- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2022

One week after the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee voted to recommend spending millions to address the denomination’s sex-abuse crisis, a related charity pledged to help with funding.

Send Relief, a charity collaboration of the SBC’s International and North American Mission Boards said it will supply “$3 million in one-time funds” — the amount the denomination’s leaders estimate will be the price tag for the reforms proposed by an internal task force.

The money will come from “undesignated funds” the charity has, and not from Southern Baptist funds designated for missionaries and evangelism.

Also, the charity will provide what it called “seed funding of $1 million for a survivor-care fund.” The money would be used to provide “trauma counseling” for abuse survivors as well as “trauma-informed training” for Southern Baptist pastors, churches and regional groups.

The announcement came in a letter signed by Bryant Wright, Send Relief’s president, as well as Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board president and Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board president.

“Send Relief’s contribution will allow Southern Baptists’ generous Cooperative Program giving to continue to serve and support SBC missionaries, church planters and seminary students,” the letter said.

The issue of how much to spend on efforts to resolve abuse issues has been a contentious one for the 13.7 million-member denomination, which was rocked by the May 22 release of a 300-page independent report detailing decades of sex abuse by pastors, workers, and volunteers across the U.S.

Last Sunday (June 5), a group of survivors publicly called on the SBC to do more, including calling for the creation of an independently administered “survivor restitution fund” to compensate victims.

However, SBC executive committee member Joe Knott, an attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the task force’s proposals — slated for voting next week at a general business session in Anaheim, California — could “make us potentially targets of great class action lawsuits, which could be the end of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Rev. Rolland Slade of San Diego, the executive committee’s chairman, responded by saying, “I know it can’t be about the dollars, it’s got to be about the people. And relationships matter and people matter.”

The Washington Times has contacted one of the leading SBC abuse survivors for comment.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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