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USSouthern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse

04:10  12 june  2019
04:10  12 june  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Southern Baptist Church addresses sexual abuse at annual convention

Southern Baptist Church addresses sexual abuse at annual convention A recent investigation found more than 700 people have been sexually assaulted over the past 20 years

Southern Baptists begin addressing sexual abuse , advance bylaw changes Monday. The Southern Baptist Convention can already expel a church over sexual abuse but new steps could make it easier to formally address abuse in congregations.

Addressing sexual abuse will also be a primary theme of the annual convention of thousands of Southern Baptist pastors in Birmingham, Ala In addition, he raised the possibility that churches could be expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention for their actions and handling of the cases.

Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Southern Baptists, who make up the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, took their biggest steps yet in ongoing efforts to curb sexual abuse since the crisis stormed into the network of churches’ collective conscious more than a year ago.

Sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches expected as major topic at annual meeting

Sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches expected as major topic at annual meeting Southern Baptists may enact changes to hold churches accountable and keep people in their pews safe at a June meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one There seems to be a growing sense of vulnerability and a willingness to address this crisis.” Activist and writer Christa Brown, who says she was abused by a Southern Baptist minister as a child, has been

An investigation found more than 380 allegations of sexual misconduct by Southern Baptist church leaders over two decades. USA TODAY.

Thousands of Southern Baptist Convention delegates voted Tuesday to create a new committee that will handle misconduct allegations against Southern Baptist churches.

It took changing the convention's bylaws during the big annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, to create the new standing credentials committee. The successful vote was met with cheers and applause on Tuesday inside the arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

And so was the delegates' decision to change another of the convention's core governing documents.

The voting representatives from the more than 47,000 Southern Baptist churches passed constitutional amendments that make clear that addressing sexual abuse and discrimination based on ethnicity are part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist church. Unlike the bylaw change, constitutional amendments require votes at two consecutive annual meetings.

Southern Baptists are supposed to talk about sexual abuse. But right now they’re discussing whether one woman can preach.

Southern Baptists are supposed to talk about sexual abuse. But right now they’re discussing whether one woman can preach. Ahead of their meeting next week, Southern Baptists were planning to take on sex abuse, but the question of women’s roles threatens to overshadow the issue.

The harsh imagery is meant to remind Southern Baptists of how critical the issue of sexual abuse is, according to Rev. For many delegates and onlookers, the priority on this year’s agenda is voting on key reforms aimed at holding member churches accountable for mishandling abuse allegations.

Sex abuse already was a high-profile issue at the 2018 national meeting in Dallas, following revelations about several sexual misconduct cases. For example, a nine-member team has been developing a training curriculum to be used by churches and seminaries to improve responses to abuse .

Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse© Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal A panel discussion on sexual abuse at the annual convention of the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 10, 2019.

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The changes make it explicitly clear churches can get expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention over issues of sexual abuse.

Top Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd praised the moves that happened just before the close of the first day of the annual meeting.

"I believe that this is a very, very significant moment in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention," said Floyd, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. "May this world know that the Southern Baptist Convention stands against all forms of sexual abuse."

The sexual abuse crisis is dominating discussions as thousands of Southern Baptists gathered in Birmingham. The two-day annual meeting wraps up Wednesday.

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SBC churches are united only by “friendly cooperation with and contributing to the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention,” he noted. The 52-page document includes testimonies from survivors of abuse by SBC leaders, as well as recommended protocols for the handling of abuse allegations

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one There seems to be a growing sense of vulnerability and a willingness to address this crisis." Activist and writer Christa Brown, who says she was abused by a Southern Baptist minister as a child, has been

Grappling with sexual abuse; critics say more changes needed

This is the second year in a row that Southern Baptists have grappled with sexual abuse in the church at their annual meeting.

Soon after North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear was elected convention president at the 2018 meeting, he launched a sexual abuse advisory group to figure out how Southern Baptists can better respond to incidents and prevent abuse. Some of the groups work has already been implemented.

Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse© Jon Shapley, AP J.D. Greear, from left, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, and Mike Stone, chairman of the Executive Committee, pray during an Executive Committee plenary meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday, June 10, 2019, in Birmingham, Ala. ( Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Many inside and outside Southern Baptist life were waiting for the convention to act given recent revelations showing how widespread the problem is in their churches and on the mission field.

