Grieved beyond Words… and Resolved
|This collection of mug shots includes a portion of the 220 people who, since 1998, worked or volunteered in Southern Baptist churches and were convicted of or pleaded guilty to sex crimes. - Source: HoustonChronicle.com|
By Denny Burk
The Houston Chronicle has published part one of an extensive investigative report on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist Churches (there will be two more installments in coming days). They uncovered 250 ministry leaders and volunteers who have been convicted as sex offenders and over 700 of their victims. Those numbers alone are horrid, but I agree with the report that there are likely many other such instances that were not uncovered by this investigation.
The report reveals horrors that have long been out of the light of day. Without question, the most difficult parts to read are the testimonies from the victims. They are beyond heartbreaking. I can hardly imagine what some of these dear souls have been through and how difficult it must have been to come forward. But I am grateful that they did.
I hope their courage inspires resolve on the part of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. We need to grieve, listen to, and pray for these victims. We also need to act. Just because our churches are autonomous doesn’t mean we can do nothing. The stories of these victims illustrate the urgency of the work of the SBC’s “Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group,” which SBC President J. D. Greear appointed last summer to investigate practical steps the SBC can take to prevent sexual abuse in our churches. This group’s assignment is…
“…to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernable action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions. This group will study both how Southern Baptists are currently engaging these issues and develop recommendations in consultation with relevant SBC entities on strategies and resources for ministering to victims and protecting people and churches from predators.”Continue reading here.
- For sex abuse trauma, churches must be 'trustworthy' (Baptist Press)