On Sunday, Southern Baptists were rocked to the core as they read the Houston Chronicle and learned about the report of over 700 individuals being sexually abused within the supposed safety of Southern Baptist Churches. As Baptists read the article and the news spread around social media, we were grieved, angered and mourned those who had been victimized but such evil people. I wept as I read the reports of sexual abuse. We are well beyond the point of asking, “How can people do this?” and to the reality, that evil men and women are hurting our children, and adults, in untold evil and horrific ways within the supposed safety of our church walls. As a Convention, we can not stand idly by. This report must grieve us, but we also must go beyond feeling to action. Sexual abuse cannot be allowed to continue in any fashion within the ministry of the local church. As a church, I am pleased to say First Southern Baptist of Salina has already taken many steps to assure our children can learn, play and worship in a safe environment.
FSBC, Salina, has taken a proactive approach to church safety. For many years the church has vetted potential child workers through a deep screening process. If you want to work with children, you must complete the screening. There are no exceptions. Last year we even expanded the net wider to include screening everyone who would like to be a part of any ministry in our church. If you want to volunteer at the Coffee Bar, we ask you to be screened. A couple of years ago we established a “Safe Church” team whose primary job is to evaluate and implement safe church strategies continually. We also have cameras strategically placed around the church. We have a strong safety protocol within our church, including a two-adult rule in our rooms. We try extremely hard to make sure an adult alone in the room with a minor. If they are for some reason, we have a mandatory “door open” policy. Finally, we have a zero tolerance for sexual sin. If there is an accusation of sexual abuse in our church, rather staff or volunteer, we immediately contact the police, remove the person from serving, and allow the issue to be taken through the proper external and legal investigation. We treat all sexual abuse as a criminal act and allow the authorities to get to the truth. At First Southern Baptist, Salina, we believe very strongly in the safety and well-being of our children (birth – 18 years of age) and adults, of any age, and have taken many steps to create a safe environment. We hope to make our environment extremely difficult for a sexual predator to commit these acts of evil while on our campus.
For many years, churches across America have covered up sexual abuse. We must stop this immediately. God in His mercy, has exposed the sin. Now exposed, we can deal with sin. As a Convention, we must take proper actions to assure sexual abuse is eradicated in all churches everywhere. As a Baptist, I’m so sorry for those who were abused and hurt through the evil of these people. It angers me and grieves me. Thankfully, sin has been exposed. Pastors, please use this exposure of sin as a catalyst to act. Evaluate your safety plan. If you need help or ideas, please let me know. Our church would be more than happy to help you and your church. We don’t live in fear, but we do implement and plan for the good of others and the glory of God. Parents, you and your children are as safe as possible at First Southern Baptist Church, Salina. We will continue to strive to make FSBC, Salina, a safe church. If you have questions, please contact me. I would always welcome questions and suggestions on how we can make our church even safer. Finally, please remember, people fail but God never fails.
One of the great Southern Baptist voices is Russell Moore. I trust him and have often found he and I think along the same lines about many issues. He is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Here is his response. Russell Moore
Here is the original article: Houston Chronicle