Many within the denomination had pushed for the investigation and warned that it was failing its members by not addressing abuse allegations as accused serial abusers moved from church to church.
According to the investigation, a secret list was kept by some in leadership.
“Today we will choose between humility or hubris,” Frank said. “We will choose between genuine repentance or continually being passive in our approach to sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. We will choose between doing the best for the glory of God and for the good of people or we will choose, again, business as usual.”
Frank thanked survivors of sexual abuse who were in the audience for their persistence, patience, grace and resolve.
“You are the heroes in this hall,” he said to widespread applause from messengers during the annual meeting.
Nearly 40 Georgia pastors, staffers 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 assaulted by her church’s youth and education minister, beginning when she was 16. That 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...It will make it more unsafe for survivors and this is not what survivors proposed. ”
It’s an issue, said Frank, that has been brewing in the SBC for at least 15 years. In 2019, a Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News investigation found hundreds of SBC church leaders and volunteers had been credibly accused of sex abuse, many involving minors.
Alpharetta-based Send Relief, global ministry, has committed a total of $4 million to the effort, which breaks down to $3 million to fund what the SBC Executive Committee estimates it will need to carry out reforms on addressing sexual abuse and another $1 million for a survivor care fund, providing trauma counseling for survivors and training for pastors, churches, local association and state conventions.
The funds would come from Send Relief’s undesignated funds.
“Southern Baptists are grieving for survivors of abuse and are seeking ways to better safeguard children and families. Send Relief wants to be part of the solutions outlined by the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force,” according to a statement signed by the Rev. Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief; Kevin Ezell , president North American Mission Board; and Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board
Send Relief is led by Wright, a former SBC president and retired senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta and is a collaboration between the NAMB and the IMB,
Johnny Hunt, until his resignation last month, served as senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at the NAMB and once led First Baptist Church in Woodstock. Hunt was cited in the Guidepost Solution’s report for allegedly sexually assaulting the wife of a fellow pastor, which he has denied, calling it consensual.
Frank said the abuse accounts that have surfaced are just the tip of the iceberg, according to the Baptist Press.
“You will get the phone call,” he told messengers. “That’s not a word of prophecy. That’s just math.”
Another big order for messengers was the election of a new president.
The winner was Texas pastor Bart Barber, who received 61% of the vote. Barber succeeds Ed Litton, who did not seek a second one-year time, the first time a president has not run again in decades.
Barber’s win over the more conservative Tom Ascol of Florida was seen as a positive step for the denomination to move forward on address abuse. Ascol, who is also had complained to too much wokeness in the denomination and has spoken out against Critical Race Theory, acceptance of the LGBTQ community and women as pastors.
A late entry for the presidential spot was Georgia pastor, the Rev. Frank Cox of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville.