The Southern Baptist Convention made a major change to bylaw language Tues. that would remove SBC churches that hire sex offenders and show patterns of neglect pertaining to sexual abuse according to Houston Chronicle reporter Robert Downen who is covering the Southern Baptist Church leaders gathering in Nashville, Tenn.
The announcement follows a stunning report on hundreds of sexual abuse and misconduct cases in the Southern Baptist Church.
SBC church leaders convened Mon. where Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear called for a “season of lament, sorrow, and repentance.”
In his speech, Greear acknowledged the gravity of the report and vowed to respond with action.
“This is not a fabricated story made up by people with a secular agenda,” he said to those in attendance.“We've not taken reports of abuse in our churches as seriously as our gospel demands, and sometimes even worse, outright ignored or silenced victims."
Seven-hundred victims were identified by the Houston Chronicle, though it is likely that even more have suffered at the hands of pastors, ministers, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and church volunteers over the past 20 years.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Greear provided a list of 10 churches at the meeting on Monday, “including the Second Baptist Church in Houston, that he said should be scrutinized for their handling of sexual abuses and potentially removed from the nation's largest Baptist group.”
In addition to internal inquiries, Greear announced “10 calls to action for Southern Baptists,” which were based on initial recommendations from the Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Group that launched last year. Calls included a consideration of background checks for all SBC standing committees and trustee appointments, a database for offenders, and a reexamination of the ordination process.
“It’s time we back up our words with actions,” Greear said.
One of the recommendations that was received with praise from advocates is a forthcoming curriculum for churches addressing sexual abuse and caring for survivors. The curriculum includes contributions from Diane Langberg, a psychologist and trauma and abuse specialist; Andrea Munford, the lead detective on the Larry Nassar case; Rachael Denhollander, a survivor and advocate who was one of the first women to speak out publicly and file a report against Nassar; and more.
Thankful for the recognition that repentances and grief is needed. This is worth great grief. https://t.co/LN4MO9d5Y7— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) February 19, 2019
Church leaders have long cited SBC structure — the fact that SBC-affiliated churches maintain independence from a central governing body, unlike the Catholic Church or many mainline denominations — as reasoning for difficulty implementing oversight measures like a central database of credibly accused abusers within its ranks. Greear touched on that in his remarks, recommending that the SBC “explore possibilities related to a database solution.”
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