For Southern Baptists, sex abuse prevention is a local matter

Religion News Service | 2/15/2019 | Staff
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DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — When it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse, The Summit Church has it down.

The church, led by J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has put in place strict policies and procedures for anyone who comes in contact with a child, whether it’s a pastor, a youth minister, Sunday school teacher, or a volunteer.

Criminal - Background - Check - List - References

All must undergo a national criminal background check, provide a list of references not including family members, undergo training and submit to being shadowed for a minimum of four weeks.

But this church, with a staff of 200 and a weekend attendance of 10,000 spread across 10 satellite campuses in four counties, is exceedingly rare.

Baptist - Church - Sunday - Worship - Attendance

The average Southern Baptist church has a Sunday worship attendance of 145 — and few or no policies in place to protect children from abuse.

While no church policies or procedures are foolproof, the absence of standard, vetted policies is a problem Southern Baptist leaders are beginning to wrestle with.

Churches - Example - Background - Checks - Recruits

More churches, for example, are conducting background checks on new recruits, but those churches are still a minority. Over the past nine years, LifeWay, the SBC’s publishing arm, has helped 16,000 churches perform background checks. But not all of those churches were Southern Baptist.

Sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches was the subject of a newspaper investigation published this week by The Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News. The three-part series detailed two decades of church sexual abuse and involves some 700 victims.

Series - Baptists - Allegations - Misconduct - Years

The series found 380 Southern Baptists who faced allegations of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. Of those, 35 were able to find new jobs at churches despite documented predatory behavior.

To Greear, the newspaper investigation was not only timely, it was, in his words, “providential.”

Monday - Feb - List - Recommendations - Abuse

On Monday (Feb. 18), he is scheduled to outline a list of recommendations for preventing abuse...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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