How Will the SBC Move Forward After ‘Unprecedented’ Committee Exodus?

The Executive Committee is meeting for the first time since the contentious decision to turn over privileged documents in an ongoing abuse investigation.

When the Executive Committee (EC) of the Southern Baptist Convention gathers in Nashville this week, it will no longer face the contentious debate over waiving attorney-client privilege in an abuse investigation, the topic that dominated a contentious series of meetings last fall.

But it will be hard to ignore the fallout of that decision and how the disagreement highlighted deeper divides in the SBC.

Seventeen members of the Executive Committee have resigned since June. All but one left because of the conflict over waiving privilege in an investigation into the EC’s response to abuse. The choice to waive attorney-client privilege was approved near-unanimously by thousands of messengers at last year’s annual meeting.

Included among the resignations were committee officers Robyn Hari and Robert Showers. Three executives have also resigned since October: president Ronnie Floyd, executive vice president Greg Addison, and chief financial officer Jeff Pearson.

The departures were largely the result of the consequences EC members feared they could face due to waiving privilege, from losing insurance coverage to exposing the organization to legal liability that could bankrupt it.

About half of the resigning members indicated that the potential breach of fiduciary duty that might result from waiving privilege could put their professional status at risk, including attorneys, CPAs, a financial adviser, and a licensed counselor.

Southern Baptist historian and pastor Bart Barber told CT that thus far, none of the things about which members were warned have transpired.

“I know some of the people who stepped aside. I think they had been led to believe and genuinely held the belief that all of these risks were severe,” …

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