New task force to prevent abuse within Southern Baptist Convention
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - New changes are in progress for the Southern Baptist Convention after an independent investigation accused several pastors and church leaders of sexual abuse.
The SBC has formed a Sexual Abuse Taskforce, composed of nine people, that will develop recommendations to prevent abuse within the Southern Baptist churches.
Bart Barber was recently elected President of the SBC during their annual convention. Barber is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville in Farmersville.
“It’s sinful, it’s illegal, it’s repugnant, and we do feel strongly about it. How could we not?” said Bart Barber during a sit-down interview with WSMV’s Danielle Jackson.
Barber says their plan for forming this task came after several pastors, some of whom were a part of churches in Middle Tennesse, were accused of sexual abuse over a two-decade span.
“We have this huge messenger meeting with ten thousand representatives from churches come and vote on various proposals, and so, this taskforce will develop recommendations to help us prevent and respond well to sexual abuse in churches, and those recommendations will go to the messengers for their consideration and for their vote,” said Barber.
Some of those recommendations include developing an educational tool kit and creating checks and balances ministry website.
“We already had approval by the messengers for the creation of a ministry check website. So, churches can effectively share information with one another about people who have been incredibly abused in the past in a church context, and that will make it much more difficult since we’re a network of autonomous churches really and can’t be compelled to do anything the local churches have to make up their own minds. We can make sure they are well-informed,” said Barber.
The recommendations will be presented to the messengers - the people representing the churches during their annual convention. Then, it will be up to them if they implement the changes.
“We’re not just trying to win a vote. We’re not just looking for a 50 percent plus one. We’re looking to build a consensus in the Southern Baptist Convention around common-sense reforms and best practices that helps us to eliminate clergy sexual abuse in the SBC,” said Barber.
The Southern Baptist Convention created a hotline for survivors and those who need to report sexual abuse. The hotline number is 202-864-5578, or you can email SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com.
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