By Lonnie Wilkey
FRANKLIN — Baptist state conventions across the country have unanimously embraced a Statement of Principles on Abuse (see complete statement following article).
The state conventions are partnering with the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group, appointed by North Carolina pastor and Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear in response to a series of articles on sexual abuse in SBC churches published in early February by The Houston Chronicle.
The statement notes: “Our desire is for the churches and ministries in our states to become safe for survivors and safe from abuse. We also want our state conventions to be a model for compassionate care.
“To this end, our state conventions collectively commit to continue and expand our existing efforts” to address sexual abuse issues.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, is the current president of the Fellowship of SBC State Convention Executive Directors.
“The unified voice of our state and regional conventions is a testimony that we understand the issue of prevention of sexual abuse, as well as the care of those victimized, as a priority,” Davis said.
The state convention executive directors confirmed they will address sexual abuse issues by educating churches and ministries in their state, by caring for abuse survivors and by preparing for abuse prevention.
The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board is fully supportive of the Statement of Principles on Abuse, Davis said.
“The TBMB has a deep commitment to continue providing excellent tools and resources to our churches that enhance the protection of children in their care” he observed.
“We combat the deplorable and hellish evil of sexual abuse because we cannot allow it to harm one more child. We will not allow this issue to distract us from reaching the youngest generation with the gospel, Davis added.
David Green, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church, Greeneville, agrees with the Statement of Principles on Abuse.
“The safest place for children in Tennessee, outside of their homes, needs to be the local church,” he observed.
“Tennessee Baptists need to do everything possible to ensure the safety of children and families placed in our care,” Green added.
During the meeting of the SBC Executive Committee Feb. 18-20 in Nashville, Greear issued 10 “calls to action” for Southern Baptists on the issue of sexual abuse.
- (1) Enter a season of sorrow and repentance.
- (2) Embrace a new curriculum for holistic care in the early stages of learning of abuse.
- (3) Affirm three separate “Statement of Principles” documents (which includes the state convention version).
- (4) Take immediate action on abuse prevention and care.
- (5) Consider requiring background checks, at a minimum, for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments.
- (6) Reexamine the ordination process.
- (7) Update the Annual Church Profile to ask about abuse.
- (8) Prepare to address abuse at the 2019 SBC annual meeting.
- (9) Explore possibilities related to a database solution.
- (10) Request that the Executive Committee enhances governing documents on disfellowshipping churches and evaluates several churches that were specified in media reports on abuse. B&R
SBC State Conventions:
Statement of Principles on Abuse
BY ERLC Staff
The state conventions in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention are committed to partnering with the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group to equip churches and ministries in our respective states to engage the issue of abuse with compassion and care. Our desire is for the churches and ministries in our states to become safe for survivors and safe from abuse. We also want our state conventions to be a model for compassionate care. To this end, our state conventions collectively commit to continue and expand our existing efforts and to the following shared statement of principles:
Our state conventions will continue to address sexual abuse issues:
We will educate affiliate churches and ministries in our state to understand abuse by:
- • Raising awareness: We will raise awareness about the issue of abuse through state convention outlets and events, including a commitment to address abuse at our 2019 annual meetings.
- • Sharing resources: We will share resources about the issue of abuse to the churches and ministries we serve
- • Partnering with the study group: We will partner with the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group to develop and seek ways to support its efforts and initiatives.
Our state conventions will care for abuse survivors:
We will equip churches and ministries in our state to care well for abuse survivors by:
- • Encouraging resource development: We encourage the effort of the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group to develop the resource Becoming a Church that Cares Well for Abuse.
- • Providing staff training: We will provide training to our state convention staff on how to provide highly effective resourcing in caring for survivors of abuse.
- • Promoting church training: We will promote training on how to care for survivors of abuse to the churches and ministries we serve.
Our state conventions will continue to prepare for abuse prevention:
We will support churches and ministries in our state to prepare to prevent abuse by:
- • Enhancing prevention practices: We will encourage churches and ministries to enhance their abuse prevention policies and practices.
- • Providing staff training: We will provide training to our state convention staff on abuse prevention.
Promoting church training: We will promote training on abuse prevention to the churches and ministries we serve.