Southern Baptists Prep for Annual Meeting With Heavy Hearts, Cautious Hope

It was a fight to get the landmark abuse investigation to happen. Now, will the denomination be able to overcome divides to enact reforms?

Pastor Adam Wyatt was driving to a hospital visit in southern Mississippi last month when he began crying angry tears.

“I usually don’t do that,” said Wyatt, who had stayed up late the night before to read through the devastating 288-page report on Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders’ response to abuse.

“It’s been a long year.”

In June 2021, Wyatt was on his way to the previous SBC annual meeting in Nashville when he received a call to become the senior pastor of Corinth Baptist Church. By the time he left the meeting a few days later, he had another new title: Executive Committee (EC) trustee.

A second-generation Southern Baptist pastor with degrees from two SBC seminaries, Wyatt joined the EC—the decision-making body for day-to-day SBC business—just as scrutiny over its leaders’ response to abuse reached its pinnacle.

Wyatt was among the EC members who lobbied for the outside investigation to move forward with the level of transparency and accountability the convention had called for. Their efforts paid off. Guidepost Solutions issued 288 pages on EC leaders’ moves to dismiss survivors and reformers, and the EC released a hidden list of 700 pastors who’d been credibly accused of abuse.

Now, the Mississippi pastor is preparing for the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting, considered the most significant in a generation. Starting Tuesday, more than 8,500 Southern Baptists will meet in Anaheim, California, to decide what comes next: how to establish a process for reporting abuse, better policies for responding, and restitution for those harmed by SBC pastors.

In the wake of the revelations, the proposals once rejected outright by prior EC leaders as impossible …

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