A report from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Sexual Abuse Advisory Group calls sexual abuse in the SBC “an epidemic powered by a culture of our making” and one that will take “years of purposeful work” to fight.
The advisory group, commissioned by SBC President J.D. Greear following his election in 2018, was tasked with considering how Southern Baptists at every level can respond swiftly and compassionately to incidences of abuse and foster safe environments within churches and institutions.
The resulting 52-page report, “Caring Well,” provides research into the prevalence of abuse, its effects on survivors and research-based ways to respond when abuse occurs. The report also includes the stories of survivors of abuse in SBC churches and ways churches can protect the vulnerable in their congregations.
The full “Caring Well” report of the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group is available at www.caringwell.com/report.
Other actions related to church sexual abuse that took place at the 2019 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham include:
Adopting a proposed SBC constitutional amendment to expand the definition of a cooperating church regarding sexual abuse. As an amendment requires adoption at two consecutive conventions, the amendment will be presented again at the 2020 annual meeting.
Repurposing the SBC Credentials Committee (see https://thealabamabaptist.org/new-process-for-disfellowship-of-sbc-churches/) to field claims against churches in regard to sexual abuse, discrimination based on ethnicity and matters such as homosexuality that would call their “friendly cooperation” into question. A constitutional amendment on ethnicity will be presented for its second vote in 2020.
Adopting Resolution No. 2: On the Evil of Sexual Abuse, which calls for condemnation of the sin of sexual abuse, reporting to civil authorities when abuse happens and decisive action “to intervene on behalf of the abused” and “to exercise appropriate church discipline upon abusers.”
Adopting Resolution No. 3: On Local Church Autonomy and Accountability, which affirms local church autonomy while also “repudiat(ing) any who seek to use the cherished doctrine of local church autonomy as a means of hiding the sins of ministers and others in the church who abuse, sexually or otherwise, ‘the little ones’ of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (TAB)
For the Caring Well challenge, visit www.caringwell.com.