Excerpt from the Guidepost Solutions Report:
For almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) Executive Committee (“EC”) to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press…only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.
Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations. In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.
As a Christian, pastor, man, husband, father, volunteer soccer coach, and any other way I can define myself, this sickens me. In my brief mention of this last Sunday, I was made aware that I put the entire Executive Committee (EC) in the coverup. In my attempt to explain the situation, I had said that there was a coverup by the Executive Committee. I should have added two words to that comment, I should have said that there was a coverup by SOME IN the Executive Committee.
As a Southern Baptist Church, we have to understand that we, too, will be thrown into the guilty party’s actions by association. In the coming weeks, months, and even years, this sin will impact the ministry of White Plains Baptist Church. As far as I know, we are not at all guilty of anything in this report, but it will impact us. It will affect the way outsiders view us.
As your pastor, I want you to know that we are taking steps as a staff and deacon team to ensure the continued safety of the children in our midst. We have recently changed our insurance company to one that will partner with us to help develop policies and procedures to ensure safe ministry environments. I am working with our staff to examine our current ministry procedures, we are researching best practices, and getting a full picture of what safe, accountable, and healthy ministry should look like in the wake of this tragedy.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. – Psalm 127:3, NASB
Children indeed are a gift from God, not only to a family but also to a church family. We love kids here at White Plains. We are planning for a fun fall restart of many of our Kids’ programs. I pray that our church family never has to deal with an actual case of abuse like what has been outlined in the Guidepost report, I will promise to you that if I ever receive word of this type of abuse, I will not cover anything up, not to protect the abuser, not to protect any organization. I will do my duty to report it, protect the innocent, and see to it that God is honored even amongst sin. It’s shameful that pastors and churches are having to state this as this should be the norm in ministry.
Ministry must move forward, but we must realize that our witness has been tarnished. A world hostile to Christ, just got a bit more hostile. But God is good, He will prevail. He will use this for His good, even if we can’t understand it.