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SBC presidential candidates, state leaders respond to Guidepost report

Editor’s note: This story was updated after its initial publication.

NASHVILLE (BP) – Baptist Press has compiled a list of public statements from Southern Baptist leaders regarding the findings of an investigation by Guidepost Solutions into the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse claims.

First, are statements from each of the three men running for president of the SBC. Following that are public statements from either a group of state Baptist convention leaders or from the state’s executive director-treasurer. Where the statement is from one person, he is named. A link also is provided to the full statement where possible.

Baptist Press intends to add to this compilation as we receive more information.

Tom Ascol — I was grieved deeply as I read the report of the SBC Sex Abuse Task Force. Sex abuse is horrific and failure both to work for its prevention and to respond Christianly in the wake of it should cause Christians and churches to look to the Lord with godly sorrow and repentance.

Southern Baptists must recommit ourselves to uphold God’s standards of holiness and purity in all things, especially in caring for those who are most vulnerable among us.

I also call on all Southern Baptists to join me in carefully studying the Task Force’s recommendations and their implications. There is much before us to consider, and we will need wisdom from above as we chart new paths of mercy and righteousness.

I am confident that our Lord will enable us to do so as we depend on Him for strength and recommit ourselves to seek honor of our crucified and risen Savior.

Full statement here.

Bart Barber — The record represented in this report is clear. Men and women, boys and girls, have been abused in Southern Baptist churches. The churches belong to Jesus Christ, their Founder and Head. Every time abuse happens in a church, the abuser has committed a mutiny against Christ’s lordship over the church and has scandalized His little ones. Jesus said that it would be better for such a one to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6).

Sometimes the victims of that abuse or sometimes the leaders of those churches have called the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to seek advice or to try to protect other churches from enduring the same abuse at the hands of the same abusers. Each of these contacts has presented the Executive Committee with an opportunity to help those churches and those individuals as much as possible. Instead, some people entrusted with leadership at that entity have deliberately helped as little as possible—deliberately refusing to return phone calls and messages, deliberately withholding information that they were collecting about abusers, and deliberately minimizing the amount of helpful advice that they would disclose.

The Executive Committee seems to have been operating under a different notion of local church autonomy—one arising less out of the Bible and more out of Blackstone.1 The biblical doctrine of local church autonomy in no way prevents churches from advising one another, critiquing one another, or establishing or withdrawing fellowship from one another. Yet, although these activities in no way endangered the biblical doctrine of local church autonomy, the Executive Committee’s counsel believed that these activities posed a threat to the Executive Committee’s legal arguments against ascending liability. The biblical doctrine of local church autonomy came to be conflated with that legal argument, although they are not the same thing.

Sometimes our assertions of local church autonomy have seemed insincere to the people on the receiving end of them. Do we want people to take seriously what we say about local church autonomy? Then we should demonstrate with actions our commitment to love them to the fullest extent and seek justice for them to the fullest extent that we can achieve within our beliefs.

Regardless of whether I am elected as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I pledge my efforts toward that end.

Full statement here.

Robin Hadaway — Like everyone in Southern Baptist life, I was troubled and saddened by the contents of Sunday’s release of the report by Guideposts Solutions and the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF). We grieve for the victims and covenant to continue to pray for them.

Guidepost Solutions’ report to the SATF presents 17 recommendations, plus 16 more if one of the 17 is not implemented. In the Baptist Press article today, the SATF indicates it will be “posting formal motions and suggestions before the annual meeting, it has listed a group of ‘a few initial needs’:” First and foremost on the SATF’s list will be a call for the next SBC President to appoint an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force that will suggest steps for the Convention to consider over the next 3 annual meetings.

This seems wise. This will allow the SBC, through her committee process to navigate this difficult situation so the SBC can continue her commitment to evangelism, missions, educational and benevolent causes.”

Alabama (Rick Lance) — Now we all are saddened. We’re grief stricken, deeply grief stricken concerning those who had to endure experiences that no one should have to face. But we as Alabama Baptists need to join together with the larger Southern Baptist family in praying for those who have experienced this trauma.

Last Friday, our State Board of Missions authorized $200,000 for participation in churches to scholarship them to be involved in training for good policies, for prevention, for protection. That $200,000 will be a $200 scholarship for the first 1,000 Alabama Baptist churches wanting to participate.

