Editor’s Note: In support of the sixth strategic action of Vision 2025 adopted by messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, Baptist Press will continue to report every instance of sexual abuse related to Southern Baptist churches, entities, institutions or leaders of which we are made aware.
NASHVILLE (BP) – The SBC Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) issued an update on Friday afternoon (Feb. 10). It’s the group’s second update of the year.
The update says group members have met with leaders across the SBC, including members of the SBC’s initial Sexual Abuse Task Force.
Among other actions, they report work on “evaluating current and potential resources for every level of training and education so that we may identify, revise and create the most effective and comprehensive tools and resources for resourcing churches, congregants and leaders to best prevent and respond appropriately to abuse.”
Working with the Credentials Committee
The group says it has met with SBC Credentials Committee members so it could begin “updating materials and content, as well as drafting comprehensive standards and processes to provide better training for members as well as clear guidance and communication for churches and those who request an inquiry.”
The ARITF also says it has been working with the SBC Executive Committee and the Credentials Committee as it pursues the creation of a MinistryCheck website.
Members have conducted interviews and received proposals from firms that could build and maintain the website.
“Once a firm is selected, the ARITF will provide a full update regarding the criteria, qualifications, process and contract terms,” the update said.
Survivor advocate and church support resource
The task force is also looking for the right people to serve sexual abuse survivors and churches.
A “survivor advocate” would be “a confidential resource for survivor wishing to file a report with the MinistryCheck website or the Credentials Committee.”
The advocate would assist the survivor “to preserve the confidentiality and anonymity of survivors, receive and provide updates, make inquiries on behalf of survivors, and be available to assist them in identifying and connecting to community resources and support services.”
They task force is also looking into the creation of a position called a “church support resource”.
According to the update, this person would be “A qualified individual who can serve as a voluntary resource for churches who have received an allegation of abuse and desire help knowing how to respond and what steps to take.”
Beyond New Orleans
The group says they “do anticipate and have begun discussions about the need to extend the ARITFs work beyond the 2023 annual meeting.”
The 2023 SBC Annual Meeting is scheduled for June 13-14 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
If you are/have been a victim of sexual abuse or suspect sexual abuse by a pastor, staff member or member of a Southern Baptist church or entity, please reach out for help at 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. All calls are confidential.