The following is a transcript of comments made by Rolland Slade, chair of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, at the close of the group’s special called meeting on Oct. 5:
I can say to you truly as chairman and Executive Committee [member], I’d like to really express my relief that this present challenge seems to be behind us. Also, I want to express sorrow over the conduct that we have displayed as Southern Baptists over the course of this absolutely necessary deliberative process.
Too often, brothers and sisters have demonized one another for having reasonable disagreements as everyone sought to fulfill, not to defy, the will of the messengers. This included absolutely unnecessary personal attacks on our EC members, legal advisors, members of the Sexual Abuse Task Force who are all honorable people whose careers attest to their professional expertise.
So it’s my assessment that what we have actually witnessed over the last two weeks [Sept. 21-Oct. 5] was an Executive Committee Board of Trustees and executive leadership, to a person, who were trying really hard to do the right thing while navigating uncharted territory. This was not easy and it shouldn’t be, frankly.
I think there are some apologies that are in order. We’re thankful that we serve a God of grace, and grace is, you know, also we, we owe that to one another — and grace should be given to our Southern Baptist family, and certainly benefit of the doubt should go to everyone. So now that our path has been set out before us, it’s more than time to stop attacking the motives of one another and to move down this road together.
Most importantly, it’s time to know for sure where we have fallen short on the question of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention so that we can correct any errors and move into the future as a convention that is the most safe for our most vulnerable members. So Executive Committee members, I thank you for your service. I thank you for your patience over these last few months. And now I say let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s work with the task force to move the convention ahead.