Southern Baptist Convention addresses sexual abuse crisis

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Local pastors react to steps taken by the Southern Baptist Convention to address sexual abuse in the church. 

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for sex abuse within the church during this year’s conference.

Delegates voted to create a new committee to handle misconduct allegations, but some feel the church still isn’t committed to a tough anti-abuse approach. 

Pastors at Southeastern Baptist Church in Johnson City attended the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, AL where they spoke about the sexual assault cases within the church. 

Southwestern Baptist Church is taking extra precautions to prevent cases like these form happening in their own church. 

“What really began the whole process of the sexual abuse issues in the Southern Baptist Convention was a newspaper article by the Huston chronicle that came out in January,” said Pastor Greg Salyer.

The article gave the details of the 380 instances of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention within the past 20 years. 

The issue is a hot topic at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention. 

Pastor Davis Holtsclaw says he didn’t know how big the issue was within the convention until this years conference. 

“I’ve spent seventeen and a half years in law enforcement. So that kind of issue is something I didn’t realize was in the church. We’ve got to ensure that the safety of our folks. I feel like God wants us to be wise whenever it comes to decisions like this. We really need to be aware of and be educated about the situation is where we have to start to try and correct it.” said Holtsclaw.

Salyer says his church has rules set in place so these issues are less likely to happen. 

That includes background checks required for anyone in the church working with minors. 

“Some churches do not have any type of policy. Realistically we knew there was something happening. The Roman Catholic Church is not the only ones who have this problem. Even one abuse victim is one too many. There are people who find their way into those types of positions that have no business being there,” said Salyer. 

The Conference has formed a committee called the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to work through the year to prevent sexual assault cases. The committee forming a curriculum for churches to implement for abuse victims and churches to deal with these types of situations. 

The Southern Baptist Convention also voted on regulations within the church on how to deal with sexual assault. Actions including taking away church memberships of people accused of the crime. 

The church must vote on these regulations two consecutive years in a row for them to be implemented. 

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