Full statement here.

Alaska (Randy Covington) – Alaska Baptists grieve the existence of sexual abuse in any setting, but especially when it occurs in the context of the church. We affirm that sexual abuse must not be tolerated in any form, and every measure available should be utilized to prevent individuals from abusing those who are vulnerable. We offer our deepest concerns and prayers for those who have experienced abuse of any sort, and are committed to ministering with Christ’s love to the needs of these individuals.

It is extremely heartbreaking to receive the Guidepost Solutions report. We are thankful that Southern Baptists have taken action to expose and deal with abuse that has occurred within our denomination. Now is the time for deep lamentation and sincere repentance for all Southern Baptists. We, as Alaska Baptists, have been and continue to be committed to giving this issue the attention it demands as we support the work of our churches in taking the gospel to a lost and hurting world.

Statement here.

Arizona (David Johnson) — While Arizona does not appear in the report released Sunday, May 22, by the Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Task Force, we grieve over the reports of sexual abuse that have taken place in SBC churches, institutions, and entities over the past 20 or more years. We are saddened by the conduct of our leaders, and our hearts are broken for the victims and their families. 

The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention stands against sexual abuse of any kind and has posted policies and procedures for our churches to follow to aid in preventing this type of behavior in our churches and among our leaders. Resources for churches are available at azsbc.org/caring-well/.

We recognize the gravity of the recommendations made by Guidepost and the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force, and we commit to continue working toward making our churches and convention a safe place to be.

Full statement here.

Arkansas — The report is nothing short of heartbreaking. Its findings indicate that a problem exists at the highest level of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding the treatment of sexual abuse survivors within our denomination. We must do better! Our prayers are with survivors, and we are overwhelmed by their endurance and strength.

Arkansas Baptists have taken steps to ensure that our state convention and its entities represent Christ regarding handling sexual abuse. With unanimous support from the messengers at the 2021 ABSC Annual Meeting, the Arkansas Baptist Sexual Abuse Task Force was formed. We have been working ever since to ensure the policies and procedures of our state convention and its entities are above reproach.

Full statement here.

California — The abuse brought to light in the report is a cause for us to grieve for those children, women, and men who have suffered sexual abuse. We are saddened by the pain these individuals have experienced. We are disturbed by the manipulation revealed in the report. We take these horrific offenses seriously.  

We commit to pray for the sexual abuse task force as they have an important responsibility in responding to the report and bringing necessary recommendations.

Together we mourn with the victims and intercede on their behalf. We ask God for His will to be done. And we pray for wisdom as we move forward continuing to do the work of the kingdom. 

Full statement here.

Colorado – (Mike Proud) [Statement released May 23] I cannot fully express the emotion I am feeling over this report. I am sickened, saddened, angry and extremely disturbed that these things have taken place in our denomination.  I am grieved for the numerous victims who have not only experienced this violation, but the shameful way they were dismissed when they brought this to light.

I want you to know your Executive Board was already scheduled to meet today and tomorrow (May 23-24) and on their agenda is a Sexual Abuse Protocol which was drafted in April.  We are working diligently to put protocols into place as a convention and to provide resources to our churches so we may do everything within our power to be proactive, transparent, and spare others from this hurt within our state.

Full statement here.

Dakotas (Fred MacDonald) — Two words that come to my mind are ‘disturbing’ and ‘painful.’ It’s hard to put into words the feelings and recognizing the pain that has been caused over the years by men of God.

Full video here.

Florida — Executive Director Tommy Green shared in a letter to pastors that the “Florida Baptist Family grieves over the information shared in the recent Guidepost report. We pray for sexual abuse victims and survivors. We pray for the grace and mercy of God and healing in their lives.”

Thankful for pastors as they continue to “fulfill their calling to the glory of the Lord,” Green asked Florida Baptists to continue to be in prayer in the days ahead. Those days, he said, “will be challenging as the SBC wrestles with how to move forward in response to the revelations in the report.”

Georgia — We are all grieved by the findings of the Guidepost Solutions investigation. The report submitted through the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force revealed disturbing and egregious acts committed on some of our most vulnerable.

We recognize the courage of survivors who continued to share their stories and bravely pursue action from their leaders. We must pray for God to provide strength and healing for all survivors as well as wisdom for everyone dealing with abusive situations. 

