June 19, 2019
By Tobin Perry
The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) voted unanimously during their meeting, June 9, to approve broad recommendations to Southern Baptist associations, state conventions and churches about how to prevent the abuse of minors.
The document, entitled “Encouragements to Associations, State Conventions, and Churches Regarding the Prevention of Abuse of Minors” outlines a series of 10 recommendations around prevention/protection, awareness/education and ministry care/healing. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
“As you read through these recommendations, some of you – no doubt – are saying, ‘We’re already doing that.’ I applaud you for that,” said Kevin Carrothers, associational mission strategist (AMS) with the South Salem Baptist Association of Mt. Vernon, Ill. “You are on the proactive side so this serves as a reminder to you to continue to safeguard the vulnerable in your churches. For some of you, these are new. These are encouragements to you. That’s how we want you to take these. Not prescriptive, but certainly some areas for you to consider in your association but also in your churches.”
Carrothers led a three-member task force in drafting the document. According to the group’s executive director, Ray Gentry, this year’s 250-plus registrants marked the highest total in years.
The recommendations approved by SBCAL do not bind Southern Baptist associations but serve as a guide for associational mission strategists throughout the SBC. SBCAL leaders also described the document as a work in progress.
“It’s our heart that we’re going to certainly be responsive,” said David Stokes, the chairman of the group’s executive team and the executive director of the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists, based in Lexington.
“This is not us making a statement and saying we’re never going to talk about this again. This is the beginning of a path to address this.”
The associational leaders unanimously voted to amend the title of the previously released document, adding the words “the prevention of” to the title in order to emphasize the desire of SBCAL to provide proactive support on the issue.
For the full text of the statement, visit sbcassociations.org/vote.
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