Last fall, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s executive committee voted to direct our state convention officials to conduct a comprehensive review of our existing policies, procedures and materials related to sexual abuse awareness, prevention, reporting and response. Our review was voluntarily undertaken and not based on any known issues of negligence or mishandling of sexual abuse cases by the state convention, but rather from a desire to be proactive in addressing this important issue.
As followers of Christ, our desire is to address the issue of sexual abuse with clarity, conviction and compassion. This is our opportunity to assure that we are doing all that can be done to prevent and respond to sexual abuse. It is fortuitous that a similar discussion will begin at the national level with our national convention in Anaheim, Calif., meeting this month to address the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Sexual Abuse Task Force’s report analyzing issues and providing recommendations for dealing with abuse.
The Task Force, which was charged with overseeing an independent third-party review of the SBC executive committee’s long-term handling of sexual abuse cases will formally deliver the final report to the messengers. We look forward to hearing more about recommendations on how to handle the issue of sexual abuse and commit to implementing them.
As conversations regarding sexual abuse percolate nationally and in individual states, I’m thankful that North Carolina Baptists have already grasped the opportunity to examine and improve what we are doing. It is important each of you individually and as a church community know that sexual abuse is an issue that your state convention takes seriously and will continue to avidly address.
As I noted last fall and reiterate now, our review was independently motivated out of care and concern, and for the benefit of North Carolina Baptists. The review will include all state convention ministry areas, which include our camps and conference centers, as well as Fruitland Baptist Bible College.
Our review is limited to state convention ministries and not N.C. Baptist churches. However, we want this review to help us better serve the churches in our state by equipping them with resources on how to prevent abuse and care for survivors and victims.
I will present a final report based on the findings of the review — along with any action steps or recommendations — to our board of directors at a regularly scheduled meeting this September. I will also present the report to messengers at our N.C. Baptist annual meeting this November.
Our desire is to go above and beyond expectations for this review so that N.C. Baptists can feel confident that their state convention cares about these issues, handles them with excellence and is prepared to help our family of churches in this area.
How we respond to sexual abuse speaks volumes about what we believe as we seek to demonstrate the love of Christ to others. Part of being on mission together involves us being proactive in our approach to preventing abuse and caring well for those who bear the pain of abuse. It is vital that we are active in the fight against abuse. Thank you for being known by your love and your care.