Local Church Adds More Accountability

By Gerran Thomas
June 30, 2008

[with video]

Local Church Adds More Accountability

Reported sex scandals involving religious figures have led some people to be skeptical of trusting church leaders. That's why one area church is adding extra layers of accountability.

First Baptist Church in Paducah sent out a letter to its members addressing measures it's taking to prevent sexual impropriety. The letter is in two parts; the first from the pastor to the members, the second part is a joint statement from all the church leaders that talks about sexual accountability and specific measures they're taking.

"We put this in writing," Pastor Todd Brady said. "We put it in black and white because we wanted this statement to stand as a testimony against ourselves, if you will."

Brady doesn't usually bring up the subject of sex during Sunday services, but yesterday was different. Recent scandals like the case of a Texas pastor, arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from an underage girl, have planted doubts about the integrity of church leaders. That's why Brady sent out a letter to his members spelling out a plan of accountability that he hoped would help earn their trust.

"One misstep in the area of sexuality can completely cut off the voice that we have to folks," Brady said.

The goal of the letter is to reassure church members that things like supervised counseling, internet monitoring software, and large windows will create a safer atmosphere.

The letter highlights the danger of sexual temptation and shows how pastors will be accountable like using an online tracking system for all of the pastors' internet use.

Kelley Banks is a member at First Baptist Church. The mother of three small boys found the letter comforting.

"I see it as not just being just as a defense but being on guard, going out there and preparing ourselves," Banks said.

In the letter Pastor Brady says after the Texas incident, "shivers went down my spine." He hopes by being proactive he can prevent even the suspicion of misconduct.

"In some ways we are held to a higher standard," Brady says.

The reaction to the letter has been overwhelmingly positive. One member says she likes this approach better than waiting until something happens.

And the letter could have a wider impact. The Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee have already shown interest in possibly using this letter as a model for other churches across the state and maybe even across the country.


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