As some of you have been aware, or are discovering in the past few weeks in the national news, in 2021 at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention a task force was commissioned to investigate sexual abuse within the Convention. On May 22nd of this year, the Guidepost Task Force released its report. I am thankful that the SBC took this important and transparent step to search for the truth and expose problems, and at the same time, I am deeply saddened by the results.
The Southern Baptist Convention is a denomination of over 14 million people in 47,000 churches. It is a wonderful cooperation organized to accomplish a specific set of missions and ministry initiatives, all for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere. The SBC is known for its cooperative missions, theological education, and disaster relief efforts.
Sadly, in this latest report, it was determined that the SBC Executive Committee had a list that contained the names of 703 abusers, with 409 believed to have been affiliated with the SBC at some point in the past. The report discovered significant evidence to support the claims of mishandling abuse and mistreatment of victims without much or any appropriate action undertaken. I applaud and deeply appreciate the courage that it took for these victims to come forward and tell their stories, yet heartbroken for those affected, for how this was handled, for the reputation of the church, and the witness of Christ to the world.
Eastwood Baptist Church stands on the whole Counsel of God’s Word and we know that sin must be handled with the gravity it deserves, … it must be put to death. (Romans 12:1-2). We know that true grace, hope, and redemption are only found in Jesus Christ. We pray for all those who have been affected in this matter, and ultimately that God would be glorified in the end. Our Eastwood leadership and staff will vigilantly protect the congregation in our care as indicated and instructed in the Word of God. (Acts 20:17-38).
I can assure you that there is no scenario where any act of victimization or abusive nature will be tolerated at Eastwood Baptist Church. It would never be ignored, but immediate and appropriate action would be taken. Eastwood will not condone any matter of abuse, coercion, harassment, oppression, or discrimination.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a mission; a Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20) We are called to be a city on a hill, to be salt and light and we know that among many things, this means providing a biblical and safe place for all whom God brings to grow in the walk with Jesus. Eastwood Baptist Church will continue to sharpen our policies, procedures, and practices now and in the future to ensure this safe and healthy environment. (continued but more intentional background checking process, implemented child-care screenings for volunteers to help train and recognize abuse, appropriate membership requirements for serving positions, etc …)
We will move forward with grace, humility, and honesty, and I will continue to lead by trusting God and leaning faithfully on His Word.
Pastor Brad Kirby