Hollingsworth issues statement on Guidepost controversy

In response to a tweet by Guidepost Solutions in support of LGBTQ+ causes, South Carolina Baptist Convention’s Executive Director-Treasurer Gary Hollingsworth issued a statement to the Baptist Courier June 8 encouraging Southern Baptists to “seek to cooperate with organizations that share our biblical worldview and gospel-driven values,” while expressing equal concern for survivors of sexual abuse.

On June 6, the Guidepost Global account tweeted its commitment “to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion” as an organization that welcomes employees to “bring their authentic selves to work.” It further positioned the company as “an ally to our LGBTQ+ community” accompanied by the image of a rainbow flag. The tweet has brought discussion among Southern Baptists on the merits of a working relationship between a secular company and faith-based institution, according to Baptist Press.

Guidepost Solutions was contracted by the Sexual Abuse Task Force last year to investigate allegations that SBC Executive Committee leadership mishandled sexual abuse claims during a 20-year span. The group delivered a 288-page report on May 22. The net payment to Guidepost for its investigation has come to $1,948,121 through April, according to the EC’s Convention Finance office.

The full statement by Hollingsworth follows:

Gary Hollingsworth

“While we are deeply concerned by Guidepost Solutions’ recent endorsements via social media, we remain equally concerned about the plight of survivors and the issue of sexual abuse in churches. As we move forward together, we must seek to cooperate with organizations that share our biblical worldview and gospel-driven values. We commit to the work of making churches safe places for the vulnerable and caring for those who have been abused. We have full confidence in our state task force to help keep us moving in the right direction.”

Hollingsworth then urged South Carolina Baptists: “If you have suggestions or concerns that you would like to share with our state task force, you may do so by emailing those to taskforce@scbaptist.org.”

While members of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force expressed disappointment in Guidepost Solution’s tweet, they stand by the investigation and report done by Guidepost.

Marshall Blalock, vice chair of the task force and pastor of Charleston First Baptist Church, tweeted following Guidepost’s tweet:

“If anyone was looking for an excuse not to deal with sexual abuse and mistreatment of survivors within the SBC, Guidepost Solutions provided the perfect cover …  with their ‘pride’ month tweet. I was both disappointed and stunned.”

Marshall Blalock

Explaining that Guidepost is “a multinational secular company that specializes in corporate investigations,” Blalock added, “They are not a Christian company, although they routinely work for Christian organizations.

“Guidepost did a professional investigation, they operated with integrity, they respected our faith and values, they even ate a significant amount of the cost because they wanted to help us discover the truth and assist us to be more Christlike in how we respond to sexual abuse,” he maintained.

“And the goal of every recommendation? That we may live and think more biblically regarding this grievous sin of sexual abuse, to be more Christlike in how to minister to the survivors, to help churches protect their most vulnerable from predators,” he noted.

While he doesn’t believe the Guidepost tweet did harm to the report given to the Sexual Abuse Task Force, Blalock said they no longer have confidence to recommend them in the future unless something changes.

Tony Beam

Tony Beam, director of public policy for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, also addressed the Guidepost controversy in an episode of The Courier’s new podcast, Courier Conversations, to be released next week.

“I don’t think the fact that we now know something about Guidepost that we didn’t know in the beginning negates the work they’ve done, or the validity of the information that they’ve put together,” Beam told The Courier.

As to the possibility of the controversy providing an excuse for some not to deal with sexual abuse and mistreatment of survivors within the SBC, Beam asserted, “It must not be that. … I don’t think that’s the way to go, but neither do I think that we can continue to have a relationship with Guidepost. I certainly don’t [think] that we should … take more Cooperative Program dollars and people’s tithes that they’ve given to the church and given to the Lord and use that to employ someone who is diametrically opposed to our values.”

— To listen to the full episode, look for Courier Conversations on The Courier’s website, https://baptistcourier.com, or on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeart, Pandora, and other favorite podcast sources.