FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP) –“It’s heartbreaking, but it does motivate you to make sure that this isn’t an issue that is ever going to happen at your church.”
That was Dylan Quinn’s reaction to the Church Prepared training session on sexual abuse prevention, response and care at Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort on Wednesday (Oct. 5).
“I’m just thankful for the KBC and Buck Run Baptist Church and everyone who has invested time in it,” said Quinn, the family pastor at Graefenburg Baptist Church. “It’s an important thing.”
Quinn was among the more than 500 pastors and ministry leaders who attended one of the four training events that took place in Paducah, Bowling Green, Frankfor, and Ashland this week.
The Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Sexual Abuse Task Force partnered with MinistrySafe of Fort Worth, Texas, to offer the training in response to the growing concern about the issue in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Attorney and MinistrySafe co-founder Greg Love said Kentucky Baptists have taken the lead in offering this kind of help to churches.
“The Kentucky Baptist Convention has clearly identified what it wanted to accomplish, and created a plan to execute it,” Love told Kentucky Today. “And I think a lot of other state Baptist conventions are watching to see what that plan is and the success of it. I think they’ll find it has been very valuable what has happened here in Kentucky.”
“The Kentucky Baptist Convention was created by churches for churches to help churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ,” said KBC Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray. “This is one more way that our convention is striving to serve churches in conjunction with our Sexual Abuse Task Force to provide this training.”
The five-hour sessions included information about recognizing the grooming tactics of sexual predators and building an effective safety system.
The five-part safety system includes:
- Sexual Abuse Awareness Training
- Skillful Screening
- Appropriate Criminal Background Checks
- Tailored Policies and Procedures
- Monitoring and Oversight
James Reeves, teaching pastor at City on a Hill Church in Fort Worth, Texas, also spoke on how to care well for survivors.
“The horrific abuse that these victims have endured needs to be understood by people in our churches so we can help them continue to heal,” said Sara Robinson, the KBC’s women’s ministry and transitions consultant, who took the lead in organizing the training.
Love said the reaction to the training has been “very positive.” He said those attending the sessions have told him, “I now understand what this looks like so I can take the next right step to make sure that risk doesn’t unfold for my kids.”
Love said the challenge now is for churches to implement what they have learned.
“This information has to be deployed at the church level,” Love said. “So, the challenge now is for the churches – knowing that the KBC is there and we’re there at MinistrySafe – to have some activity at the church level.”
Jon Pope, associate pastor at Frankfort’s Bellepoint Baptist Church, said he and other area pastors have already put implementation plans in motion thanks to the resources the KBC and MinistrySafe have provided.
“A lot of the information today was helpful just in providing what small churches like us can’t do from scratch,” Pope said. “That was very helpful to have resources available to us through our relationship with the KBC.”
Quinn said he was struck by the understanding that criminal background checks are not enough to stop sexual predators since only about 10 percent of them have had previous encounters with the justice system.
“Those background checks can catch some things but having that personal interview, to be able to ask some of the hard questions – we found that to be beneficial,” Quinn said.
Pope believes putting up strong barriers against sexual abuse communicates to families and children that they are valued.
“It is unfortunate that we live in times when we have to talk and think about these things,” Pope said. “But if we don’t, we’re communicating that we really don’t want to respond rightly.”
Robinson said the training will help churches and ministry leaders have a plan when sexual abuse instances or allegations occur.
“We pray that never happens,” she said, “but if it does, we want our ministry leaders to be ready with a response.”
The training sessions, a manual and other resources will be available here.