Kentucky Today [Louisville KY]
September 12, 2022
By Chip Hutcheson
The Kentucky Baptist Convention is urging churches and associations to take advantage of training that will be offered in early October to address the issue of sexual abuse.
Todd Gray, KBC’s executive director-treasurer, stressed the need for churches to be prepared to prevent sexual abuse situations, as well as churches being prepared to properly handle any accusation of sexual abuse.
“We must act to protect our children from the devastating consequences of sexual abuse,” Gray said. In addition, he said churches will be trained on how to respond if a sexual abuse allegation is made. “This training is important for churches — at last year’s Annual Meeting the messengers voted for KBC to establish a sexual abuse task force to address this important topic in our state. This training will be a tremendous service to Kentucky Baptists.”
“Sexual abusers will seek access to children where protective barriers are low — and often that is in our churches,” said Lawrence Smith, KBC communications director. He said the training sessions will inform churches how to raise barriers to sexual abuse.
KBC representatives noted that criminal background checks alone are not an effective safety system.
Free training sessions will be offered at these locations:
• Oct. 3: Lone Oak First Baptist Church, Paducah
• Oct. 4: Living Hope Baptist Church, Bowling Green
• Oct. 5: Buck Run Baptist Church, Frankfort
• Oct. 6: Fairview Baptist Church, Ashland
Sara Robinson, KBC’s women’s ministry and transition consultant, said the training by MinistrySafe will focus on five areas.
• Protecting children against predators.
• Making your church be more attractive for guests by protecting children.
• Having a ready response plan when an instance or allegation occurs.
• Understanding the impact of sexual abuse on survivors, even if the abuse if not church-related.
• Implementing a plan to care for survivors in the local church setting.
“The Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) of the Kentucky Baptist Convention has worked diligently to find the right provider for Kentucky Baptists,” Robinson said.
“MinistrySafe is the national leader in sexual abuse prevention and response in ministry settings. Not only does it understand the legal aspects of prevention and response, it reflects the heart of Christ in its work with churches.
“Attorney Greg Love is the lead attorney for MinistrySafe and is an expert in sexual abuse prevention and response strategies,” Robinson said. “Dr. James Reeves, founding pastor of City on a Hill Church, Ft. Worth, will lead the survivor care portions of training. His expertise in survivor care will prompt ministry leaders to re-examine current practices and consider new opportunities for ministry.”
Robinson noted the importance of churches protecting children and congregations from sexual abuse. “Studies show sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions — nearly 60 million survivors are alive in the United States alone,” Robinson said. “Sexual abuse does not discriminate. Nearly one out of five Americans is a victim of sexual abuse, according to MinistrySafe.”
She added, “Not only should we ensure our churches are safe places for worship, we must care for those in our midst who are survivors of this horrific abuse by providing neighborly love, godly care, opportunities to talk about abuse in light of the gospel and connections to trauma-informed, biblical counselors.”
To register, go to https://www.kybaptist.org/churchprepared/.