GCR Task Force: You Should Have Never Made The Promise to Keep Secrets
Interestingly, Greg Wills, the historian of Southern Seminary, and an employee who answers to President Mohler, was the second person to speak, and unsurprisingly spoke against the motion. After Wills spoke, other messengers made some good points in support of the motion to unseal the records, but Pastor Walter Price made what some considered a good argument against the motion to unseal the records by saying, "What if you as a pastor did a church study and invited church members to speak about the changes needed in the church, but the next Sunday played what was said in the church service?" Pastor Price's arguments has at least two major problems: The Convention is not a church, it is a cooperative effort of multiple churches and the only way cooperation continues is when secrecy is abolished. Also, the Task Force's Al Mohler said that the reason confidentiality was needed was due personnel issues, not any proposed needed changes discussed in the SBC. However, the Task Force had no authority to hire or to fire anyone, to commend any SBC employees or reprimand any SBC employees, or to delve into personnel records or to even keep personnel records. So the argument Al Mohler made that confidentiality was needed for "personnel" reasons is at best illogical and at worst deceptive.
A messenger from the floor proposed an amendment to the main motion that called for the release of selected materials from the deliberations, using lawyers, historical archivists and the press to ensure nothing "confidential" was released (assuming there was anything confidential in the first place). Danny Aiken spoke against the amendment, reiterating "we made a promise to not release the records" and that the costs of combing through the materials to prepare them for release would be cost prohibitive.
It was obvious to me the motion would fail. Time for discussion of issue expired after fifteen minutes. The President of the Convention called time for the debate. The amendment was first voted upon and it failed. The original motion to unseal the records was then voted upon, and it too failed. The Task Force minutes will remain sealed for fifteen years.
Progress is being made in keeping the SBC open, but when we continue to allow the sealing of records for CHRISTIAN MINISTRY, then we violate the specific instructions of Christ that everything involving His kingdom should be done in the light of day. We also violate our own history.
Dr. Albert McClellan, the former Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke to a writer for The Baptist Program on December 31, 1980 and said,
"In 43 years there have been fewer than six executive sessions (closed door, private meetings) . . . The Executive Committee (SBC) has an open ear for anyone one who wants to speak to it. For almost 25 years the gallery has been two to three times bigger than the size of the Committee, and the gallery has been permitted to ask any question, to give any information, to make any point and to offer any objection."
Our Convention is only as healthy as the number of the secrets we keep. Those who hold the keys to the secrets will unwillingly set themselves up as "leaders" who are authorized by God to protect the sheep from harmful information. It seems the GCR Task Force "leader" believe people fifteen years from now can handle the truth--but Southern Baptists today cannot.
I find the secrecy sickening. Others may not care, but I do. I find it difficult to support anything done in a climate of such secrecy, particularly when folks are talking about how they spend the money that the widows in my church give. One of these days we will figure out SBC leadership stays at the nicest hotels, go to the most exotic locations, eat at the nicest restaurants, and spend a great deal of money, only to issue a report, deliberated upon in secret, that concludes we need to give more money to missions.
I have ministry today. Funerals, hospitals, and teaching. I find myself increasingly more uninterested in the SBC.