JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A New report claims that Southern Baptist Convention leaders mishandled sexual abuse allegations for nearly two decades. The independent inquiry was commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention last year.
the document was released on Sunday and suggests members of the convention’s executive committee obstructed and intimidated victims after they came forward with allegations of abuse.
Many questions are now being formed about how to prevent future abuse and better respond to new allegations. So we went straight to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board to hear their reaction and find out what current protocols, if any, exist.
“I think accountability is, is going to be the healthiest thing for us,” explained Dr. Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. “Obviously, I’m afraid it will confuse people in their perception of Southern Baptists and, more importantly, the Christian church. And I would hate if it did. I would certainly understand that there would be disappointment and frustration, and maybe even the development of some cynicism about it. But I would be, I would be disappointed to see it become such a hindrance to people’s health and spiritual growth that they don’t turn more to the church for spiritual guidance.
So what is the current structure for reporting allegations of abuse? To begin, you need to understand the Baptist governance structure.
“The Baptist churches are all self-governing, which means they have a cooperative relationship with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention,” Parker described. “But it’s not a hierarchical relationship. We do not monitor them. They are not responsible to us. They are autonomous. So when such an incident occurs, there is no mandate for them to report it to the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
We reached out to Gore Springs Baptist Church pastor Eric Sherwood, who filed a petition at the 2021 state convention annual meeting to create a state-level sexual abuse task force. State. It failed.
“The SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force report is a shocking and necessary indictment of the behavior of some of our SBC leaders over the past two decades. The motion we put forward was an effort to be proactive in educating local church pastors in Mississippi about the reality of sexual abuse and equipping them to respond with trauma-informed sensitivity to potential SA disclosures in their churches. . I was of course saddened that it did not pass, but I have been greatly encouraged over the past year by the commitment and cooperation of the leaders of the MS Baptist Convention Board, especially Dr. Parker , to take this issue seriously and act accordingly. the spirit of the motion. Now is the time for all Southern Baptists to repent and humble themselves and then take action to care for the survivors and ensure these sinful acts do not continue,” Pastor Sherwood said.
Parker says that over the past nine months they have taken state-level action, including a review of reporting procedures and protocols, and increased efforts to provide churches with training to identify predators/prevent sexual abuse/care for survivors. Currently, they encourage churches to review sex offender registries before hiring, but be aware that this does not cover cases of credible allegations not related to an indictment.
“I think there is a way for us to manage our church policy, and at the same time develop a mechanism to register credible allegations, and then make sure churches have access to them. Honestly, to At this point, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to pan out, but we’re working, and we will be working diligently on this,” Dr Parker said.
One of the examples in the report is of a Texas pastor who allegedly allowed an accused molester of young boys to be quietly fired in 1989. He did not report the abuse to police. The man, John Langworthy, was later charged with abusing young boys here in Mississippi in 2011. A sex offender registry check shows he has since died.
To see the full statement released by Dr. Shawn Parker, click HERE.
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