For nearly two decades survivors of abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention have brought accusations to the Executive Committee regarding sexual abuse of women and children in SBC churches nationwide. The Executive Committee has failed to address these real and illegal activities among some pastors and staff of SBC churches and ministries. Until recently these accusations and allegations have largely been disregarded, swept under the carpet, and ignored. At the 2021 SBC National Gathering these voices were finally heard as the Messengers from over 5500 SBC churches overwhelmingly approved a motion calling for an outside third party task force to investigate the allegations of mishandling abuse claims at the SBC Executive Committee level. Guidepost Solutions was the firm selected to conduct this independent investigation.
Two weeks ago (May 22, 2022), the report was published and released publicly, and the contents of this investigation are concerning and appalling to say the least. The report is damning regarding information about how sexual abuse cases have been handled at the SBC’s top coordinating entity for decades. According to the report “over the years survivors were either ignored, put off by invocations of ‘polity,’ denigrated as ‘opportunists,’ or worse. The survivors perceived the totality of these actions as a pattern of intimidation. Moreover, this poor treatment likely had a chilling effect on other survivors coming forward to report abuse.” I cannot fully convey all the contents of this investigation, but the 288-page report can be viewed and read online by searching SBC Guidepost Investigation report.
Personally, I am disgusted by the actions or lack thereof by the Executive Committee. It is NEVER acceptable for anyone in leadership to disregard an allegation of Sexual Abuse in any circumstance. It is even less acceptable to shame or denigrate someone as an opportunist or sweep something under the rug to protect an entity or person. I am saddened by the number of individuals who were sexually abused. My heart goes out to them, even if I do not know them personally. I am also sickened by the number of sexual predators in pulpits. I want to boldly and loudly proclaim that I wholeheartedly condemn sexual abuse or general abuse in any form to any person… in the pulpit or out of the pulpit. I also condemn the actions of the Executive Committee as they chose to protect the entity (SBC) and themselves over doing the right thing.
To the best of my knowledge there have been no public cases of sexual abuse that have been ignored or swept under the rug in the history of Southside. If there has been, I am unaware and I would like to know so we may address it properly. I want to assure you that I/have a zero tolerance for any kind of abuse. If any allegation of abuse is brought to my attention, we will deal with the allegation in a proper manner. I take the calling of being the shepherd of this congregation VERY seriously and one of the main jobs of a shepherd is to protect this flock. I love you all and I promise to do whatever I can in my power to ensure that if have been a victim of sexual abuse that you have a voice and that you have a place where you can worship God freely and without fear.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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