Ronnie Floyd is leaving the role of President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee following the vote to disclose documents to an abuse investigation.
In recent weeks there have been discussions within the SBC about how sexual abuse allegations have been handled over the last 20 years.
In September, the Executive Committee affirmed the funding of an investigation into its handling of sexual abuse claims within the denomination. However, the leadership was not initially willing to waive their attorney-client privileges, which would allow complete access to legal documents within the EC, such as conversations with lawyers.
However, on 5th October, the EC, made up of 86 representatives, voted to waive their attorney-client privilege, meaning more records can be looked at by the investigation.
Ronnie Floyd, the President of the Executive Committee, said on Thursday that he had to resign because he believes the decision has put their "missionary enterprise" into "unchartered waters".
He will serve until 31st October and added that leaving was the only decision he could make.
He said in an email: “I came here twenty-eight months ago in good faith because I believed in what we do together to advance the Good News of Jesus Christ to the whole world… In the midst of multiple challenges facing the SBC, I was asked to come here because of my proven personal integrity, reputation, and leadership. What was desired to be leveraged for the advancement of the Gospel by those who called me here, I will not jeopardize any longer because of serving in this role.
“The decisions made on Tuesday afternoon, October 5, in response to the 2021 Convention now place our missionary enterprise as Southern Baptists into uncertain, unknown, unprecedented and uncharted waters. Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility entrusted to me, I will not and cannot any longer fulfill the duties placed upon me as the leader of the executive, fiscal, and fiduciary entity of the SBC. In the midst of deep disappointment and discouragement, we have to make this decision by our own choice and do so willingly, because there is no other decision for me to make.”
Floyd said he and his wife have “no idea where we are going and what we will do in the future”.
He said that he was supportive of the review but not the methods proposed: “Our SBC Executive Committee has had an unwavering commitment to doing this needed review. Our commitment has always been to fulfill the desires of the messengers, but the deliberations were about ‘how to do this’ in the most effective way. There was a way it could have been done that fulfilled these desires without creating these potential risks relating to the Convention’s liability. Sadly, even some of our laypeople who are serving as our trustees had to submit their resignation because their profession will not permit them to serve any longer due to these risks that now exist. Others will have to do the same also. This is unacceptable and should concern every Baptist layperson. The SBC entities need more laypersons, not less, who bring their professional expertise in law, finance, and other disciplines to us.”
In June, recordings were leaked of Ronnie Floyd speaking about the SBC's handling of sexual abuse cases in a manner some deemed dismissive. Others said it reflected normal discussion of how to work out the best policy.
The former pastor added to his resignation announcement: “The thought of any sexual abuse done to anyone abhors me. As a husband, father, and grandfather of seven, I deeply care about the protection of all people…One of the most grievous things for me personally has been the attacks on myself and the trustees as if we are people who only care about ‘the system.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.”