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SBC leader proposes reforms to address sexual abuse

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear speaking to the denomination’s executive leadership in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday Associated Press/Photo by Mark Humphrey

SBC leader proposes reforms to address sexual abuse

The leader of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on Monday announced proposed changes following an investigative report published last week finding widespread sexual abuse by pastors, staff, and volunteers in the denomination. “Brothers and sisters, there is a problem,” SBC President J.D. Greear said during prepared remarks at a two-day meeting of the denomination’s executive committee. “This is not a fabricated story made up by people with a secular agenda. We’ve not taken reports of abuse in our churches as seriously as our gospel demands, and sometimes even worse, outright ignored or silenced victims. It’s time we back up our words with actions that demonstrate our concern about this.”

Greear proposed providing more resources for churches to deal with sexual abuse, requiring more background checks for leaders and staff, and changing the SBC bylaws to allow for the removal of churches that show a “wanton disregard for sexual abuse.” He also announced an agreement by the six Southern Baptist seminaries to make training on abuse prevention mandatory and said the idea of a registry of convicted or credibly accused leaders and volunteers was under consideration.

Greear provided a list of 10 churches he said should be scrutinized for their handling of sexual abuse allegations and potentially removed from the SBC, including Second Baptist Church in Houston, a 60,000-member congregation pastored by former SBC President Ed Young.

Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

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