Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders Approve Plan to Fight Sexual Abuse

Bob Dean, of the Dallas Baptist Association, discusses a document drafted by the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) addressing sexual abuse in churches, during the group’s plenary session June 9 at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham, Ala. Photo by Marc Ira Hooks

The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) voted unanimously during their meeting, June 9, to approve broad recommendations to Southern Baptist associations, state conventions and churches about how to prevent the abuse of minors.

The document, entitled “Encouragements to Associations, State Conventions, and Churches Regarding the Prevention of Abuse of Minors” outlines a series of 10 recommendations around prevention/protection, awareness/education and ministry care/healing. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

“As you read through these recommendations, some of you — no doubt — are saying, ‘We’re already doing that.’ I applaud you for that,” said Kevin Carrothers, associational mission strategist (AMS) with the South Salem Baptist Association of Mt. Vernon, Ill. “You are on the proactive side so this serves as a reminder to you to continue to safeguard the vulnerable in your churches. For some of you, these are new. These are encouragements to you. That’s how we want you to take these. Not prescriptive, but certainly some areas for you to consider in your association but also in your churches.”

Carrothers led a three-member task force in drafting the document. According to the group’s executive director, Ray Gentry, this year’s 250-plus registrants marked the highest total in years.

The recommendations approved by SBCAL do not bind Southern Baptist associations but serve as a guide for associational mission strategists throughout the SBC. SBCAL leaders also described the document as a work in progress.

“It’s our heart that we’re going to certainly be responsive,” said David Stokes, the chairman of the group’s executive team and the executive director of the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists, based in Lexington.

“This is not us making a statement and saying we’re never going to talk about this again. This is the beginning of a path to address this.”

The associational leaders unanimously voted to amend the title of the previously released document, adding the words “the prevention of” to the title in order to emphasize the desire of SBCAL to provide proactive support on the issue.

For the full text of the statement, visit

Vision team report

The SBCAL also unanimously approved a series of recommendations designed to help associations implement components of the organization’s 2018 SBCAL Vision Report. The vision team organized into three sub-teams, tackling different areas of the report. The recommendations include:

— Developing “AMS Search Committee Guidelines” to help associations looking to hire a new associational mission strategist.

— Partnering with Church Multiplication Ministries to “provide coaching and coach training for associational leaders.”

— Developing a guide on “Associational Mission Strategist Succession Planning” to help associations create a leadership pipeline that includes training, mentoring and coaching for future leaders.

— Writing a series of 1,000-word essays to better define the proficiencies outlined in the 2018 SBCAL Vision Report. SBCAL leaders plan to expand these essays into full chapters that will be part of a book on effective associations to be published in 2020. A video training for each of the proficiencies is also being planned.

Changes to the SBCAL Constitution

The SBCAL also voted unanimously in Birmingham to amend its constitution in order to continue to transition toward a year-round operation. First, they voted to expand the definition of SBC entities represented on the executive team to include all entities that give at least $1,000 to the SBCAL budget.

Second, they voted to amend the constitution to change the conference planning team to the administrative team.

Third, the conference voted to change the title of SBCAL’s executive director to president/CEO.

The approved constitution also included a variety of minor edits made to update the legal language.

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Source: Baptist Press