Many in the denomination had pushed for the investigation and warned that it was letting its members down by not responding to allegations of abuse as the accused serial abusers moved from church to church.
According to the investigation, a secret list was kept by certain leaders.
“Today we will choose between humility or pride,” Frank said. “We will choose between genuine repentance or a passive attitude in our approach to sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. We will choose between doing our best for the glory of God and for the good of the people or we will choose, once again, business as usual.
Frank thanked the survivors of sexual abuse who were in the audience for their perseverance, patience, grace and determination.
“You are the heroes in this room,” he said to widespread applause from messengers at the annual meeting.
Nearly 40 Georgia pastors, staff and volunteers were included in the Guidepost report.
For some, the recommendations did not go far enough.
Survivor Christa Brown, a retired attorney who lives in Colorado, called it “a very, very small step and I’m disappointed.”
Brown, who did not attend the conference, said she was sexually abused by her church’s youth and education minister, beginning when she was 16. This accused minister later moved to a Southern Baptist church in the Atlanta area.
She said the recommendations were very limited and that the structure of the database is “not at all survivor-friendly. It’s very church centric…that will make it more dangerous for the survivors and that’s not what the survivors proposed. ”
That’s a problem, said Frank, who has been smoldering at the SBC for at least 15 years. In 2019, a Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News investigation found that hundreds of SBC church leaders and volunteers had been credibly accused of sexual abuse, many of which involved minors.
Based on Alpharetta Send Relief, a global ministry, has committed a total of $4 million to this effort, which breaks down into $3 million to fund what the SBC Executive Committee estimates it will need to carry out reforms on the combating sexual abuse and an additional $1 million for survivor care. funds, providing trauma counseling to survivors and training to pastors, churches, local associations and state conventions.
The funds would come from Send Relief’s undesignated funds.
“Southern Baptists mourn survivors of abuse and seek ways to better protect children and families. Send Relief wants to be part of the solutions outlined by the SBC Task Force on Sexual Abuse,” according to a statement signed by the Reverend Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief; Kevin Ezell, chairman of the North American Mission Board; and Paul Chitwood, chairman of the International Mission Board
Send Relief is led by Wright, former SBC President and retired Senior Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta and is a collaboration between NAMB and IMB,
Johnny Hunt, until his resignation last month, served as senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at NAMB and once led First Baptist Church in Woodstock. Hunt was cited in the Guidepost Solution report for allegedly sexually assaulting the wife of a fellow pastor, which he denied, calling it consensual.
Frank said the stories of abuse that have surfaced are just the tip of the iceberg, according to Baptist Press.
“You will get the phone call,” he told the messengers. “It is not a word of prophecy. It’s just math.
Another important order for the messengers was the election of a new president.
The winner was Texas pastor Bart Barber, who got 61% of the vote. Barber succeeds Ed Litton, who did not seek a second one-year term, the first time a president has not run in decades.
Barber’s win over Florida’s more conservative Tom Ascol was seen as a positive step for the denomination to move forward against abuse of address. Ascol, who also complained of too much revival in the denomination and spoke out against critical race theory, acceptance of the LGBTQ community and women as pastors.
A late entry for the presidential spot was Georgia pastor Reverend Frank Cox of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville.