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#ChurchToo Investigations

Southern Baptist Convention Retains Guidepost Solutions for Audit of Sexual Abuse Policies

The Southern Baptist Convention has retained independent compliance firm Guidepost Solutions to investigate its executive committee in connection with its past handling of sexual abuse issues.

A task force formed at the request of SBC delegates, or “messengers,” as they are called by the church, selected Guidepost after vetting two proposals, the other being from a Washington, D.C. law firm, the Conference said in a news release and FAQs document.

Among other reasons, Guidepost was chosen because of its “considerable background involving abuse in religious contexts” and team members who “are understanding and appreciative of the Baptist faith and biblical principles,” the organization said.

Guidepost Solutions is a leader in domestic and international investigations, compliance solutions, monitoring, and security and technology consulting, with offices in multiple U.S. cities, as well as Bogota, Colombia, and Singapore. SBC is headquartered in Nashville.

Investigative team members will include Julie Myers Wood, CEO of Guidepost; Samantha Kilpatrick, subject matter expert, Kilpatrick Law Group; Krista Tongring, managing director, Guidepost; Courtney Bullard, subject matter expert, founder of Institutional Compliance Solutions; Bradley Dizik, senior managing director, Guidepost; and Asha Muldro, deputy general counsel/senior managing director, Guidepost.

SBC previously hired Guidepost in June to investigate allegations that Ronnie Floyd, president of the executive committee, and Georgia pastor Mike Stone had tried to delay attempts to deal with abuse and to silence abuse survivors, and to “review and enhance training” provided to the executive committee staff and trustees in responding to abuse matters.

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The new investigation will review executive committee member and staff actions over the course of 21 years and will not include any allegations of sexual abuse or mishandling of abuse at the local church level unless those allegations were impacted by the words or actions of the executive committee.

The SBC said that the names and personal identifying information of victims will not be disclosed without permission, and that it is committed to providing survivor care throughout the investigation process.

The task force has suggested the executive committee use reserve funds to pay for the audit.

“Through careful management of cooperative program dollars, the EC has put aside a significant reserve for a rainy day. This mandated investigation certainly qualifies as a rainy day,” the SBC said in the FAQ document.

Members of the task force and its advisors will not be paid, although travel expenses will be reimbursed when in-person meetings are required, SBC said.

The SBC has called for a written report on the investigation’s findings 30 days prior to the SBC Annual meeting in 2022 and asked that the information be made public within one week of the task force’s receipt of the report.

The Convention said the task force also will provide periodic updates on the process and “must clearly acknowledge that this process is the very first step in what will be a long and, at times, difficult road.”

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.