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FROM THE STATES: SBTC to hire survivor care consultant; KBC preparing handbook for churches on sexual abuse

SBTC to hire sexual abuse and survivor care consultant

By TEXAN Staff

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) – As part of an increasing effort to address sexual abuse concerns and allegations in Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches, the SBTC has announced it will hire a consultant for sexual abuse and survivor care.

The consultant will advise SBTC staff in matters pertaining to sexual abuse, assist in the development of abuse prevention and survivor care resources and action plans, and speak directly with inquiring church leaders to give counsel when sexual abuse is reported in their congregations. Additionally, the SBTC Credentials Committee will have the liberty to seek the advisement of the consultant when questions of a church’s affiliation status relate to claims of sexual abuse.

“We are still in the process of refining the role and seeking the right person,” said SBTC Associate Executive Director Tony Wolfe. “This is a position of great importance, and it deserves our diligence.”

Wolfe added that the SBTC is hoping to use a trained and licensed professional in the area of counseling and trauma care to assist in listening well and speaking sensitively with survivors of abuse when opportunities arise.

On Tuesday, May 24, in a special-called meeting conducted via Zoom, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and Interim CEO Willie McLaurin issued “a formal apology to abuse survivors on behalf of the entire EC,” Baptist Press reported. The apology came after the EC on Sunday released the findings of an independent report conducted by Guidepost Solutions into its alleged mishandlings of sexual abuse claims over a span of decades. The report was overwhelmingly requested by Southern Baptists at last year’s annual meeting in Nashville.

During the Zoom meeting, the EC said it planned to release a previously unpublished list of 585 alleged and convicted abusers collected by Augie Boto, who is a former EC vice president for convention policy and general counsel. That list was released May 26.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick said, “Sexual abuse is an egregious form of sexual immorality that is clearly ungodly, morally corrupt, and a sin against God. Upon release of the list, the SBTC will thoroughly review the names, evaluating any level of association that currently exists or has existed between these names and affiliated SBTC churches. We will report to law enforcement where appropriate, and each instance will be carefully considered by our SBTC Credentials Committee.”

KBC preparing handbook to help churches prevent and respond to sexual abuse

By Lawrence Smith/Kentucky Baptist Convention

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The Kentucky Baptist Convention is preparing a handbook designed to help churches prevent sexual abuse and respond correctly if cases do occur.

Guidepost Solutions, which issued the recent report on sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, is preparing the handbook for the KBC.

“We just want something that a pastor, church leader, church members can have access to – to know how we prevent sexual abuse from happening in our church,” said KBC Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray. “If it does happen, how do we respond to make sure we’re caring well for the survivors, that we’re doing the right thing by the law, that we’re leaving the church in the best position, that we’re doing everything the right way.”

The handbook is an outgrowth of the Sexual Abuse Task Force approved by the messengers at the KBC Annual Meeting last November.

KBC Task Force Chair Linda Cooper said the resource will help churches become more equipped to prevent and respond to sexual abuse.

“I have every confidence that it will be very helpful. They’ll have something to draw from, to know what to do, who to call,” Cooper said.

“I think the handbook is going to be great because we’re going to have a resource that is available in the church and online,” said KBC President Harold Best. “This is new to some people, and to have a resource, to have some training, to have a contact person, I think that helps us to make right decisions going forward.”

Gray said the handbook will place a particular emphasis on caring for the survivors of sexual abuse.

“So many people who have been abused, sexually, in connection with the church – either a church member or a church leader – their spiritual life, in many cases, really takes a hit, and they even connect that in some way to their relationship with the Lord,” Gray said. “If we can better serve people who have experienced abuse, as well as prevent it from happening in the first place, that would be a great outcome.”

Cooper said the resource could benefit churches beyond the KBC.

“I’m very thankful that Bro. Todd Gray has led out in this because I think every state needs what we’re doing here, and I’m very grateful that Kentucky is on the cutting edge and out there ahead of the game, Cooper said. “I’m very thankful for that.”

On Thursday, May 26, the SBC Executive Committee released a previously undisclosed list of more than 500 alleged and convicted sexual abusers, compiled over several years unbeknownst to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee board.

The list contains 17 cases with connections to Kentucky. All but one was dealt with criminally and all had been previously reported publicly.

Cooper said the release of the sexual abuse report adds even more urgency to what the KBC is already doing.

“I’m thankful to be a Southern Baptist that wants to correct things and move forward and help these victims who have been suffering for years,” Cooper said. “We pray for the victims, we pray for the whole situation, and we want to do what God would have us do in the end.”

“I think Kentucky’s approach has been, we want to do it in a way that glorifies the Lord,” Best said.

The KBC’s sexual abuse prevention and response handbook is scheduled to be completed in early fall. All KBC employees will receive mandatory training, and workshops will take place for churches Oct. 3-6 at four locations across the state.

The specific locations, dates and times are still being determined. One of the workshops will be recorded and posted online.

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