Let us commit ourselves to doing all we can so every place of worship is a safe place for everyone. The Special Committee on Sex Abuse appointed by GBC President Kevin Williams will bring recommendations at our state convention in November to assist Georgia Baptists with safety policies, guidelines and procedures.

Full statement here.

Hawaii (Christopher Martin) — As Guidepost Solutions released its report to the Sexual Abuse Task Force of the SBC today, we all should be humbled as we grieve for the victims of sexual abuse. We offer our prayers for God’s healing of abuse victims, their loved ones, and others who are affected.

Among the pages of this report, we find that those victims of deplorable and inexcusable acts opened their lives to needless scrutiny and pain to bravely share the sins committed against them by pastors and leaders in the SBC. But unfortunately, these sins remained hidden and disregarded for far too long.

Your Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention Executive Board has begun strengthening policies and resources to assist our churches in making them safe places of refuge. We ask for your prayers and support in the continuation of this work. We will release more information on these efforts in the coming weeks and months.

Full statement here.

Illinois (Nate Adams) — “Along with many others, I am grieved over the information released today by the SBC’s Sex Abuse Task Force, including the detailed findings in the Guidepost Solutions report. I’m grateful for the Task Force’s concisely stated recommendations, which I’m sure will receive sober and serious considerations by messengers to next month’s Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim. While the focus of the Task Force’s work has been at the national SBC level, any network of churches, including our association of churches here in Illinois, should carefully examine its own practices in responding to victims of abuse, as well as assisting churches in prevention. IBSA is doing so and remains committed to continuing transparent and proactive processes to assist churches in protecting the vulnerable and ministering to those who have experienced abuse.”

Statement here.

Indiana (Ryan Strother) — Today, may all Southern Baptists humble themselves and commit to caring for survivors of sexual abuse. I’m still processing Guidepost Solutions’ “Report of the Independent Investigation,” released last night. I’m deeply grieved and upset by what has been reported. No follower of Jesus should mistreat or intimidate abuse survivors, but rather should be like the Lord who works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed (Psalm 103:4).

Yet, I remain hopeful that the Southern Baptist Convention will humbly change what is necessary to help our churches prevent further abuse. Last year, many messengers made clear that they wanted to take this issue seriously (which led to this investigation and report). The majority of members in SBC churches are committed to Scripture and faithful to God’s work. We can learn through this time of anguish and change the future of the Convention for the better. This is my prayer.

Statement here.

Iowa – Executive Director Tim Lubinus has not released a statement but told Baptist Press the convention is publishing regular updates regarding the investigation and report on its website.

Kansas-Nebraska – We join Southern Baptists around the world in lamenting and repenting of those acts of commission and omission outlined in the report. …

We have been in consultation with numerous men and women who are leaders in our KNSBC churches and associations to begin the process of formulating both better safeguards to protect and clearer pathways to report so that what happened nationally does not happen locally.

Full statement here.

Kentucky (Todd Gray) — After reading the report, the Lord led me to pray for sexual abuse survivors in a way I never had before. Romans 12:15 reminds us to “weep with those who weep,” and this is a time to grieve with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In November 2021, former KBC President Dr. Wes Fowler brought a motion to the messengers of the Kentucky Baptist Convention meeting in Elizabethtown to establish a Kentucky Baptist Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF). That task force was approved unanimously by the messengers and has been actively at work since that time.

Full statement here.

Louisiana (Steve Horn) – I, like many of you, read the report from Guideposts and experienced an array of emotions. We must do better. We must be better. Those affected by sexual abuse deserve better and certainly, our devotion to our Lord demands better. 

As promised during our Annual Meeting last November, we will seek to listen to, and support, those who have suffered abuse. In addition, we will be proactive in implementing strategies that endeavor to eliminate all incidents of sexual abuse among our churches.

During our May Executive Board meeting, I updated our trustees on what’s been done since our November gathering. We will continue to review the report from the SATF and discern what recommendations can and should be adopted among our convention of churches. 

I urge Louisiana Baptists to pray this moment brings us to a place of acknowledgment of sin which leads to repentance that makes way for the fruit of repentance.

For about a year now, we have been calling people to introspection, consecration, intercession, and decision through the personal revival guide, Change Me. Today, more than ever, we need to be praying, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Lord, change me!”

