This resource was first presented to the May 16-17 meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions trustees and Executive Committee. It is posted here for the information of all Alabama Baptist churches.
Your Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) is continuing to work diligently to help churches to be safer places for all people. The SBOM has a task force that is seeking to provide the best resources possible to assist churches. A recent blog article on RickLance.com focused on these efforts – helping churches reduce the risk of child sexual abuse, responding to victims of abuse appropriately while respecting our values.
Reducing the Risk
We are partnering with MinistrySafe – the leading-edge ministry in helping prevent child sexual abuse – to provide certified training opportunities for Alabama Baptist churches. These resources are online and password-protected, including template policy documents, screening forms and other resources including videos to train staff and volunteers.
The annual membership fee for access to these MinistrySafe resources is $250, but Alabama Baptists may use the coupon code “ALSBOM-Safer” and pay only $50 for its first-year annual fee, which includes access to the MinistrySafe documents library. There is a $5 per person fee for the online video of Sexual Abuse Awareness Training, which is the most important element of a safety system.
Responding to Victims
A renewed and reaffirmed partnership with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries (ABCH)/Pathways Professional Counseling continues to provide access to counselors trained in the treating victims of trauma situations, including child sexual abuse. The ABCH is also available to help churches in dealing with these critical issues.
When a suspected incident of child sexual abuse occurs in a local church, leaders often believe they should investigate. However, Alabama law (section 26-14-6.1) makes it clear that responsibility for investigation lies with law enforcement and the Department of Human Resources (DHR). If there is reason to suspect child sexual abuse, it should be reported immediately to law enforcement and the county’s DHR.
If an incident of child sexual abuse occurs, or a suspected case, the first priority should be the well-being of the victim, ensuring the person is heard and taken seriously. The church should offer counseling services to the individual and family members at the church’s expense.
Respecting Our Values
Our values include autonomy at every level: the local Baptist church, the association, the state convention and the SBC. We value the accountability all of us have in ministering to “the least of these” among us (Matthew 25:45).
The SBOM is not a governing body in relationship to our churches. We offer resources and suggest best practices. The local church is self-governing and makes autonomous decisions regarding all policies in the local context, including on this critical issue.
For more information, please call 1-800-264-1225: State Missionary Lee Wright, ext. 241 or (334) 613-2241, [email protected], or State Missionary Mike Jackson, ext. 210 or (334) 613-2210, [email protected].