The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has set up a committee to determine whether a dispute involving one of the denomination's controversial leaders can be resolved – an ongoing rift that has led to some churches withholding their funds from the SBC.
Some congregations – including mega-church Prestonwood Baptist near Dallas Texas – have stated that they are escrowing funds from the Cooperative Program – the funding mechanism for SBC agencies.
The withholding churches have expressed concerns about Russell Moore, who serves as the president of SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ELRC). They are challenging Moore’s rhetoric against Trump and his evangelical supporters during his presidential campaign.
Churches were also concerned about a friend-of-the-court brief signed by the ERLC that supports the efforts of a Muslim group to build a mosque in New Jersey.
SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank Page met with Moore. After the meeting both SBC leaders sent out a joint release stating that they "fully support one another."
Summarizing the meeting, SBC Executive Committee Spokesman Roger Oldham announced that Page and Moore focused on unifying common ground – rather than divisive differences.
"They talked about issues ranging from religious liberty and racial reconciliation to Kingdom diversity and the sanctity of human life from the womb to the grave,” Oldham disclosed. “So there are a lot of things that hold us together as Southern Baptists, and sometimes the way in which something comes across can put some people off – but we’ve got to get beyond those things and stay focused on the common goals. And that really was much of what the conversation was about … how do we do that as we move forward?"
Meanwhile, Oldham noted that an ad hoc committee is studying the ERLC controversy and the subsequent escrowing of funds by churches "to determine some redemptive solutions” to bring them back together as they move forward.