Southern Baptist Action on Sexual Abuse

I am grateful that First Baptist Church of Newnan, Georgia, elected Amy and me to be messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California. At the June 14 afternoon business session, we voted, with the vast majority of other messengers, to adopt the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force.

Their motion was prompted by the revelation that our denomination has often turned a blind eye to, and, in fact, enabled many sexual predators to prey on our congregations. An independent report from secular investigator, Guidepost Solutions, revealed that when complaining about sexual abuse to the SBC, many victims were “met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and outright hostility”. 

Baptist polity regarding church autonomy had been used as an excuse for our denomination to not get involved in these matters within individual SBC congregations. Also, Nondisclosure Agreements (NDA), a common practice among businesses and corporations, was, in many cases, employed as a screen for sexual predators.

Another means used to shield sexual abusers was attorney-client privilege. Our denomination’s former legal counsel said that to waive that right would make the SBC “uninsurable”. To that point, I say: I would rather us be UNASSAILABLE than “uninsurable” when it comes to sexual abuse. Jesus said, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).

North Carolina pastor, Bruce Frank, the chairman of the Sexual Abused Task Force, spoke to the SBC about the potential high costs accompanying his group’s recommendations. He said, “it’s not going to cost nearly as much as these survivors have paid…It’s not going to cost nearly as much as the stain on the name of Christ”. The majority of the 8,133 messengers thundered their agreement.

Therefore, without fear of potential litigation against our denomination or the new budget dollars needed to right our ship, Amy and I voted to approve the Sexual Abuse Task Force recommendations in the SBC Annual Meeting:

Recommendation One:

That the messengers to the 2022 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention approve the creation of an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), authorized to operate for one year, to be renewable by each subsequent annual convention as needed. The ARITF is to be appointed by the president elected by the 2022 Convention, who will also appoint its leadership. Any vacancies will be appointed by the SBC president at the time of the vacancy. The ARITF and its work are to be funded by the Executive Committee for the first year from the sexual abuse reforms allocation. The Executive Committee will fund the ARITF’s expenditures and recommendations, pursuant to the recommendations adopted by the Messengers, the approval of which may not be withheld. The ARITF will work collaboratively with entity heads to recommend funding mechanisms for reforms for following years. The ARITF will report to each annual session of the Convention that it is in existence.

Specifically, the ARITF will be charged to:

  1. Study the Guidepost recommendations for feasibility and bring an initial report to the 2023 annual meeting on which reforms could be adopted by the convention and how they should be implemented, including Guidepost’s recommendations for a survivor care fund and a memorial, auditing the Caring Well curriculum, and the possible creation of a permanent committee or entity. 
  1. Assist SBC entities in studying the recommendations from Guidepost and provide advice on voluntary implementation of reforms relevant to each entity’s ministry assignment.
  1. Serve as a resource in abuse prevention, crisis response, and survivor care to Baptist bodies who voluntarily seek assistance. Such assistance may include providing a list of recommended independent, qualified firms for training and inquiries and will include assisting state conventions with any of the recommendations each chooses, as the state conventions request.
  1. In consultation with the Credentials Committee, revise the evaluation and submission process for complaints of noncooperation due to sexual abuse and publish those revisions. For example, when a church acts in a manner that is inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse, such as showing an unwillingness to cooperate in an inquiry of an accused individual, then the church shall be submitted to the SBC Credentials Committee for consideration in accordance with SBC Bylaw 8. 
  1. Work with the Executive Committee (EC) and Credentials Committee to select an independent, qualified firm or firms to assist the Credentials Committee by providing factual findings for complaints of noncooperation due to sexual abuse. The ARITF will report back any actions to the 2023 annual meeting regarding this selection. This expense shall be funded by the sexual abuse reforms allocation.

Rationale: Over the course of the EC investigation, it has become clear to the Sexual Abuse Task Force that the process of implementing meaningful change in the Southern Baptist Convention in the area of sexual abuse is beyond the scope of this current Task Force

Recommendation Two:

That the messengers to the 2022 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention authorize the ARITF, in coordination with the Executive Committee, to create a “Ministry Check” website and process for maintaining a record of pastors, denominational workers, ministry employees, and volunteers who have at any time been credibly accused of sexual abuse and who have been or are associated with a cooperating Southern Baptist church or entity. The website will be established and maintained through an independent, qualified firm, selected by the Credentials Committee in consultation with the ARITF and to be funded by the sexual abuse reforms allocation. The following are grounds for submission:


  1. Names of pastors, denominational workers, or ministry employees or volunteers who have been associated with a cooperating Southern Baptist church or entity and who have been convicted or had a civil judgment against them for sexual abuse. The ARITF will perform an annual audit of these names to ensure the website is as complete as possible.
  1. Names of pastors, denominational workers, or ministry employees or volunteers who have been associated with a cooperating Southern Baptist church or entity, where a qualified, independent firm has performed an inquiry into the allegations and determined that the individual in question has been credibly accused by a preponderance of the evidence. These inquiries will be initiated by the relevant local church or other Baptist body.
  1. Upon submission of an allegation to the Ministry Check administrator, the administrator will examine the supporting documentation to ensure that the standard of “credibly accused” has been met according to the requirements set forth herein. In cases where a name is submitted for which there is no conviction, civil judgment, or documented qualified-third party inquiry, the administrator will route the allegation to the relevant church or Baptist body for the commission of an inquiry. Where the relevant church or Baptist body is unable to engage an independent, qualified firm for an inquiry of an accused individual based on financial need, and the related local association and/or state convention are unable to assist the church or Baptist body in engaging an independent firm for an inquiry, then, the church may apply for a grant to cover the cost for all reasonable and supported accusations.

Rationale: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, sexual offenders have an 80% recidivism rate. One of the problems in our churches is the ability of abusers to move from one church to another to perpetuate their abuse. This often happens because churches don’t have the means to communicate with one another. This recommendation is designed to give local churches and Baptist bodies a critical tool to identify sexual offenders and prevent sexual abuse; the effectiveness of Ministry Check depends upon the voluntary cooperation of churches and entities within the SBC.


Please pray and be vigilant about this most important matter in our church and denomination. Let’s do our part to implement these recommendations for the sake of Christ and the protection of His flock.


In Christ’s love,

Jimmy Patterson



keep calm

Keep Calm

Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster created by the British government to inspire their people before World War II. The placard was intended to encourage the panicked English population during the threat of Nazi air raids. The crown pictured on the top of the poster was meant to give the impression of an

Read More
red light bulb

Inspired in a Dark Place

Austin Miles was an amateur photographer. He discovered he could read his Bible in the red lighting of a darkroom. He would often peruse Scripture while he waited for his pictures to develop. On March 1912, while awaiting the photo developing process to finish, Miles picked up his Bible. It fell open to John 20.

Read More


Demonization (Part 2) Mark 5:11-20 This is the second blog in my series on “Demonization” from Mark 5. Last month’s post covered verses 1-10 from the same chapter. This month’s blog is from verses 11-20. Here, we see three significant “departures” on the same date in Jesus’ encounter with this demoniac who was possessed by

Read More