Hello BRN Family, it’s good to be with you today. 

More than 12,000 messengers and guests attended this year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, which was largely marked by lament and repentance, following the release of the recent Sex Abuse Task Force report.

At this year’s meeting, messengers approved two recommendations by the Task Forceincluding the formation of a “Ministry Check” website and the establishment of an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force to work over the next three years to create policies and practices for preventing and responding to abuse in Southern Baptist churches.

Messengers also adopted “Resolution 6: On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” which included public apologies and repentance from Southern Baptists to survivors of sexual abuse.

I am thankful for our Executive Board members who saw this as a priority long before it came into the national limelight.

Two years ago, the BRN developed a written statement, “Statement and Encouragements to BRN Churches Regarding Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults,” in support of the prevention of abuse and for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. 

This statement addresses the following areas: 

  • Prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults within the ministries of the church. 
  • Education and awareness of the seriousness of abuse within the ministries of the church. 
  • Ministry and care for those affected by abuse. 

Also at the SBC meeting, messengers elected Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, as SBC president after in a runoff with Florida pastor Tom Ascol.  

This year’s meeting kicked off with a Sending Celebration of 52 IMB missionaries, several with identities hidden due to their location assignment, who shared their backgrounds as well as their calling to go to the nations. It was such a reminder of God’s call to Southern Baptists to keep the mission – the Great Commission –  in the forefront.

In financial news, the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget and 2022-23 SBC Operating Budget were passed by messengers. 

In his address to messengers, Dr. Willie McLaurin, interim SBC Executive Committee President and CEO, thanked churches for an increase in CP giving in the short term, noting that CP giving is $11.3 million (8.89 percent) above budget for the first eight months of the 2021-2022 fiscal year. 

However, Dr. McLaurin noted that even though Southern Baptists have given a cumulative $20 billion to the Cooperative Program, the overall average percentage of giving through the Cooperative Program has decreased from 9.26 percent to 4.68 percent.  

He challenged Southern Baptists, “In 2025, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Program and for nearly a century it has proven to be a reliable model for funding our joint SBC missions and ministry efforts.”  

He added, “If we are to forge a new path forward, we must commit together to reverse this decline.”

Amen to that! The BRN exists to resource and service churches all over Pennsylvania and South Jersey. It is our desire to take care of pastors and to come alongside churches and help them take the next step God is calling them to take. Please let us know how we can assist you by contacting our Help Desk at helpdesk@brnunited.org

God bless you and have a great day!