Maryland-Delaware — We are saddened by the Guidepost report released on May 22, and we grieve with the survivors. We admire and applaud their courage in coming forward with their stories. We see them. We hear them. And we support them.

At the BCM/D, we are committed to helping churches create and cultivate a culture where vulnerable people are protected and cared for and are able to heal and thrive. Our work has only just begun. … 

Read the full statement here.

Michigan (Tim Patterson) — After being immersed in the report, my emotions have been from one extreme to the other.

Deep sadness, grief, heartbreak, intense empathy for the victims/survivors, anger, frustration, relief…and much more. There were revelations in the report that were shocking, especially concerning those in the past for whom I have had the greatest of love and admiration.

Executive director Tim Patterson goes on to outline ways his state convention has been engaged in pursuing transparency and protecting people from abuse.

Full statement here.

Minnesota-Wisconsin (Leo Endel) — There is a time for every activity under heaven: … a time to weep… and a time to mourn… (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Today is a time for both.

[T]oday we grieve with those who have been abused, are outraged at those who abused them, and are broken by the lack of action from significant leaders who may have prevented some of this from happening. 

Full statement here.

Mississippi (Shawn Parker) — Although it is difficult and heartbreaking to receive the Guidepost Solutions report, we are thankful that Southern Baptists have taken action to expose and deal with abuse that has occurred within our denomination. Mississippi Baptists have been and continue to be committed to give this issue the needed attention it demands as we support the work of our churches in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).” 

Full statement here.

Missouri (Sexual Abuse Response Team) — We want to be clear. This report reveals an ongoing pattern of sin, idolatrous use of power, and callousness toward the abused. The report made several recommendations for institutional change and cultural repentance.  We are grateful for those leaders and staff members whom the report revealed were serving faithfully throughout different levels of our denomination.

In this time of shock and grief, we offer you two counsels that are prayerfully given and biblically sourced. First, this is a time for prayer, for the abused, for justice, for lamentation and repentance of the perpetrators and our denomination.  Second, we urge you to consider careful and wise responses in this season and that we approach this with a spirit of humility and lamentation.

Full statement here.

Montana (Barrett Duke) — Likely, some of those named in the report would disagree with how it says they dealt with instances of abuse, but, even if the report misses the mark at some specific places, the cumulative effect of the information tells us that Southern Baptist leaders can do much better when it comes to addressing reports of sexual abuse and assisting those who have been abused. We pledge our steadfast commitment to assist our churches in putting needed safeguards in place that will help prevent sexual abuse. We further commit to multiply our resolve to treat any reported sexual abuse in our churches with sensitivity toward and respect for those who have been abused. To that end, we will begin meeting in the coming weeks to discuss how to implement the many excellent recommendations in the Task Force report so that we can take meaningful steps to protect the men, women, and children we serve and to care well for those in our ministries who have been abused.

New England — The BCNE Board of Directors was deeply grieved by the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force report. We call upon all our churches and the leaders of those churches to take the report and its recommendations seriously. We affirm our BCNE President’s recent announcement of a Task Force to make sure our own BCNE policies are as strong as possible so that care for survivors and prevention of future abuse are priorities. We look forward to that Task Force’s report, with actionable recommendations, at our October 2022 Board meeting. Read more here.

New Mexico (Steve Ballew) — My heart is broken today. It is difficult to process another elementary school shooting. As of this morning, 19 children and two adults are counted as senselessly slaughtered.

We live in a world broken by sin. While politicians and news pundits will debate various solutions, the one solution they will miss is the spiritual solution.

The church desperately needs revival. The world around us needs a spiritual awakening. May this event drive us to our knees before the only One who can affect real and lasting change. We must admit our impotence and seek the omnipotence of our great God.

I am grateful for the work of Guidepost Solutions and the Sexual Abuse Task Force for bringing out into the open these disgraceful acts.  I am optimistically prayerful that the messengers who gather in Anaheim in June will be presented with recommendations that will move us forward to a day when we with integrity can testify that we are doing all that we can to protect everyone in our care. 

Read the full statement here.

New York (Terry Robertson) — Although it is difficult and heartbreaking to receive the Guidepost Solutions report, we are thankful that Southern Baptists have taken action to expose and deal with abuse that has occurred within our denomination. BCNY will continue to be committed to give this issue the proper attention it demands as we support the work of our churches in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).”

