Three years ago this Sunday – a storm hit my little community of Evergreen Virginia – a tornado that brought havoc, destruction, and life change. It was devastating. And yet, this two minute event pales in the destruction caused through the ages by sexual abuse and by people turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.
I normally don’t write a whole lot about issues that dominate the Twitterverse or major headlines that tackle very serious issues. It is not that I am unaware or that I am apathetic to such topics, it is more that I acknowledge so much is being written about said topics that I would be redundant – or worse, not to be able to handle it in the manner these topics deserve in such a short space as my blog. I do talk personally to people in my circle, but rarely online. But recently, the Baptist world, to which I belong, has been rocked buy the article that came from the Houston Chronicle about Sexual Abuse in the SBC.
I can say that my prayers go out to those
impacted by such atrocities,
and that I pray God’s people, or more clearly, all people will recognize the gravity of this and will not stand idly by
Our SBC president has called for 10 action steps – and I post them here … Greear called Southern Baptists to:
- Enter a season of sorrow and repentance. Southern Baptists should lament abuse in our churches and repent of our failure to adequately address the issue.
- Embrace a new curriculum for holistic care in the early stages of learning of abuse. Becoming a Church that Cares Well on Abuse is a free video-based curriculum created by a diverse team of survivors, advocates, and experts. Contributors to the curriculum include Rachael Denhollander, Diane Langberg, Andrea Munford and more. Greear encouraged people to sign up at the curriculum’s website to stay informed about its launch.
- Affirm three separate “Statement of Principles” documents. Three separate documents were ratified by (1) all six SBC seminaries and (2) all 41 SBC State Conventions, and (3) SBC Associational Leaders signal a collective commitment to address abuse at every organizational level of the SBC.
- Take immediate action on abuse prevention and care. Churches, associations, state conventions, and entities should seek to strengthen their policies and practices on abuse.
- Consider requiring background checks, at a minimum, for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments. The Executive Committee should consider integrating background checks into the standard process for evaluating appointees and trustees in a manner that fits our polity. Our goal is to be vigilant to make sure that predators have no place at any level in our structure.
- Reexamine the ordination process. Churches should evaluate how to strengthen screening and background efforts in the ordination process.
- Update the Annual Church Profile to ask about abuse. Questions related to updated abuse policies and occurences of abuse should be considered for inclusion in the Annual Church Profile completed by SBC churches.
- Prepare to address abuse at the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting. The 2019 SBC Annual Meeting will address abuse through prayer, reports, events, and resources.
- Explore possibilities related to a database solution. The Study Group will continue to evaluate possibilities for a registry of offenders.
- Request that the Executive Committee enhances governing documents on disfellowshipping churches and evaluates several churches. The Executive Committee should strengthen language in the SBC’s governing documents related to mishandling abuse as a grounds for disfellowshipping churches. They should also do due diligence on several churches specified in media reports on abuse to evaluate if their standing aligns with our faith and practice.
This is not the end, but just the beginning of our response – These 10, and other information and resources can be found at the ERLC website (Our SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.) Click here to go to their page.
May God give us wisdom – and may we experience His grace and mercy in and through our lives.