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Thursday
Jun132013

Southern Baptist Convention Passes Resolutions on Sex Abuse and Affiliations with Groups Like Sovereign Grace Ministries

Peter Lumpkins is a Southern Baptist pastor in the 13 million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).  He is also a noted blogger.  Mr. Lumpkins has been closely following and writing about the sex abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace Ministries since October 2012.  

This week at the SBC annual meeting, he succeeded in getting an important resolution passed regarding sex abuse and unhealthy liaisons with “groups and/or individuals.”  He had Sovereign Grace Ministries and C.J. Mahaney primarily in mind.    

Mr. Lumpkins is to be commended for his hard work and courageous stand.  He is calling noted SBC leaders like Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Danny Akin to account for their unqualified support of C.J. even though he is a central figure in the alleged conspiracy to cover up extensive criminal activity.     

In his personal comments, Mr. Lumpkins asks SBC leaders to “monitor closely the individuals and/or organizations affiliated with us via our denominational leadership. We are convinced that there presently exists unhealthy liaisons which need to be addressed (see also here and here).”  The links he provides concern C.J. and SGM. 

The same concerns are found in the amendment Mr. Lumpkins put forward.  It passed overwhelmingly and was added to the other resolutions. 

“RESOLVED: that we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally” 

I am closely monitoring developments related to the sex abuse scandal.  It is far worse than I could ever have imagined.  That is not empty rhetoric.  Any evangelical leader supporting C.J. should remove his support immediately or prepare to suffer a grave loss of credibility. 

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Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children adopted with amendment
June 12, 2013
Peter Lumpkins 

http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/abuse/

Below is the vetted version of the resolution on sexual abuse of children I originally proposed.  In [bold] text is an amendment I offered reinserting what I felt was a valid concern toward convention leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention and their relationships with organizations and/or individuals with disturbing policies and practices in protecting our children. 

How timely for Southern Baptists to not only endorse a statement strongly encouraging pastors and churches to openly and forthrightly handle abusive situations with children, thus demonstrating that protecting our children is of utmost importance to us, but also sending a strong message to denominational leadership to employ the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with either organizations or individuals that possess morally questionable policies or practices in protecting children from abusive situations. 

Consequently, we encourage trustees of all our entities and agencies to pay careful attention to the point of reference the resolution on sexual abuse of children constitutes and to monitor closely the individuals and/or organizations affiliated with us via our denominational leadership. We are convinced that there presently exists unhealthy liaisons which need to be addressed (see also here and here). 

Finally, I possess no intentions of leaving this issue behind. While the resolution on the sexual abuse of children is a good start, it remains a poor ending. Given our Baptist polity, we fully understand no resolution may usurp the local church autonomy we hold dear.  However, I personally plan to explore ways we may be able to adequately and legitimately address the issue with strong policies and procedures which protect children while retaining our rightful Baptist heritage of local church autonomy.  May we pray to that end. Our children areworth it! 

[Here is the SBC statement of resolutions.]

ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN 

WHEREAS, The Bible is clear in its affirmation that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3–5); and 

WHEREAS, The Lord Jesus demonstrated His love for children by encouraging them to follow Him, correcting those who hindered them, and condemning those who harmed them (Matthew 18:3–6; Mark 10:13–14); and

WHEREAS, The sexual abuse of children remains an ever increasing criminal offense with more than 1.8 million reported victims of sexual abuse by more than 750,000 child abuse perpetrators identified in the United States alone; and

WHEREAS, Tragically, instances of sexual abuse have been perpetrated within Southern Baptist congregations, churches of other denominations, and other Christian ministries; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11–12, 2013, call upon Southern Baptists to stand with our Lord Jesus in loving and protecting children as He does; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we likewise call upon all Southern Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That we strongly urge Southern Baptist churches to utilize background checks like those provided through LifeWay Christian Resources (www.lifeway.com/backgroundchecks), databases of sexual predators such as the US Department of Justice sex offender database linked at SBC.net (www.SBC.net/localchurches/ministryhelp.asp), or other relevant resources in screening all potential staff and volunteer workers, particularly those who minister to children and youth; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors and church leaders to develop and implement sound policies and procedures to protect our children; and be it [further] 

“RESOLVED: that we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally”

RESOLVED, That we urge all Southern Baptists to pray for children who are victims of abuse, to stand for their protection from abuse, and to support safe and healthy children’s ministries in our churches and communities. 

As I indicated, the amendment overwhelmingly passed.  Here is a video Joe Donahue captured of my speaking to the motion to amend.  Included also is North Carolina pastor, Tim Rogers defending the motion to amend.  Thanks Joe for the video! 

Post Script

Pam Palmer 
Mother of Plaintiff Renee Palmer Gamby in Lawsuit Against SGM
June 13th, 2013 at 10:12 am 

I am glad that the Peter Lumpkin’s Resolution passed. (Thanks, Peter!) I am very glad the protection of kids from sex abuse in churches was being talked about and voted on at the Annual Convention of the 2nd largest Christian denomination. Our church congregations – the leaders and members – need to hash out the details, though, on the issues related to sex abuse in our churches. One non-binding resolution, while a promising start, is NOT the END of the problems that we face. The “devil is in the details”!

I look forward to the day, when it will be standard practice in all churches to adopt the SNAP recommendations on how to handle sex abuse in your church: http://www.snapnetwork.org/what_to_do_when_your_priest_is_accused_of_abuse
(just substitute “pastor” or “church member” for “priest” — this list is great!) 

SNAP has 25 years of experience dealing with this issue. SBC Pastors, you would give more “meat” to your Resolution, if you sought out their wise counsel on this topic!! I look forward to the day when congregations everywhere would host G.R.A.C.E. conferences to educate their church families and leaders on how to handle sex abuse. Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V2QMfy27AE 

I see the passing of this Resolution as a watershed moment.  The grassroots movement of survivors of sex abuse, largely ignored by church leaders, is not going away!  In fact it is growing.  Awareness of sex abuse cover-up in churches is on the rise and I firmly believe, that the heart of God is to protect kids and that He is the One who is bringing this hidden evil to the forefront of the Evangelical church.  We would all do well to listen to Him!  Let’s bring sex abuse out of the church closet — deal with it, have a real, open, written plan and stop the cycle of hidden abuse.  Let’s help the multitude of survivors of sex abuse in our churches heal.  I encourage everyone reading here to go back to your church family and make sure an appropriate written policy is implemented. 

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