Full statement here.

North Carolina (Todd Unzicker) — Today’s release of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force report marks a time for our family of churches to grieve, repent, reflect and respond.

We recognize that the contents of this report will cause survivors of abuse to relive painful experiences and memories. I applaud the courage of abuse survivors who came forward to share their stories. We must demonstrate compassion and care to everyone who bears the pain of abuse. …

People won’t trust our gospel if they don’t trust that they can be safe in our sanctuaries. As we pray for the gospel to bring healing and hope to everyone affected by this heinous sin, we must also be proactive in preventing abuse and taking the necessary actions to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Read the full statement here.

Northwest — We encourage Northwest Baptists to read the SATF’s cover letter and the full, detailed Guidepost Solutions report that were released Sunday afternoon. They contain the basis for much of the work in which the denomination in its various expressions will be engaged for a few years to come.

Statement here.

Ohio — When the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to conduct a third-party investigation regarding sexual abuse in our convention, we knew the results would be disturbing. Ohio Baptists grieve with the rest of our SBC family as well as the watching world at the findings of the Guidepost report. We especially grieve with survivors who may feel wounded afresh with the revelations of the report.

Sexual abuse is not only a barrier to the gospel; it is an attack on the gospel. The abuse of another person made in the image of God within the context of the local church is an unthinkable act of darkness. Just as light dispels darkness, however, truth dispels deception. The Guidepost report, while painful, is necessary to reform and healing.

In November 2021, Ohio Baptists expressed our commitment to address the scourge of sexual abuse with the creation of the SCBO Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF). The SATF is conducting a review of all SCBO policies regarding sexual abuse and is drafting new policies and pathways for prevention and appropriate response within our convention.

Just as we long for the day when God will wipe away all tears from every eye, we are grieved now by the tears of survivors. Now is the time for us to shed tears of grief and repentance which will lead to God-honoring reform in our churches and our convention.

Oklahoma (Todd Fisher) — I am heartbroken and sickened as I read the findings of the Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Task Force. I am grieved for each and every one of the abuse survivors. Southern Baptists must unquestionably be more vigilant in preventing abuse, reporting abuse, and caring for survivors of abuse. This is a pivotal moment for the SBC. We must learn from this report and be faithful in protecting the vulnerable among us.

Pennsylvania-South Jersey (Baptist Resource Network) (Barry Whitworth) — It is a serious day in the Southern Baptist Convention. On Sunday, May 22, Guidepost Solutions, an independent research firm hired by the SBC’s Executive Committee at the requests of messengers at last year’s SBC annual meeting, issued their 288-page report.

The Baptist Resource Network is committed to protecting against all abuse, whether children, women and/or vulnerable adults. We are so serious about this that in recent days, before this report came out, our Executive Board unanimously voted to adopt a “BRN Abuse Prevention” policy for our organization.

Full statement here.

South Carolina (Gary Hollingsworth) — We are grieved by the results of the Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Task Force report. Foremost, we are grieved for the survivors that have been overlooked, unheard, or dismissed. We lament the actions and abuses that have brought us to this point. In the midst of this grief, we are not without hope. At the South Carolina Baptist Convention Annual Meeting last year, we commissioned our own Sexual Abuse Task Force to respond and apply the results of the national report to our own internal processes, as well as the resourcing of our 2,100 South Carolina Baptist churches.

Full statement here.

Tennessee (Randy Davis) — I believe we have some serious and difficult decisions ahead of us as a people. Many of those decisions are going to hurt, but I don’t see any way forward unless we address what’s been disclosed. I am still trying to process the recommendations, but those need to be looked at closely for how we can ensure that every Southern Baptist church is a safe place for every woman, man, girl and boy to come and focus on worshipping the Lord.

More here.

BGCT — Our hearts break at the findings of the Guidepost Solutions report released by the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force. We join others across Texas and beyond in lament and earnest prayer, acknowledging the failures of the past, accepting the present report’s findings and recommendations and looking ahead with resolve to future change.

We continue to urge churches and staff towards a proactive approach focused on sexual abuse prevention, reporting, and compassionate care, even as we look for opportunities to strengthen efforts wherever possible.

Full statement here.

