uncovered by the Houston Chronicle that a number of Southern Baptist churches and pastors had concealed sexual abuse issues.

According to Greear, “We do not want to create a safe place within our churches for anyone who is not there for the right reasons.” There have been some within the denomination who have not agreed with Greear and the policies that he has developed in handling the sexual abuse cases. Greear, however, believes that he did the right thing, and a vast majority of Southern Baptists agree with him. “Handling this issue was a gospel issue for me,” Greear shared.

One thing that many notice about the SBC president is that he is a man who leads with comfort and ease, even in areas such as race. This year, there were six convention agencies that were vacant. There were some within the denomination who thought the convention should find people of color to fill these spots. The convention president has no authority in how agency heads are chosen. Instead, it is left up to the trustees of those agencies.

Ultimately, people of color were not chosen to fill the vacant spots. In response to this, Greear said, “I can understand where some of that discouragement comes from, and I feel it too.” Greear, who is responsible for the placement of denominational committee members, made it his mission to bring about racial and gender inclusion. This year, the convention will be filled by the largest ethnic diversity make up ever, as 48 percent of the members will be people of color and women.

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Source: Christian Headlines