The Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Baptist Press

SBC Leader Calls on Committee to Investigate Bryan Loritts; Says “Credibility at Stake”

By Julie Roys

A member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC) has written a letter to his fellow committee members, urging them to investigate allegations that Bryan Loritts–a newly hired executive pastor at The Summit Church–participated in a cover-up of sex crimes.

Dwight Easler

In the letter, which was leaked to me, Pastor Dwight Easler of Corinth Baptist Church  wrote that the allegations against Lorrits “put our credibility at stake as a committee” as well as “the credibility of last year’s actions.”

Last year, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) created a Credentials Committee to address sex abuse issues and to determine if churches are in compliance with SBC beliefs on sexual abuse, racism, and other issues. (Earlier that year, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle found that sex abuse and cover-up was rampant in the SBC.)

Easler said he had listened to a podcast I broadcast last week, in which eyewitnesses accuse Summit, which is pastored by SBC President  J.D. Greear, of conducting a “sham” investigation into Loritts’ past. Easler said he found the content “disturbing to me as an EC member and a Southern Baptist.”

Easler writes:

In the 4 years I have been on the EC I have watched us ‘deal gracefully’ with a person caught in immorality only to see them paid, moved quietly, and now serving in another ministry setting. I have heard nothing but a celebratory attitude from people regarding this. To be honest it has left me very jaded that there are some who are so quietly protected in our circles. The accounts of terrible leadership decisions hiding immoral activity seems to be an annual occurrence. And the accounts of these leaders then being quietly protected in order to save their legacy or the institution is just as common.

Though Easler said he was willing to “extend much grace in this scenario to Summit and its leadership,” he also called on the Credentials Committee to “do due diligence no matter who’s name is at the top.” 

The EC is meeting today, but the EC will not be discussing Summit’s hiring of Bryan Loritts. According to Jonathan Howe, SBC Executive Committee VP for Communications, the  committee’s agenda was set at the time that the meeting was called and can’t be changed. 

I have contacted the chairman of the Credentials Committee, Dr. Mike Lawson of First Baptist Church in Sherman, Texas, and asked whether the Credentials Committee will investigate the allegations against Loritts. I have not heard back yet, but when I do, I will update this post. 

Below is the full text of the letter Easley sent to the executive committee:

 

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11 thoughts on “SBC Leader Calls on Committee to Investigate Bryan Loritts; Says “Credibility at Stake””

  1. Pray for these leaders that they seek truth, do the right thing, and stop protecting each other and rather protect victims. What is done in the darkness needs to come to the light. May this be a cathartic turning point for the SBC.

    1. it’s come to this: church leaders won’t do the right thing unless we pray that they will.

      and just how many prayers does it take for someone to do the right thing?

      5 more? 10 more? 100 more?

      it’s like expending my faith energy so they’ll brush their teeth and change their underwear.

      my prayers are better applied elsewhere.

  2. Kudos to Pastor Easler! In my many years of dealing with these cover-ups within various churches, I have NEVER before seen someone in professional ministry (church or parachurch) take a public stand. Finally, someone who loves Jesus and the Truth more than comfort and popularity!

    I have not attended a church in the many years since all of this came to a head (and only after I found cover-up and cover-up in church-after-church and cowardly complicity on the part of various church “leaders” in town); if I lived in his area, I would consider going back to Dwight Easler’s church. An honest pastor is so very novel and refreshing!

    I’m quite sure that he’d make no claims to perfection, but he should be lauded for having a spiritual backbone on this. I hope that his courage will strengthen others (victims and church leaders who were afraid to stand for truth).

    Pray for Pastor Easler. I’m sure he’ll take some slings and arrows for standing tall for the Sake of the Call.

    1. Greg, thanks for Jennifer’s and your willingness to step forward publicly to tell the story and reveal what happened to cover up crimes and protect leaders rather than victims. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult and it pains me to read of your experiences. Too many poor decisions designed to protect leaders, organizations, and funding rather than God’s people are made by pastors, boards, lay leaders, etc. behind closed doors. Sounds like you’ve experienced that also. Thanks for standing up for truth. Holding onto this for so many years had to take a toll on you and I pray that you are able to find a way to once again trust God, the church, leaders, and people.

      My hope is that the courage of Jennifer and you will embolden others to come forward with their stories. Luke 8:17 New Living Translation (NLT) “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

    2. “An honest pastor is so very novel and refreshing!”
      ++++++++++

      that pretty much sums up the state of things.

      1. Yes Scottie
        “pretty much sums up the state of things”

        Hmmm? An honest pastor?

        A little warning – When looking for a place to fellowship…
        You NOW have to ask the pastor/teacher/leader…
        If they actually believe there is a God.

        No kidding. There are…
        Paid, Professional, Pastors, in Pulpits….
        Preaching, to People, in Pews…
        Weak after Weak…

        Who do NOT believe there is a God.

        You can’t make this stuff up… ;-)

        ———–

        The Clergy Project
        http://www.clergyproject.org/

        The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for **active** and former **clergy** who do not hold supernatural beliefs. The Clergy Project launched on March 21st, 2011.

        Currently, the community’s 500 plus members use it to network and discuss what it’s like being an **unbelieving leader** in a religious community. The Clergy Project’s goal is to support members as they move beyond faith. Members freely discuss issues related to their transition from believer to unbeliever…

        ———-
        .
        Here is another site…

        Pastors who don’t believe in God
        By Rod Dreher

        https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/roddreher/2010/05/pastors-who-dont-believe-in-god.html
        ——-

        Here’s “Adam,” a UCC pastor:

        “I wanted my life to matter. To connect. For something bigger and better, beyond what I was doing.”

        Rod says…
        “They all talk like this, explaining that they stick it out in ministry in part because it is personally fulfilling to work with people, and to do so in a churchy environment. Notice, though, that it never was about God. It was always about Me. Corruption at its root.”
        ———-.

        .Here is the PDF – From…
        Tufts University – Preachers Who Are Not Believers

        https://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/Preachers_who_are_not_believers.pdf
        ——-

        And WE, His Sheep, His Disciples, wonder why…
        Today’s Religious System ain’t working right…
        And folks are leaving in droves…
        ——-

        You can’t make this stuff up… ;-)

        Pastors Who Are Not Believers… Oy Vey!!!

  3. After years of racism, sexism, and child sexual abuse scandals I’m very surprised to know that SBC actually think they have credibility.

  4. Why does no accountability mechanism exist for Greear? If one exists, what is it?

    When the SBC bureaucracy puts a committee on something, it is a head fake. Greear is one of the cool guys. Greear is bulletproof in his church, and in the SBC.

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