Last week, Guidepost Solutions released their report on the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of reports of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches and ministries. You can read the full report here, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/6108172d83d55d3c9db4dd67/t/628bfccb599a375bece1f66c/1653341391218/Guidepost+Solutions+Independent+Investigation+Report_.pdf. The extensive report documents numerous failures in how the SBC Executive Committee responded to claims of sexual abuse and efforts to help Southern Baptist churches prevent sexual abuse and minister to survivors. The report names names and calls out specific examples of failures by commission and omission by members and staff of the SBC Executive Committee. It also provides some specific examples of failures of some Southern Baptist leaders in how they handled reports of sexual abuse in their ministries.
The report is well-written and appears to be well-researched. However, some of those named have responded with corrections to how the report characterized their actions. Roger (Sing) Oldham, a former Executive Vice President for the Executive Committee, who was named in the report, issued an extensive rebuke and correction of the report’s characterization of his role in addressing claims of sexual abuse. He stated, “I specifically deny being a knowing participant in creating an alleged secret database of sexual offenders. I did not know that such a list existed. I had no knowledge that my email forwards were being folded into a larger list of alleged sexual predators. I do not know the reason such a list would have been developed. I do not know the process used to create such a list. I did not have access to such a list.” You can read his full response to the Guidepost Solutions report of his involvement here, https://mbcpathway.com/2022/05/31/former-ec-vice-president/.
The MTSBC Executive Board issued their response to the report today. Their response recognizes that the report might have some specific details wrong, but that, overall, it points to problems that must be addressed in Southern Baptist life. The response includes this acknowledgement: “Likely, some of those named in the report would disagree with how it says they dealt with instances of abuse, but, even if the report misses the mark at some specific places, the cumulative effect of the information tells us that Southern Baptist leaders can do much better when it comes to addressing reports of sexual abuse and assisting those who have been abused.” The complete MTSBC Executive Board statement is provided below.
Statement by the Executive Board of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention regarding the Southern Baptist Convention’s Sexual Abuse Task Force Report
We have received the report of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force with profound grief. The report describes a lack of the gentleness of wisdom urged upon the church by the Holy Spirit through James the Apostle, James 3:15. It has brought into the light sinful, worldly, unspiritual, and demonic acts that must grieve the heart of God. We are heartbroken for the women and girls, men and boys who have been violated. We are especially grieved that some who claim to be God-called, spiritual leaders have either committed these acts or responded to reports of abuse with callous resistance.
Likely, some of those named in the report would disagree with how it says they dealt with instances of abuse, but, even if the report misses the mark at some specific places, the cumulative effect of the information tells us that Southern Baptist leaders can do much better when it comes to addressing reports of sexual abuse and assisting those who have been abused. We pledge our steadfast commitment to assist our churches in putting needed safeguards in place that will help prevent sexual abuse. We further commit to multiply our resolve to treat any reported sexual abuse in our churches with sensitivity toward and respect for those who have been abused. To that end, we will begin meeting in the coming weeks to discuss how to implement the many excellent recommendations in the Task Force report so that we can take meaningful steps to protect the men, women, and children we serve and to care well for those in our ministries who have been abused.
We pray that those scarred by sexual abuse will experience God’s healing grace and the church’s healing support. We trust that the SBC Executive Committee will give diligent consideration to the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force, as we do the same on behalf of our affiliated Montana Southern Baptist Convention churches.
May the Lord find us faithful.
The Guidestone Solutions report includes some very good recommendations for the SBC Executive Committee to improve its service to our churches in this area. You’ll find those starting on page 259. There is also a helpful section on the work of the newly-restructured SBC Credentials Committee. That committee’s responsibilities have changed a lot! You can read the Task Force‘s assessment of the committee’s work and its recommendations for improving its work beginning on page 193.
The MTSBC Executive Board and staff are deeply concerned and heartbroken over the instances of sexual abuse occurring in Southern Baptist life. The board’s response includes a commitment to begin quickly to assess how we’re doing as a state convention and individual churches in preventing sexual abuse and caring for survivors of sexual abuse. We will also begin developing a resource section at our website for churches to use to help prevent sexual abuse and to know how to respond with resolve toward abusers and compassion for survivors. In the meantime, you can find many helpful resources at the SBC’s Executive Committee website, https://www.sbc.net/resources/resources-on-sex-abuse/, and the website of the Sexual Abuse Task Force, https://www.sataskforce.net/downloads-1.
If you are being sexually abused or become aware of sexual abuse in your church, the SBC Executive Committee has provided a hotline to call to report it. You can reach the hotline at 202-864-5578 or SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com. We trust there is no sexual abuse occurring in any of our member churches, but, if there is, we want to know about it and help in any way we can to hold abusers accountable and help survivors heal.
Please be praying for Pastor Caleb Groteluschen, of Capstone Church in Helena. Caleb is our MTSBC representative on the SBC Executive Committee. I appreciate his serious commitment to helping Southern Baptists during this defining time. May the Lord bless our Montana Southern Baptist churches as we lift the name of Jesus and point the way to salvation and holiness.