Spiritual Leaders Hear Sobering Word about Child Sexual Abuse Within Church
By Michael J. Brooks
The Alabama Baptist
December 6, 2017
Research suggests at least 60 million Americans are survivors of sexual abuse.
Concerned churches must be proactive in protecting children in their care from predators.
That was the message of the MinistrySafe Conference held at Canaan Baptist Church, Bessemer, on Sept. 19. The event was jointly sponsored by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) and GuideStone Financial Resources.
Greg Love, an attorney and a minister, served as presenter at the conference. Love and his wife, Kimberlee Norris, are co-founders of MinistrySafe and Abuse Prevention Systems of Fort Worth, Texas.
An estimated 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys under age 18 will be sexually abused, Love said. As a place where children are invited and welcomed, churches often attract predators.
Abusers most often go where the barriers are the lowest, Love explained.
“The Church is welcoming and affirming,” he said, “and we’re overjoyed when new people come and volunteer to work with children and youth. The abuser tries to gain the trust of leaders or what I call the ‘gatekeepers.’ They convince us they’re helpful, trustworthy and kind. Then they proceed to gain the trust of our children. This is called ‘grooming,’ and it’s a significant mark of the abuser.”