Russell Moore Still Has a Job, Though 100 Churches Have Threatened to Pull SBC Funds

Meeting between ERLC president and Southern Baptist leader Frank Page results in ‘mutual understanding,’ not a firing.

Today’s consternation on social media over Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), came after more than 100 churches threatened to end their donations to the SBC’s Cooperative Program, which supports Moore’s ERLC but also the denomination’s six seminaries, two missions agencies, and other efforts.

 

Russell Moore still has his job, after today’s much-discussed meeting with Southern Baptist leader Frank Page.

“We deepened our friendship and developed mutual understanding on ways we believe will move us forward as a network of churches,” wrote Moore and Page in a joint statement.

“We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come,” they stated. “We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the Great Commission of our lord Jesus Christ.”

Today’s consternation on social media over Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), came after more than 100 churches threatened to end their donations to the SBC’s Cooperative Program, which supports Moore’s ERLC but also the denomination’s six seminaries, two missions agencies, and other efforts.

The churches represent less than 1 percent of the 46,000 congregations that make up America’s largest Protestant denomination. But they also represent the most complaints on any issue “in recent memory,” according to the SBC’s Executive Committee, which is investigating the problem in search of “redemptive solutions.”

The highest-profile threat has come from Prestonwood Baptist Church, led by past SBC president Jack Graham, which stated it would escrow up to $1 million from the Cooperative Program. Such a sum would only represent less than 1 percent of the program’s approximately $190 million budget. But the decision captivated the Baptist blogosphere. (Ed Stetzer, past executive director of the SBC’s LifeWay Research and a CT blogger, explained the message that Graham was sending Moore.)

The Washington Post broke the news of today’s meeting between Page, president of the Executive Committee, and Moore in a story that revived the debate thanks to these sentences:

[Page] indicated that he would not rule out the possibility that he could ask Moore to resign. He said he hopes Moore and his opposition will agree to pursue efforts toward reconciliation.

“Contrary to what some are saying, I do not know a single prominent SBC leader who wants @drmoore to resign or be fired. We don’t need that!” tweeted Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, in response. “Southern Baptist have a decision 2 make: stay in the barracks & fight 1 another or get on the battlefield & fight the real enemies together.”

“Thankful & praying for my friend @drmoore. Hoping that the wise in the SBC will recognize the faithful wounds of a friend, Prov 27:6,” tweeted Ligon Duncan, chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary.

Page later told Baptist Press:

[He] had “requested a private meeting with Dr. Moore” last week and that [reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey] apparently became aware of the meeting.

When [Pulliam Bailey] called Page on March 12, “I insisted that the meeting with Dr. Moore was a private meeting intended to seek bridge-building strategies,” Page said, acknowledging that “nothing was off the table” in his efforts to facilitate reconciliation within the convention.

“I also informed [Pulliam Bailey] that I have no authority over Dr. Moore; that is vested in his board of trustees,” Page said, adding his desire for the meeting was “to find bridge-building solutions to an unnecessary divide that has been created across the landscape of our Southern Baptist network of churches.”

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