Three members of the SBC’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force spent a little over an hour sharing with about 50 associational leaders and others Sunday evening, June 11, at the Marriott in New Orleans.
Task force chair Marshall Blalock and members Brad Eubank and Jon Nelson provided a sneak peek to the group’s official report coming during the Tuesday afternoon session of the SBC Annual Meeting.
They worked with Ray Gentry, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders, to specifically get in front of associational mission strategists/directors of missions because of their relationships with and proximity to the churches.
‘We want to be a resource’
“We want to come alongside you and help do things with you, for you, not tell you what to do. We want to be a resource,” said Eubank, pastor of First Baptist Church Petal, Mississippi.
The task force “loves Christ and wants to honor Him in everything we say and do,” he said. “We want to help churches try to prevent sexual abuse.”
Helping victims, families heal
Noting a variety of statistics such as how 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they turn 18, Eubank shared how he falls among the stats.
A male college student who got to know Eubank at church and “became part of our family and like a fourth son … took advantage of that relationship and molested me from age 8 to age 12,” he explained. “I stand before you as a survivor.
“Abuse does not just affect the victim but the family (and) forgiveness is a lifelong process,” Eubank said, noting pastors need resources to assist both the victim and the family when abuse happens.
“I’ve never seen any resources designed for churches to help those in their church to heal from abuse,” he said, adding it’s also important to be aware of the potential danger within the church.
Two parts to Ministry Check site
Nelson shared how the new Ministry Check website, which will go live Tuesday during the annual meeting, will have two parts — the list of the credibly accused (which has an extensive vetting process in place) and a toolbox filled with resources.
“We want to bring awareness and place the resources in a place where you know where they are and can share them,” he said.
Nelson noted five focus areas covered with the coming resources:
- Train — Ongoing training is suggested for volunteers to prevent incidents of abuse in the church.
- Screen — Church leaders should adopt a screening option and a careful vetting process.
- Protect — Create and implement policies and procedures and review them every year.
- Report — Develop and maintain relationships with authorities and have a plan for reporting.
- Care — Suggestions for ways to provide for victims and their families will be available.
‘It’s a gospel issue’
Eubank said those attending the annual meeting will receive two cards on Tuesday explaining the database and toolbox.
“Too often over this last year, the Great Commission and sex abuse reform have been pitted against each other. … Those are not … opposites; they are the exact same thing,” he said. “We can’t go share the gospel if we are not taking care of our churches and making them the safest place on earth.
“It is a gospel issue,” he emphasized. “The Bible says in Proverbs 31:8–9: ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.’ ”
The associational leaders also had time to ask Blalock questions following the group’s presentation. He explained the initial database would be “thin” because of the extensiveness of reviewing and vetting each name being added.
For more context and news surrounding the task force investigation and findings, click here.
To view more photos from this event, click here.