Elders, staff, and members of Cuyahoga Valley Church have rightfully been concerned about the response to sexual abuse among the 47,000 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches that make up the Convention in North America.
A seven-month investigation was carried out by Guidepost Solutions, an independent company hired by the SBC Executive Committee (EC) after delegates at the 2021 national meeting called for an outside investigation.
The investigative report said that leaders at the Southern Baptist Executive Committee failed to respond with compassion to survivors of sexual abuse. Instead, these leaders cited the local autonomy of the local church as a reason for not reporting the sexual abuse and holding the abusers accountable.
The report concluded that allegations of sexual abuse and assault were filed confidentially at SBC headquarters in Nashville. The result was that some pastors with credible allegations of sexual abuse were able to move from a church where the abuse occurred to another church that knew nothing about the previous abuse.
The report from Guidepost Solutions was heartbreaking. SBC churches rightfully expected more, and deserved more, from our leaders.
The failure to report abuse put survivors in a position where they were forced to fight for themselves when the leaders of the SBC Executive Committee should have been fighting for them. As North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear said, “The church should be a place where people know they are safe and where leaders are who they say they are. Protecting the vulnerable is not a distraction from the mission, it is our mission.”
After the Guidepost Solutions report was made public, the CVC Missions Development Team (MDT) and the CVC Elders made the decision to withhold CVC funds given through the Cooperative Program to SBC mission causes. The MDT and the Elders wanted to make sure that proper actions would be taken by the SBC leadership to take measures to protect church members and attenders from further abuse, to hold sexual offenders accountable, and to support and care for survivors.
At the 2022 SBC Convention in Anaheim, the delegates almost unanimously voted for two recommendations related to sex abuse issues. One, a task force was created to oversee sex abuse reforms and to make additional recommendations to the 2023 Convention that will meet in New Orleans. Two, a database has been established – a “Ministry Check” website – to list credibly accused offenders associated with SBC churches in order to prevent abusers from easily moving to other congregations. In addition, leaders and advisors to the EC who were complicit to sexual abuse are no longer leading the EC. The new leaders of the EC have pledged to work to eliminate sex abuse within the SBC.
At a press conference following the session at the Convention in Anaheim, attorney and sexual abuse survivor Rachael Denhollander said the passing of the recommendations is the result of the “tireless efforts of the survivors” who “didn’t give up.”
The delegates to the 2022 SBC Convention heard the cries of survivors for justice. Abusers have been held accountable. Steps are being taken to protect the vulnerable. Complicit leaders have been removed. Repentance is occurring. Change is taking place.
For these reasons, the CVC Elders and MDT feel confident that it is wise and good stewardship to release CVC funds to the Cooperative Program – funds that are used to support the missionary personnel of the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, 6 SBC seminaries, and the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
Read the International Mission Board report here.
Read the North American Mission Board report here.
Read the key resolutions from the Convention here.
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