Churches reported to Credentials Committee over Johnny Hunt invitations

Two Southern Baptist churches have been reported to the SBC Credentials Committee on the grounds that the churches are out of step with the convention’s stances on sexual abuse.

The reports stem from speaking invitations extended to former SBC president Johnny Hunt. Hunt was named in a 2022 report from Guidepost Solutions on the firm’s investigation into the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims by the SBC Executive Committee. Hunt has admitted to “a brief, but improper, encounter” in 2010 with a woman who wasn’t his wife, but has denied that it was abuse.

In an email shared with The Tennessean by Todd Benkert, the SBC Credentials Committee acknowledged placing two churches under inquiry. The churches are Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., and New Season Church in Hiram, Ga., according to The Tennessean.

Messengers voted in 2019 to amend the SBC constitution to specifically state that mishandling sexual abuse is grounds for a church to be deemed “not in friendly cooperation” with the convention. In 2021, messengers adopted a resolution stating: “Any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor. … [W]e recommend that all of our affiliated churches apply this standard to all positions of church leadership.”