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FROM THE STATES: Addiction ministry support team started in New England; Alabama agencies to require background checks

Today’s From the States features items from: The Baptist Convention of New England (Mass.) and The Alabama Baptist (Ala.).

BCNE starts addiction ministry support team
By Baptist Convention of New England staff

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (BP) –The Baptist Convention of New England is adding an addiction ministry consultant to its church growth team. Samuel Arroyo-Breeden, a member of First Church in Charlestown, Mass., will work with New England churches that are interested in starting or growing a ministry to reach people struggling with different types of addiction.

Arroyo-Breeden describes addiction ministry as an opportunity to point people in the depths of addiction to both physical and spiritual hope. For the past six years he has worked with people struggling to find a way out of addiction. He has served as a student leader and intern with Teen Challenge New England and as a case manager and clinician for a secular organization. He also founded New England Outreach to help recovering addicts learn to process their struggles while rebuilding their lives.

“Having my own testimony of restoration and reconciliation — that has inspired me to preach the Gospel,” Arroyo-Breeden said. “Jesus changed my life, and I want to let others know that He can do the same for them.”

Serving in addiction ministries is rewarding, according to Arroyo-Breeden. Seeing struggling people restored, recovering addicts find their self-worth and families reunited with “lost” loved ones gives Arroyo-Breeden joy. But he describes the best part of ministry as the time someone caught in addiction abandons his or her shame at the foot of the cross.

“When people have a moment of epiphany about the Lord’s love for them, there is nothing better than that,” Arroyo-Breeden said.

In the coming months Arroyo-Breeden will be leading training events to equip churches in ministry addiction. Learn more about addiction ministry and the BCNE’s other compassion ministries at www.bcne.net/compassion-ministries.

SBOM, TAB, ABHC increase protections
By The Alabama Baptist staff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — The leaders of The Alabama Baptist (TAB) newspaper and Alabama Baptist Historical Commission (ABHC) decided in early October to consider background checks on staff and board members (known as commissioners for the ABHC).

The TAB and ABHC boards both affirmed the decisions and the ABHC commissioners will vote on the exact plan in February.

The background checks will likely include running names by the national sex offender registry. 
TAB will run checks on all new staff and board members who are being considered after Jan. 1, 2020. 

ABHC plans to check all existing staff and board members at one time if the plan is approved.
The groups’ leaders Jennifer Davis Rash, TAB, and Lonette Berg, ABHC, made the announcements to their boards following the lead of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

In August the SBOM trustees voted to authorize background checks and national sex offender registry checks on all current and future full- and part-time employees as well as all new trustees beginning in 2020.

“We want to make sure our State Board is a safer place,” said SBOM Executive Director Rick Lance. “Everyone on our staff was vetted very well but in this climate we need to hit the reset button.”

SBOM associate executive director Bobby DuBois confirmed Oct. 10 that all employee background checks have been completed and all received clean reports. The three convention-elected officers also have requested those same checks be run on them, he added. 
Other Alabama Baptist entities already have varying levels of checks in place based on their vulnerabilities and/or are considering updates to their policies.