I can’t think of any topic that will dominate the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham moreso than sex abuse. While the SBC is meeting in Birmingham, sex abuse victim advocates and victims will hold a rally. This is the ForSuchATimeAsThisRally. It will be held outside the convention center on Tuesday, June 11, from 5 to 6:45 pm.
Stated goals include:
- Women should be respected and honored within the SBC. The low view of women has contributed to an abuse-empowering church culture.
- A clergy abuse database must be established documenting confessed, convicted or credibly accused abusers.
- Mandatory training for pastors, seminary students and ministry leaders on the issues of sexual abuse, domestic abuse and sexual assault.
The rally is not an official SBC event. They have a website, here (and T-shirts are available).
Listed speakers include:
Christa Brown, long-time SBC abuse activist and creator of Stop Baptist Predators blog
David Clohessy, SNAP
Ashley Easter, Writer, Abuse-victim advocate and creator of The Courage Conference
Brooks Hansen, SBC abuse survivor and advocate
Jules Woodson, SBC abuse survivor and advocate
Dwight McKissic, Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Arlington, TX
Carolyn Deevers, former spouse of clergy sexual predator and abuse victim advocate
Cheryl Summers, Founder of For Such A Time As This Rally
Many of these have been involved in this business for a long time, particularly Christa Brown and David Clohessy. Dwight McKissick most of us know.
One might note that the logo they designed is stained glass. Can’t imagine why.
On their stated goals:
- I’m not certain what concrete actions are sought on this.
- This has been demanded, and discussed here and elsewhere for a long time. I expect some motions or resolutions will be made a the convention along these lines. Databases are linked at many SBC sites for convicted abusers but these do not include “confessed” or “credibly accused” individuals. The ERLC, reporting for the SBC Sex Abuse Advisory Group says that there will be no “updates” on J. D. Greear’s call for the convention to “explore possibilities related to the database solution.” While this doesn’t prevent SBC messengers from action, I don’t see anything possible aside from additional calls, perhaps a resolution, for the database solution to be seriously examined. The SBC cannot create such a thing from the floor of the annual meeting. A motion to do so would almost certainly be ruled out of order for directing entities. More on this in a separate article.
- I believe all of the seminaries require mandatory training on sex abuse but don’t think such training covers domestic abuse and sexual assault. Candidates for appointment with our mission boards have similar requirements. I am unaware of any broadly applied mandatory training for “ministry leaders.” Many churches require training for sex abuse for all of their staff and workers.
It is expected that the reality of our polity will determine actions. Local churches make their staff and volunteer decisions independent of any association, state convention, and national SBC body. This practice and will doubtless be front and center at the rally.
One would expect some pointed things to be said at the rally but then there have been some very ugly, deplorable, criminal, and sinful things happening in SBC churches in regard to abuse of children.
My suggestions for SBCers concerning the rally:
- Skip an artery clogging supper and stop by to listen to the speakers.
- Smile and take the material offered. I expect that rally attendees and supporters will be distributing material.
- Be kind.