At called meeting, Executive Board addresses administrative issues

Irmo – At a called executive session Aug. 17 at Riverland Hills Baptist Church, Irmo, members of the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s Executive Board heard a report concerning SCBC employee “listening sessions” and assigned the board’s administrative committee the “duty of researching issues, developing a plan of action and reporting back” to the Executive Board.

The special session was called by Ed Carney, pastor of Riverland Hills and chairman of the Executive Board. The 1:00 p.m. meeting, which was closed to all except Executive Board members, broke up around 2:45.

“These are serious times,” Carney said in a written statement after the meeting.

“Our convention is divided,” he said, referencing “those who are struggling with our current leadership” and “those who aren’t.”

“We have an opportunity and responsibility to become a model before our fellow Christians as to how to handle conflict constructively,” Carney said. (See Carney’s full statement below.)

The listening sessions were approved by the Executive Board at its regular spring meeting April 12-13 in an effort to address apparent “undercurrents” of concern on the part of former SCBC employees, as reported in The Baptist Courier on April 29.

The listening sessions with convention employees were held over three separate days in June and July. Executive Board officers conducted the sessions “to hear both affirmations about the way the convention is going and concerns people have,” Carney said in April.

Following the Aug. 17 executive session, Carney described the tenor of the meeting as “serious,” with board members “wanting the best for God’s kingdom and for Christians who cooperate together in this state.”

Carney said he believes the administrative committee, chaired by D.J. Horton, pastor of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church, Moore, will take its responsibility seriously, and he hopes the committee will have a report at the Executive Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting in October.

Following is Carney’s full statement:

“These are serious times. The eyes of Southern Baptists and South Carolinians are upon us at this moment. Prayer groups from around the nation are praying for us.

“Our convention is divided. The division is not 50-50, but between those who are struggling with our current leadership, those who aren’t, those who don’t know anything is going on and those that don’t make this a concern of their lives.

“Trust me, this is serious. People are watching, and Satan is going to make sure they stay tuned as he tries to expose any cracks in our fellowship. He will use that to destroy our testimony to this cooperative ministry.

“How do you handle conflict in a Christian organization?

“At the church I pastor, when there is a perceived problem with a minister or employee, his/her supervisor meet, write out any adjustments that need to be made, a future date of review is determined, the directing supervisor signs it, the employee signs it, and both keep a copy. This is common practice in many churches.

“That step has not been taken in our convention processes. It is vital that leadership in the Baptist Building understands the adjustments. Agreement has been reached with our Executive Director-Treasurer to do anything within his power to adjust to directives of the Board.

“Those directives don’t exist at this point.

“We have an opportunity and responsibility to become a model before our fellow Christians as to how to handle conflict constructively. I am pleased the eyes of our state are on us; this gives us a pulpit to ‘do the right thing.’

“I have been impressed with how David treated Saul. Saul was in direct opposition to David’s leadership. I have always been suspicious that the reason God led David to treat Saul as he did was to show his own followers how you treat a leader. David later enjoyed the fruits of that lesson.

“Executive Board recommendation: The Administrative Committee of the Executive Board will have the duty of researching issues, developing a plan of action and reporting back to the Executive Board.”