Pastor's Response to SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force Report

by Ray Jones on May 25, 2022

Dear RBC Family,

On Sunday May 22nd Guidepost Solutions released a full report after a year of study on Sexual Abuse in the SBC… this study was initiated by the messengers (of which I was one) at our annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting last year in Nashville. As a result, we appointed an SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force and hired Guidepost Solutions, an independent, and unaffiliated corporation with the task of working together to investigate our denomination’s Executive Committee’s handling or mishandling of sexual abuse claims over a lengthy period of years. The report is lengthy, more than 250 pages, and can be found HERE.

I have grieved at the findings, and I am saddened for those who were victimized by someone in a ministry role and thus harmed spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The report reveals some tragic negligence on the part of some past leadership in our convention and in its response to abuse victims and their appeal regarding specific leaders, pastors, staff members and congregations which were ignored or denied. If you have been reading or following these matters, let me share several things which I trust will provide additional insight.

1. Sexual abuse is without excuse and cannot be justified under any circumstance. We must do our best to always protect the vulnerable and prevent abuse.

2. While the report involves the SBC Executive Committee (a committee made up of representatives/trustees—who are pastors, staff members, and laymen from churches in each state convention), and past Executive Committee paid staff, it does not incriminate all the trustees, most of which, through the years likely never received reports of sexual abuse from the Executive Committee staff and thus were most likely unaware of the issues or how they were handled/mishandled.

3. The report speaks to the matter of autonomy. Since each SBC Church is autonomous, meaning that they are self-governing, they are not bound by Convention actions. Further, because this is true, the Convention can take virtually no punitive action against churches aside from dismissing them, and that only after a vote of the Convention meeting in annual session. Nor can the Convention take actions against individuals who serve in ministry roles, that is left to the individual churches. In other words, an SBC church cannot be compelled to abide by any mandates of any operating convention agencies, any convention resolutions, or convention motions. This is mostly a good thing and has served us well by and large. But it can fall short on some levels.

4. The Executive Committee has responded to the report with a statement that can be found at https://www.sbc.net/ecsatf/ .

5. Our Staff will continue to talk about ways to keep Ridgecrest as safe and secure as we possibly can, and we will seek to stay vigilant and aware of these matters. To the survivors we grieve, pray, and support you.

6. The Sexual Abuse Task Force will bring the Guidepost Report to the upcoming annual SBC meeting in Anaheim, CA with recommendations and suggested steps forward. Pray for them.

7. Again, there is no justification for the disregarding of sexual abuse, whether in the home, the community, the workplace, and certainly the church. While we believe in the grace of God and the redemption of sinners, we must be extremely careful not to excuse sin and the consequential effects of that sin (abuse) on others.

I felt this update might help you understand a bit better the recent report of the Sexual Abuse Task Force, the tragedy of those harmed, and the subsequent media storm associated. Pray for the wounded and pray for our convention as it responds and prayerfully goes forward with a God glorifying mission. As always, I love being your Pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,

Pastor Ray

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