June 11, 2018
By Jeff Huett
DALLAS. — A task force launched two years ago by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist Women in Ministry to educate and resource churches about clergy sexual misconduct will preview an educational video and a church policy guideline resource at the General Assembly this week in Dallas.
The video and resource, titled “Safe Churches and Ministers,” will be previewed in a workshop led by Baptist Women in Ministry Executive Director Pam Durso, CBF Associate Coordinator for Partnerships and Advocacy Stephen Reeves and other members of the task force at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Pegasus A. The session is titled“#churchtoo: Resourcing Your Congregation on the Issue of Clergy Sexual Abuse”.
To help kick-off General Assembly at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Reunion G, a session titled “#metoo: Join The Movement, Be the Change” will be led by Durso and will include a discussion of the #metoo and #churchtoo movements and provide insight about how Cooperative Baptists can work for change, speak truth and care for victims.
Durso expressed the urgency of this issue in Baptist life.
“The seriousness of clergy sexual misconduct demands a diligent response, especially by freedom-loving, autonomous Baptist churches,” she said. “For Baptists to create healthy church systems and to ensure the presence of ethical, honest, trusted minsters in those churches requires hard conversations, intentional education, and consistent attention from all corners of the Baptist world, including ministers, church leaders, denominational leaders and seminary professors.”
She said clergy sexual misconduct encompasses numerous behaviors—all of which need attention.
“Fortunately, most Baptist congregations have established policies and procedures with regard to abuse and assault of children,” she said, “but few Baptist churches have guidelines that address clergy sexual misconduct with adults.”
Comprised of nine other leaders from across the Fellowship, the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force is led by Durso and Reeves. The panel set out two years to collect best practices and policy guidelines that could be distributed and to raise awareness by creating educational resources for congregational use and by offering educational opportunities.
Long term, the task force seeks to create a system that takes recommendations of ministers and laity who have committed acts of clergy sexual misconduct and maintain a witness to their being unfit for continued ministry/leadership. Also, it aims to work with partner institutions to cultivate research on statistics and trends of clergy sexual misconduct in general and specifically in Baptist life and to create resources, trainings, and programming for seminary students and professors on prevention and responses to clergy sexual misconduct. Finally, the task force will work with institutional partners to identify or develop recovery services for survivors of clergy sexual misconduct, including counseling, advocacy, or referral services for the survivors, congregations, and perpetrators and their families.
The task force now is comprised of two attorneys, two pastors, four church staff members, four individuals with social work degrees, two seminary professors, two leaders of CBF partner organizations, one pastoral counselor and several survivors and/or family members of survivors. Those serving are:
- Anne Cronic—minister of music, Central Baptist Church, Newnan, Georgia
- Pam Durso—executive director, Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia
- Jennifer Hawks—associate general counsel, Baptist Joint Committee, Washington, D.C.
- Jenny Hodge—youth minister, Churchland Baptist Church, Chesapeake, Virginia
- Jay Kieve—coordinator, CBF of South Carolina, Anderson, South Carolina
- Nina Maples—senior associate pastor for pastoral care and leadership development, Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky
- David Pooler—associate dean for baccalaureate and graduate studies at Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland’s School of Social Work, Waco, Texas
- Micah Pritchett—pastor, North Broad Baptist Church, Rome, Georgia
- Stephen Reeves—associate coordinator of partnership and advocacy, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Georgia
- Terry Rosell—professor of pastoral theology in ethics and ministry praxis, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kansas, and the Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Missouri
- Bob Searl—pastor, North Stuart Baptist Church, Stuart, Florida
CBF’s Reeves said he is immensely proud of the work of the task force.
“The resources previewed at General Assembly to be released soon thereafter, represent significant progress toward our goals,” Reeves said. “For this progress to be meaningful, the resources must be used in congregations. Churches must now honesty face the reality of abuse, watch the video together and consider the policy guidelines and craft policies that work for them.”
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.