Policy to prevent child abuse…

Having pastored two churches in the past where serious cases of child sexual abuse occurred — both prior to my tenure — I have become a stickler for the adoption and implementation of policies that serve to protect children from predatory parishioners and clergy.  In the earliest months of my tenure at Parkview Baptist Church in Arlington, TX, I led our congregation to implement a “Policy For The Prevention Of All Forms Of Abuse, Including But Not Limited To Sexual Abuse and Child Abuse.”

A team of church members drafted the policy with my direction, and the church voted to unanimously approve the policy.  Every person who works with children in our church has undergone a thorough background check, and our ministry staff is scrupulous to check sex offender databases regularly to familiarize ourselves with sex offenders who live in our immediate area.

Should you wish to read our policy, you can find it here.

I hope this helps others address the growing crisis of child abuse.

Southern Baptist pastors to address clergy sex abuse…

DALLAS, Tex. — April 12, 2007

In response to the recent exposure that the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has received concerning clergy sexual abuse, Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson of Enid’s Emmanuel Baptist Church and Texas pastor Benjamin Cole of Arlington’s Parkview Church intend to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to address the issue.

“Southern Baptists must be proactive when it comes to protecting children under our ministerial care. Our convention cannot retreat behind claims of ecclesiastic polity, and we are encouraged by SBC President Frank Page’s tough stance on clergy sexual abuse,” Cole said of his and Burleson’s initiative.

Burleson, a former convention president for the State of Oklahoma, intends to bring a motion to this summer’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio calling for “a feasibility study concerning the development of a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been convicted of sexual harrassment and abuse.” The motion will request that the Executive Committee of the national convention, headquartered in Nashville, TN, be charged with the responsibility to report its action at the next annual meeting in Indianapolis.

“There is no credible reason why Southern Baptist churches cannot look to our convention headquarters for assistance in scrutinizing candidates for ministry positions,” Burleson said. “What was once believed to consist of a few isolated cases has emerged as a more serious threat to our convention’s ministries and our churches’ health.”

Cole, the Texas pastor who has worked with Burleson over the past eighteen months to promote reform in the national convention, will introduce a resolution “On Clergy Sexual Abuse” for consideration at this year’s annual meeting.

Recognizing that “ministers are expected to maintain the highest standards of personal conduct as it relates to children,” the resolution reads, “Southern Baptists must spare no effort to preserve the integrity of our witness and the security of our children from the tragic consequence of our own potential neglect.”

In a related move, Alabama pastor C.B. Scott of Westmont Baptist Church in Birmingham will offer a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to “intentionally utilize the resources of our churches to rescue victimized children from abusive homes.”

Since beginning his pastorate in Alabama two years ago, Scott and his wife have taken in four children to their home, serving as foster parents for the two girls and two boys whose ages range from five to fourteen years of age.

“Jesus told his disciples that the worst kind of judgment was reserved for those who victimized children. Victimization occurs in two ways: one is by the abuser who harms kids, and the other is by the bystander who does nothing to stop it,” Scott said. “I’m going to do everything I can to stop it.”

In recent weeks, Southern Baptists have scrambled to respond to a rising number of its ministers who have been arrested for abusing children. The president of the national convention, Frank Page of Taylors, SC, issued a statement this month calling on “every local church to develop written policy guidelines for the care of children and youth . . . [and] to have a system or policy in place to deal with any accusations made.”

“Even one instance of sexual molestation is one too many,” Page added. “Jesus set the example in His deep love and care for the innocent, the young and the hurting. Let our churches be an example of Jesus’ ministry.”

The Southern Baptist Convention will meet June 12-13 in San Antonio, TX.

Copies of the Burleson motion and Cole Resolution follow:

Burleson Motion Regarding the Development of a Convention Database of Sexual Predators

“I move that the Southern Baptist Convention requests the Executive Committee to conduct a feasibility study concerning the development of a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been convicted of sexual harrassment and abuse, and that such a database be accessible to Southern Baptist churches seeking to maintain the highest standards of sexual ethics for its ministry candidates.”

Cole Resolution on Clergy Sexual Abuse

WHEREAS, the Lord Jesus Christ has instructed his church to exercise attentive care and prioritized concern for the well-being of children (Mark 10:14-16; Matthew 18:5-7), and

WHEREAS, millions of children are mistreated each year in the United States by those who have been entrusted by God to care for them, and

WHEREAS, God has designed the family and founded the church to be a place of safety and security for children to grow in a nurturing environment of spiritual wisdom and moral purity, and

WHEREAS, the Bible calls upon ministers — whether they are pastors, counselors, educators, missionaries, chaplains, or others — to preserve the witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ by maintaining the highest standards of personal conduct as it relates to children, and

WHEREAS, the tender consciences of little children are irreparably scarred by the negligence of Southern Baptist churches who fail to examine carefully the moral integrity and ethical history of ministry candidates, and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have not fully explored every option to protect our churches and our children from the threat of potential victimization and abuse at the hands of predatory clergy; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13, 2007, call upon our member churches to pursue every possible avenue in determining the moral character and ethical conduct of ministry candidates; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we urge our convention agencies, institutions, and commissions to take bold steps to educate Southern Baptists concerning the indications associated with and the reporting of child victimization; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we appeal to all churches dealing with the tragedy of negligent care for the interests of those abused by predatory clergy to address the growing crisis of child victimization by implementing ministries of pastoral care for victims of clergy abuse; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we pray for those who have been harmed physically, emotionally, and spiritually by ministers in our own convention who have violated their innocence through evil acts of sexual sin against them; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that we acknowledge the immediate need for our convention churches, agencies, institutions, and commissions to act with sincerity and urgency in this matter, sparing no effort to preserve the integrity of our witness and the security of our children from the tragic consequences of our potential neglect.