SBTC — The contents of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force report cause us to grieve for those who have been affected by sexual abuse. We can only imagine the pain and trauma survivors have endured through the reliving and retelling of their experiences, and we are grateful for their courage in coming forward. As a family of churches, we must do better. We must repent of our sin, learn from our past, care for those affected, and respond with clear pathways forward. SBTC churches and church leaders can be assured of the SBTC’s commitment to embrace constructive pathways to restoration and healing, to work to comfort and minister to survivors of abuse in our own network, and to continue to evaluate and reform our own policies, procedures, and ministries toward prevention. The SBTC task force, authorized by unanimous vote of the messengers in our November 2021 Annual Meeting, has been working diligently to strengthen our efforts within our own network of churches. May God grant us forgiveness where there is sin, healing where there is hurt, encouragement where there is hope, and the mind of Christ in all things.

Full statement here.

Utah-Idaho — The details in the Guidepost Solutions report are egregious and deeply disturbing. We are heartbroken for the victims of sexual abuse. There is no level of sexual abuse nor mistreatment of women, children, or men that is acceptable. In honor of the courage of the survivors who came forward to report abuse, and for the sake of righteousness in our denomination, the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention heartily affirms the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force Report. In addition, we ask the messengers, churches, and those in leadership positions in the Executive Committee, the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention to pray for God’s wisdom, compassion, and strength to make the necessary changes to ensure the safety of all who attend our churches.

Read the full statement here.

SBCV (Brian Autry) — I can’t begin to imagine the hurt and grief of survivors whose trust in leadership has been broken. It grieves me to see more leaders failing to finish well or serve as God intends. It is heartbreaking, sobering, grieving, and challenging beyond words. We, indeed, must humble ourselves, learn, and seek solutions to serve and care better for people. 

Over the last year, our state convention launched a Caring Well Task Force to provide safe resources and information for survivors, churches, and individuals seeking to learn best practices for how to navigate the subject of spiritual and sexual abuse and domestic violence. This task force meets on a regular basis and has a regularly scheduled meeting this week.

Read the full statement here.

West Virginia — We strongly encourage you to intentionally carve out time in your schedule and read yesterday’s release of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force report.

The weightiness of these findings should humble us before God. We pray this process moves Southern Baptists towards repentance and an increased sense of urgency regarding such matters.

West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists remain faithful to God’s call to care for others. We have been proactive in recent years in how we recognize, prevent, and care for the abused through training and awareness. We are encouraged by our messengers’ initiative to create a WVCSB Sexual Abuse Task Force last November, and our Executive Board will hear their report in two weeks. A complete report will be given to our messengers in November. We want to continually improve and grow as shepherds who protect the sheep God has entrusted to us. Our churches should be places of safety for the vulnerable and healing for the hurting.

Full statement here.

Wyoming (Quin Williams) — Over this past week, I have read the report on sex abuse investigation by Guidepost Solutions.  As I read the report and reread portions of the report, I was dismayed to know that vulnerable people had been victimized at the hands of church leaders.  If there is any safe place for anyone in our society, it should be in the presence and under the protection of those of us who are kept in the hand of our Lord and Savior.  Survivors of abuse, especially sex abuse should find a place of safety in our churches.  Nothing less is acceptable.  Then, to see the reports that some of them had their stress and emotional suffering was worsened when they sought relief from some of our national leaders added to the heartbreak.

A few things Wyoming Southern Baptist need to do at this point are:

1) Pray for the survivors of sex abuse, both those named in the report and the many others who are not named.  These folks still hurt every day.

2) Pray for our Executive Committee.  The vast majority of the members of the EC were found to bear no responsibility for the mishandlings of reported abuse.  They have a heavy burden now to bear.

3) While, to date, no one from a Wyoming Southern Baptist Church has been named as an abuser in this report, we cannot be naïve to the fact that these things could happen here.  Therefore, each of our churches, regions, entities, and our Network in general must have a plan in place to report abuses and abusers to proper authorities.  We must also must make every effort to see that the vulnerable are given a save place and that survivors must be given the best possible care.

4) As we move forward in the wake of this report and the difficult facts that it presents, we must do better in the area of caring for the abused.  As we find ways to do better, we must add these advances as a means to better spread the Truth of the Gospel to a hurting world that needs Jesus.

Let us all now turn ourselves to dependency upon the leadership of our Lord.  Above all else, we need His comfort and direction to bring something of value from the troubling times we find ourselves in today.

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