Southern Baptists Work to Address Sexual Abuse

As one of his first official acts, J. D. Greear, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will partner with the denomination’s policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), to form a study group on sexual abuse.

According to the ERLC, the group’s purpose will be to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions. This group will also study both how Southern Baptists are currently engaging these issues and also develop recommendations on strategies and resources for ministering to victims and protecting people and churches from predators.

 

The Story: The Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, is forming a study group to address sexual abuse.

The Background: As one of his first official acts, J. D. Greear, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will partner with the denomination’s policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), to form a study group on sexual abuse. The group will be composed of both Southern Baptist leaders and also outside experts who will advise Greear on a broad range of issues related to sexual abuse, including sexual assault and domestic violence.

According to the ERLC, the group’s purpose will be to consider how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions. This group will also study both how Southern Baptists are currently engaging these issues and also develop recommendations on strategies and resources for ministering to victims and protecting people and churches from predators.

Greear, who also serves as pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, says, “How we as a convention of churches care for abuse victims and protect against vile predators says something about what we believe about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“Our churches should be a refuge for the hurting and a safe haven for the oppressed,” Greear added. “Over the next year, I look forward to hearing from this group and partnering with our churches, state conventions, local associations, seminaries, and national entities to determine what we can do to equip churches to minister effectively and stand guard against any who would seek to prey on the vulnerable.”

Why It Matters: At their recent denominational meeting in June, Southern Baptists issued a resolution condemning abuse, which they defined as “any act or conscious failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person.” Sexual abuse is a subset of abuse that involves some form of sexual misconduct, an umbrella term for a range of behavior used to obtain sexual gratification against another’s will or at the expense of another.

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