New process for disfellowship of SBC churches

New process for disfellowship of SBC churches

As part of the effort to address churches that fail to respond well to sexual abuse allegations in their congregations, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting approved an amendment to the SBC’s bylaws to repurpose the Credentials Committee.

Standing committee

Going forward the Credentials Committee will be a nine-member standing committee consisting of the SBC’s registration secretary, Executive Committee (EC) chair, and, for three-year terms, three members nominated by the EC and four members nominated by the Committee on Nominations for approval by messengers to serve staggered terms at the committee’s outset.

The committee will be charged with determining whether churches are in friendly cooperation with the SBC according to their approach to concerns about sexual abuse, racism or homosexuality. 

The issue of homosexuality was addressed in 1993.

Sexual abuse and racism are addressed in two  amendments to the SBC constitution proposed June 11. They would expand the definition of cooperating churches to specify sexual abuse and racism as grounds for declaring a church as “not in friendly cooperation” if adopted by messengers to the 2020 SBC in Orlando.

The committee will be tasked with reviewing information when an issue arises during the SBC annual meeting regarding whether a church is in cooperation with the convention. 


The Credentials Committee shall either (a) consider the question and, when prepared, make a recommendation to the EC or (b) submit a recommendation to the convention at the earliest opportunity, which will be immediately considered. One representative of the church and one representative of the Credentials Committee shall be permitted to speak to the question, subject to the normal rules of debate.

If an issue with a church arises between annual meetings the committee will review the information and submit a report to the EC when a church is deemed not in cooperation. The EC, at its next meeting, shall consider the report to make a determination. The decision can be appealed to the convention at least 30 days prior to the annual meeting, when the matter will be considered as part of miscellaneous business on the first day.


Disfellowshipped churches who wish to be reconsidered for reinstatement of fellowship would do so through the Credentials Committee.

A Registration Committee, appointed by the SBC president, will take the lead in registering messengers to the SBC annual meeting, a role previously handled by the Credentials Committee. (BP, TAB)