Arkansas Baptists vote to form sex abuse task force
By BP Staff
CABOT, Ark. (BP) – Messengers to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention annual meeting voted unanimously in favor of a motion to look into the convention’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.
The motion was presented during the afternoon session Tuesday (Oct. 26) and calls for the new convention president (who has not yet been elected) to “form a sexual abuse task force to ensure the policies and procedures of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) are above reproach in handling sexual abuse allegations.”
The motion also states that the ABSC has no authority over local churches, but that the intent is to “ensure that where the ABSC does have purview, it is above reproach.”
The motion calls for the task force to give a report on best practices and steps taken to messengers to the 2022 annual meeting.
In a statement, ABSC Executive Director Sonny Tucker said his “heart breaks” for victims of sexual abuse and that he fully affirms the establishment of the task force in order to “ensure the ABSC operates by the highest standards possible. …”
“We will continue to utilize resources to serve churches in order to prevent sexual abuse from ever occurring,” the statement said. “Also, we will continue to seek ways to bring help, comfort and healing for those who have suffered sexual abuse.”
The statement was also signed by several others in ABSC leadership.
Oklahoma Baptists partner in ‘Serve Tour’ across Tulsa
By Chris Forbes/Baptist Messenger
TULSA (BP) – Churches from across the state converged on the Tulsa metro area with one thing in mind – community service. The North American Mission Board (NAMB), in partnership with the Tulsa Metro Association and Oklahoma Baptists kicked off its Send Relief Serve Tours on October 15-16 with Serve Tour Tulsa.
The service event included 350 volunteers from 47 churches who spread out across the greater Tulsa metro area to complete 32 ministry service projects in Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Coweta, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs and Sapulpa. Along with in-state volunteers, there were servers representing Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina.
Volunteers participated in caring ministries for various communities, serving local churches, bi-vocational pastors and low-income schools. Some projects included light construction, painting, landscaping and hosting sports camps and block parties. Volunteer teams also served foster families and people experiencing homelessness.
Serve Tour Tulsa volunteer Carrie Sowell said it was an honor to serve the Tulsa metro area communities alongside fellow Oklahoma Baptists through the various community projects.
“Many families have given up their fall break to be a part of this project,” Sowell explained. “One of our projects was partnering with Care Portal (a networking website used by churches to help resource foster parents) and blessing our foster families with responses to their requests.
“Today we have a sweet mom who is a kinship foster parent,” Sowell continued. “This means she has stepped up when a child in her family was in need. Recently her car caught fire, and she was in desperate need for new and safe transportation. We presented her with a vehicle, and we couldn’t be more excited to bless her, pray with her and love on her.”
Tulsa Serve Tour project manager Mike Lehew who is also pastor of Sapulpa, Church Inside Out, said Serve Tour Tulsa surpassed his expectations.
“Project after project,” Lehew said, “I heard of divine encounters of salvation, connections made to the local church and the body of Christ encouraging people, as the Gospel was advanced. Serve Tour Tulsa was a springboard for churches and individuals to continue to get outside the walls of their churches to go after ‘the one.’” Lehew referenced the parable of the lost sheep (Matt. 18: 10–14).
“In the next few weeks,” he continued, “we are going to have a ‘what’s next’ meeting to capitalize on what God has done through His church to advance the Gospel.”