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Pastor James' Statement on the Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Report

On Sunday May 22, a report was released by Guidepost Solutions that detailed horrific actions done by leaders in and close to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Some of these actions include: sexual abuse, slander, intimidation, and a mishandling of abuse allegations.  While I have not read the entire 288 page document, I have read enough to be saddened, angered, frustrated, and extremely disappointed by the catalogue of failure by some of those in leadership.  First and foremost, we should pray for the victims of abuse.  Abuse breaks the heart of God. Second, the convention as a whole should get on their face before God, repent, and ask Him for forgiveness.  

Nationally, this is going to take time to sort through.  There will be a reckoning from this report that will be felt for many years to come.  Locally, we will continue our practice of requiring every person serving with kids or youth to have a background check and complete child protection training through a nationally recognized provider.  We will also continue to review our practices to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our people from predators.  If someone is ever credibly accused of abuse, we will call the police immediately and take the necessary steps to get that person out of ministry.  

We are a cooperating church of the Southern Baptist Convention.  My thoughts about cooperation and the future are as follows:

The messengers of the convention initiated the investigation.  While there was failure at the top of the convention, it was the messengers of the 2021 convention that demanded an independent,  third-party investigation be conducted and a report given regardless of what was uncovered.  This gives me hope that the right steps will be taken in the future.

Leadership has changed.  Many of the people in leadership at the time when these credible reports were made are gone.  New leadership has emerged and I am confident they will do the right things.  
While much damage has been done, I believe cooperation with the SBC is still the best path forward...for now.  I have been a member of a Southern Baptist Church my whole life.  I have 2 degrees from our educational institutions and am working on a 3rd.

I love the International Mission Board and the partnerships we have with the Stuaffers, McPherson’s, and Allen, Marie, and Todd.  I appreciate much of what we do as a convention and believe that we are better together than we are separate.  With that said, I will continue to evaluate the direction of the convention and make recommendations to the church on what I believe is the best past forward.  For now, that path is to remain a cooperating member.

Proactive steps are currently underway to respond to the findings of the report.  There is a clear desire among Southern Baptists to address these matters and some of the actions being taken are:  a. Establishment of hotline to report abuse.  b. Publishing of a database of reported abusers for churches to use during the hiring process.  c. Review of policies and procedures.  

I know this has been just as painful to read as it was to write.  But our church family has been faithful in our support of the mission of the convention through the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, and Annie Armstrong.  You, along with every other Southern Baptist church, have the right to know what is going on within our convention.  We should always stand against this deplorable behavior.  

Below is a link to the entire report as well as some articles that have been written about it.  Know that I count it an honor to be one of your Pastors and if you have any questions about this matter, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

In Him,

Guidepost Solutions Independent Investigative Report

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