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this week, with the addressing of clergy sex abuse scandals high on their list of priorities, another religious group will convene to discuss the same issue, from of the Southern Baptist Convention will discuss policies, such as the expelling of churches that fail to report abuse , for handling sex abuse

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting with one sobering topic Outside the convention center, abuse survivors and other activists plan a protest rally Tuesday It contained several first-person stories by sexual abuse survivors, and acknowledged a variety of

In February, the pressure for Southern Baptists to address sexual abuse in the church intensified.

A report from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found sexual misconduct allegations against hundreds of Southern Baptists who held formal church roles. Many were convicted of sex crimes and some are still in prison, but others continued to work in churches, according to their report.

Critics have accused Southern Baptists of not moving fast enough and using their church structure, which prioritizes local-church control, as an excuse not to act.

'Basically, it's just been talk': Sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches expected as major topic at annual meeting

Outside the convention complex on Tuesday, abuse survivors who were participating in the "For Such A Time As This Rally" had harsh words for the Southern Baptist Convention despite the changes.

Kenny Stubblefield, who was abused as a 16-year-old at a Southern Baptist church in Memphis, said everything the convention does is essentially a suggestion.

"All the bylaws, all the resolutions, all the weeping and gnashing of teeth can happen, but it really doesn’t mean much," he said. "When things like this happen there’s going to be a flag of autonomy waved. It’s very convenient."

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(AP) – The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one There seems to be a growing sense of vulnerability and a willingness to address this crisis.” Activist and writer Christa Brown, who says she was abused by a Southern Baptist minister as a child, has

Sex abuse already was a high-profile issue at the 2018 national meeting in Dallas, following revelations about several sexual misconduct cases. Several male Southern Baptist pastors have aligned themselves with activist women in decrying sex abuse and limits on women's leadership roles.

The group hosting the rally has been calling for the convention to act since the 2018 meeting. Some of changes they want include the establishment of a clergy sex offender database.

Stubblefield said he believes the solution doesn’t lie within the Southern Baptist Convention.

"My message to people that are within SBC churches that are 15- 16- 17-years-old like I was when my abuse happened, my suggestion and hope is that you hear what’s going on, that you get out before you get hurt," he said.

Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse© Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal A panel discussion on sexual abuse was held at the annual convention of the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 10, 2019.

Changes make clear consequences for not acting

Mechanisms to sever ties with churches indifferent to sexual abuse and racial discrimination already existed in the Southern Baptist Convention, but Southern Baptists wanted that explicitly spelled out in their constitution.

The constitutional amendments passed Tuesday will be taken up again when Southern Baptists meet next year in Orlando, Florida.

The bylaw change creating the new committee goes into effect immediately.

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The standing panel will conduct inquires – not investigations – when questions arise about whether churches are acting in accordance with Southern Baptist beliefs.

The new credentials committee will make recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee on whether an offending church should be kicked out of the convention. The executive committee will still make the decision on disfellowshipping a church.

Abuse of Faith: Southern Baptist churches harbored sex offenders

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He expressed frustration at Southern Baptist priorities: The church leadership would expel a church that appointed a woman as senior pastor, even as it accepted sexual After The Chronicle’s investigation, the Southern Baptists have promised greater training and more background checks

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one It contained several first-person stories by sexual abuse survivors, and acknowledged a variety of Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says SBC leaders will not soften the

Prior to the creation of the new committee, it was the executive committee and its bylaws work group that assessed whether the convention should be in fellowship with a particular church.

But it also was the executive committee, which acts on behalf of the convention when it's not in session, that suggested both the new committee and the constitutional changes.

The top administrative panel voted Monday in Birmingham to recommend the messengers,who are the voting representatives, make the changes to the convention’s major governing documents.

Floyd, who was named president of the executive committee in April, used a portion of his Tuesday morning report to show strong support for the changes.

Change at the local level: What can Southern Baptists do after sex-crime reports? Here are some ideas

"The two constitutional amendments should be seen as two declarative statements and pronouncements that will be etched clearly and definitively into our historic governing documents," Floyd said. "Do not minimize the value of these statements and what they will bring."

He also shared his support for the change to the bylaws, too.

"The Southern Baptist Convention does stand against all forms and actions of sexual abuse viewing it as a horrific evil," Floyd said. "As Southern Baptists, we must address this comprehensively and correctly. Unquestionably and undoubtedly, we must make a clear compassionate, convictional and compelling statement about this issues in every way we can."

Contributing: Katherine Burgess, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal

Follow Holly Meyer on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.

Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse
Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Southern Baptists approve changes aimed at expelling churches that don't address sexual abuse

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