This past week pulled a cloud over our denomination–a cloud that I fear will not go away anytime soon and must bring about repentance and restoration. The messengers at our 2021 Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Nashville last June required our Southern Baptist Executive Committee to conduct an investigation into the nature of many sexual abuse charges that, though they had come to their attention, seemed to be unaddressed and, even worse, covered up. Who is this Executive Committee, you might ask? It’s a team that basically runs much of the administrative business of our denomination between the annual meetings themselves.
Whenever investigations took place, they would take place internally. Yet the victims much more often than not did not get a hearing or receive justice as needed. The messengers of our convention, representing 44,000 congregations of all sizes, pressed and pressed for a third-party investigation team to come in. Many on the Executive Committee resigned and expressed a concern that we would lose our insurance and legal representation (none of which happened by the way). Now that the report has come out, listing some of what was not done, many inside our denomination have been rocked and those outside of our denomination (and unbelievers) look on and say, “See, they are no better than anyone else!”
Thankfully, many churches (along with ours in the weeks ahead) and state conventions are putting things in place to make sure that those who need justice, love, care, and protection in the name of Christ will have that from us.
This, along with the two shootings: one in Buffalo and one in Uvalde, TX, are reminders. The shooting in Buffalo took place at a Tops supermarket that that community worked hard to get–and the first supermarket in an area that has been called a “food desert,” where healthy and affordable food is accessible in a low-income area. Police say that the shooter was a “white supremacist” who sought to target black people. In Uvalde, 21 were killed in an elementary school (19 students and two teachers). One article described it this way:
It was a typical Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, as students and teachers at Robb Elementary School wound down the school year, with graduation set for the weekend. In the morning, the school celebrated its honor roll, but shortly after, the bright futures of 19 young students and two teachers were tragically cut short.
An 18-year-old gunman wearing body armor crashed his car in a ditch near the school, then, after getting past law enforcement, entered a classroom and locked himself inside.
All this, on top of the reaction by some at hearing that Roe v. Wade will be overturned–our hearts are saddened, burdened, and (to use an old King James expression) feel a “righteous indignation.” When we look at the three requirements, these requirements did not stay with religious activities but with a relationship with God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.