It’s been one year since the Houston Chronicle broke the news about allegations of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches and the response of many churches and organizations to hide or minimize these criminals. The question we must ask ourselves is, what can my church do to prevent sexual abuse in our ministry setting?
Unfortunately, too many churches feel abuse cannot or will not happen at their church. Faulty thinking that “we know everyone here,” “we are a church out in the middle of nowhere,” or “that only happens at big churches” is still prevalent.
The assumption that the church must be a safe place because it is a church leads members to let down their guard. That can be the time when the enemy strikes and devastates the lives of children and teens and the witness of the church to the community through allegations of sexual abuse.
A bright spot is the dawning of a new sense of urgency in some churches to proactively acknowledge that they have a responsibility to provide safe and secure environments for their children and teens.
More associational missions strategists are hosting training conferences in their associations. Both the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) and the Southern Baptist Convention are creating resources to assist churches with policy development as well as offering training on how to prevent abuse.
The assumption that the church must be a safe place because it is a church leads members to let down their guard.
The SBC has created the Caring Well Initiative, and the BSCNC’s Embrace women’s ministry has produced a resource titled Responding Well, to help churches as they respond to those who have been abused. There is now discussion about accountability within the SBC for churches that hide or harbor abusers.
The Baptist state convention is continuing to move forward in assisting churches in this important task. One opportunity for learning more about sexual abuse prevention in your church is a series of trainings titled “Safety and Security in Your Ministry Context” that will be offered throughout the state this year. These trainings will be offered twice a day, morning and evening, so that it will be accessible to as many people as possible. Visit ncbaptist.org/safetyandsecurity for the dates and locations near you.
The BSCNC is also bringing MinistrySafe back to North Carolina on Sept. 18-19, 2020, at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. MinistrySafe is recognized as a leading authority on sexual abuse prevention training and resources. Kimberly Norris will speak on recognizing signs of abuse in your church as well as steps you can take to vet potential staff, employees and volunteers. More details about this event will be available soon.
Another step BSCNC is taking is to provide a one-stop information and resource page that will soon appear on the state convention’s website.
With the availability of these resources and training every church in North Carolina can become a champion of protecting the children and teens in their church. Are you ready to join us?
For more information about safety and security in your ministry setting, contact Cheryl Markland, [email protected].
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