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Southern Baptists elect new president, approve sexual abuse reforms

Delegates pray at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. Associated Press/Photo by Jae C. Hong

Southern Baptists elect new president, approve sexual abuse reforms

ANAHEIM, Calif.—The majority of the nearly 8,100 delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting raised yellow ballot cards Tuesday to support abuse prevention measures in churches. Bart Barber, a rural Texas pastor, will lead the nation’s largest Protestant denomination after earning nearly 61 percent of the votes Tuesday evening in a runoff election. His opponent, Pastor Tom Ascol of Cape Coral, Fla., campaigned to change the direction of what some see as liberal drift in the SBC.

What does the SBC propose to prevent abuse? It will extend the work of the denomination’s sexual abuse task force, which will assist Baptist churches and entities that voluntarily wish to implement abuse prevention measures. The task force will also help revise the SBC’s complaint process. The delegates, called messengers, authorized a “ministry check” website to help churches and communities identify and track church workers who have been credibly accused of abuse. The changes follow a report released last month from the investigative firm Guidepost Solutions, detailing how Baptist leaders mishandled sex abuse cases and mistreated survivors in the past two decades.

Dig deeper: Read my report on what the Guidepost investigation found.

Mary Jackson

Mary is a book reviewer and senior writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area.


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