Recap from Our Pastor
Greetings church family,
Last week the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) met for two days in Anaheim, California. I had the privilege of attending the Convention this year as a messenger from our church and am thankful for that responsibility. The SBC is a unique organization. Technically we are not a true denomination, we are a convention of independent churches that choose to unite together for the purpose of missions and education. That means that the annual meeting of the SBC is very important. Each church has an opportunity to send messengers in order to speak to the things that are important to us. That is what we did in this meeting.
Our heart for missions was on display. We celebrated and commissioned 52 new missionary families to go to the nations through our International Mission Board. This is a highlight for me every time I am able to experience a commissioning service. Again, this is the reason why we join together in partnership. We also celebrated a record amount of churches being planted in North America over the last 10 years. The SEND Network of the North American Mission Board is doing great work and I am thankful that Taylors FBC is able to play a part in this work through our partnerships with Los Angeles and New England in the SEND Network.
Our seminaries are all healthy and doing a great job in preparing students for the ministry. I can truly say that any of our seminaries would be a good choice for any one in our church to attend. I am thankful for this, as it has not always been true in our history.
We elected faithful and conservative leaders to lead us over the next year. Along with the president, Bart Barber of Texas, we also elected two South Carolinians. As Recording Secretary, the one that guarantees that we keep good and faithful records of all of our work, we elected Nathan Finn of North Greenville University. I also had the privilege of nominating my friend Alex Sands, pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, for Second Vice President. I am thankful that Alex won that position; he will serve us well.
Before the Convention met we heard much of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and the findings that an investigation into our Executive Committee published just a few weeks before the annual meeting. The findings in that report were egregious. We properly lamented the truths that the report uncovered during our annual meeting. The beauty of our system is that even when we discover things as terrible as this, we are able to correct those things through our system. Our Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) brought two recommendations: 1. To create an Implementation Task Force to ensure that our reforms continue to proceed in accordance with our structure. 2. To create a database of abusers within our churches so that they do not simply go from one church to another. Both of these recommendations passed overwhelmingly. I am thankful. Hopefully, this puts us on a path to ensure that our churches can truly be a safe place for all, except for those that would seek to commit sexual abuse.
There are always things on the horizon that we will have to answer to as we continue to partner together for the sake of missions and education. One is most clearly the basis for our partnership. For the last 100 years we have united around the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), which was most recently updated in 2000. In the future, the question of a church’s adherence to the BF&M will have to be more clearly defined. This will be a tough conversation but one that we must have in order to ensure the continuing witness of the gospel through our mission agencies. We pray that God will be glorified through these discussions.
I am more than thankful for my time in Anaheim. I am excited about what God is doing through our churches. I am glad we are willing to deal with the things that we have done wrong in the past and do better in the future. In spite of all of our struggles, I am happy to partner with other SBC churches.
Recap from Chris DeWease, Executive Pastor
SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force
The messengers of the 2021 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention called for the investigation of the handling of sexual abuse allegations by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. The independent Sexual Abuse Task Force established by action of the convention chose Guidepost Solutions to investigate and submit a report with their findings before the 2022 annual meeting. That report was released publicly Sunday, May 22. Pastor Josh addressed the report during the Wednesday, May 25, Pastor’s Bible Study. He expressed the need for change in the convention’s response to allegations of abuse.
The information was formally presented to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention during the annual meeting last week in Anaheim, California. The investigation findings detailed the convention’s handling of sexual abuse and recommended changes to address future allegations. The messengers at the annual meeting adopted the recommendations presented by the Task Force, including forming an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force.
Taylors First Baptist pastors and staff were saddened and indignant to learn the revelations in the report. The church takes every allegation of abuse or neglect seriously. We respond to reports following church policy and the legal guidelines required by mandated reporting laws. We seek to provide a trauma-informed response to victims. We desire to faithfully minister to those who are hurting in a way that honors and glorifies Christ Jesus. The pastoral staff realizes that the report revelations and the handling of these matters by the Southern Baptist Convention make it necessary to reaffirm our commitments publicly. We have an established response plan for those who have experienced past abuse. If you know someone in need of that ministry, please call the Church Office at 864-244-3535.
Recap from Kathy Dority, Minister of Connections
Committee on Committees
It was my privilege this year to serve on the Committee on Committees for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This Committee is commissioned to choose and then nominate a slate of individuals from every state/territory. These nominees were presented and approved by the Convention in Anaheim on June 14, and they will now serve on the Nominating Committee to nominate trustees to serve on the boards of SBC entities. Our nominees came from a very diverse group of churches with attendance of 35 up to 2500!
While I approached the Convention this year with deep concerns about the direction in which we would choose to go, I came away very hopeful for the future of the SBC. I’m hopeful because we made decisions that honor and glorify God, because of the many passionate young leaders coming behind us, because of the wonderful work of entities like IMB, NAMB, and Send Relief. I was encouraged by our many gifted musicians who lead worship in their churches, by the men and women who have chosen to lay their lives down to follow Christ and share the gospel to the ends of the earth. I was encouraged by strong women’s ministries that have evolved over the years to impact the lives of single women, wives, mothers, and whole families, and I was encouraged by remembering my Southern Baptist heritage – the people who first shared Jesus with me and who modeled a life of following Christ. I left California with my heart thankful for how God has worked in the past and filled with hope for how He will work through the SBC in the future.