Messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to expel churches accused of racial discrimination and mishandling cases of sexual abuse.
On the opening day of the largest protestant denomination’s annual meeting, held June 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama, messengers — the delegates selected from SBC member churches to attend the meeting — cast their votes in favor of amendments to the SBC’s constitution to state that discrimination based on ethnicity and instances of sexual abuse would put a church’s membership in peril, deeming it to be “not in friendly cooperation” with the convention.
Messengers also voted to amend the SBC’s bylaws to give the SBC’s Credentials Committee the power to investigate complaints against churches in instances of sexual abuse or racism and make recommendations for action.
After the votes, Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee, told messengers, “I believe this is a very significant moment in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. And I believe that every one of us needs to thank God for this moment,” the Baptist Press reported.
“May this world know that the Southern Baptist Convention stands against all forms of sexual abuse,” Floyd said. “May this world know that this convention of churches — 47,000 churches, plus a few thousand congregations, just under 52,000 churches and congregations — has given a clear signal not only about what we believe about sexual abuse, but we also stand against all ethnic discrimination in the United States and around the world.”
“The Credentials Committee will consist of nine members: the chairman of the Executive Committee; the SBC registration secretary; three members nominated by the Executive Committee; and four members nominated by the SBC Committee on Nominations,” the Baptist Press reported.
The SBC might also address the statute of limitations laws in abuse cases during this week’s annual meeting, according to The Houston Chronicle.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Melissa Barnhart