New voices can positively shape SBC, Litton says

By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist

In her new role as registration secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Kathy Litton will help shape the response of the convention to issues such as sexual abuse. “Shaping” is an important word, she said.

“It’s not about power but about partnership,” she said. “It’s about hearing from women about local church work and seeing the global work of the gospel through their lens. There’s love in that language because women are indispensable in Great Commission work.”

Litton is director of planter spouse development for the North American Mission Board and a member of Redemption Church, Saraland, where her husband, Ed, is pastor. She became the first woman elected to the position of SBC registration secretary in a close vote during the Tuesday afternoon session of the SBC annual meeting June 11.

She called this year’s annual meeting a “hopeful” one, noting the overall positive tone of the business meetings, panel discussions and related meetings, including the first-ever SBC Women’s Leadership Network gathering. 

‘Very grateful’

“I do love our denomination and am very grateful for its role in my life spiritually,” Litton said. “I think having more women’s experiences shaping our denomination is important.”

Litton is hopeful her voice, along with other diverse voices increasingly being included in SBC life, will continue shaping a positive future for the denomination so others can benefit.

In addition to her responsibilities related to registering messengers for the annual meeting, Litton will serve on the Credentials Committee, newly tasked with determining whether churches are in friendly cooperation with the SBC according to their approach to concerns within the church about sexual abuse, racism or homosexuality. The committee’s role is to respond to allegations, not to look for them, but the process is taking the convention to unfamiliar territory, Litton said.

“This is going to create tension for us at some level because we are local churches that have autonomy and are choosing to cooperate together. Autonomy driven too far can create some unhealthiness yet oversight is not who we are either.”

Recent SBC actions to address sexual abuse in churches have highlighted the collaborative approach of the convention, she said.

“Our mechanism for creating solutions has come from different places — the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is involved, the Sexual Abuse Study Group is involved — and in reality that brings the best of our worlds together to help create churches and environments where we’re more proactive about problems and we’re also suggesting solutions to prevent incidents from happening.”

That dual approach of prevention and accountability will help the denomination “engage in healthier ways on the issue of sexual abuse for the greater good of the kingdom of God, the safety of all the individuals who walk into the spaces of our churches and the reputation of churches in their communities,” Litton said.