The Baptist General Convention of Texas voted to create a task force to study and recommend responses to sexual abuse issues in Texas Baptist churches.
During a May 23 meeting conducted via Zoom, the board voted 65–1 to approve a recommendation to create the task force to “strengthen and clarify” the BGCT response to sexual abuse in churches.
The nine-member task force will include three Executive Board members, three Texas Baptist pastors who are not on the board and three licensed counselors who are not on the board. The task force also will have access to legal counsel.
Associate Executive Director Craig Christina and BGCT Executive Board Chair Bobby Contreras will appoint members of the task force, which will function until Dec. 31, 2024, unless extended by the board.
“Addressing sexual abuse within the church requires a multifaceted approach,” the background section of the printed recommendation provided to BGCT Executive Board members stated.
“Texas Baptists have been a leader in advocating for prevention in this area through trainings, background checks, policies and procedures, and overall awareness,” the board said. “We remain committed to this important aspect of this issue.”
The BGCT provides access to free sexual abuse awareness training in partnership with MinistrySafe to provide information specifically about child sexual abuse prevention.
In September 2021, the BGCT Executive Board approved a policy declaring any registered sex offender “permanently disqualified” from church leadership. The board approved a policy that any congregation allowing registered sex offenders in church leadership roles “may be considered out of harmonious cooperation” with the convention.
“On the issue of care, for years we have provided recommendations and funding to those dealing with clergy sexual abuse,” the document continued, adding the BGCT remains “committed to meeting this need.”
Questions to examine
However, the document presented to the board stated, a task force can help the BGCT explore additional questions such as:
— “How can we assist churches that become aware of an accusation, recent or decades old, of this nature?”
— “What should BGCT guidelines be for relating to churches and/or volunteers mentioned in such allegations, in their dealings with the BGCT?”
— “At what level of evidence/proof is action required and/or clearance afforded?”
— “If law enforcement declines to pursue an accusation, what steps should a church and/or [the] BGCT take or not take?”
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Ken Camp and originally published by Baptist Standard.