Task force

Task Force to Review the Executive Committee’s Handling of Sexual Abuse

At the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Nashville, TN, the messengers passed a motion calling for the appointment of a task force to conduct a third-party review into the handling of abuse disclosures and the treatment of survivors of abuse by the Executive Committee of the SBC. 

The Convention directed that this task force be comprised of members of Baptist churches cooperating with this Convention as well as experts on sexual abuse and the handling of sexual abuse-related dynamics. My first priority has been to form a task force that is independent of the Executive Committee to oversee the third party. 

I have asked seven people to serve on the task force. They represent pastors, as well as professionals in law, counseling, and abuse advocacy. I sought counsel and recommendations from experts in the field and from trusted advisors to identify the members of the task force. This group includes respected pastors within our Convention who are independent of the Executive Committee and who do not have a conflict of interest related to the review. It is also composed of individuals with professional expertise for this assignment. I believe the members of this team are men and women who genuinely pursue God and seek the truth and desire for survivor voices to be heard. I am grateful for their willingness to serve our Convention in this important role.

The task force will be chaired by Bruce Frank, Lead Pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, NC. 

Marshall Blalock, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Charleston, SC, will serve as the vice-chair. 

Other members of the task force include: 

  • John Damon, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Canopy Children’s Solution, Jackson, MS and member of Broadmoor Baptist Church, Madison, MS

  • Liz Evan, J.D., Judicial Law Clerk at Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Nashville, TN and member of Hillsdale Baptist Church, Clarksville, TN

  • Heather Evans, DSW, Director of Evans Counseling Services, Coopersburg, Pennsylvania and member of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Center Valley, PA

  • Andrew Hébert, Lead Pastor of Paramount Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX

  • Bucas Sterling, III, Senior Pastor of Kettering Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, MD.

 

In addition to the formation of the task force, because of their expertise in handling sexual abuse dynamics, Chris Moles and Rachael Denhollander have agreed to serve as advisors to the task force. 

In accordance with the motion adopted by the Convention, the task force has three goals: 

  • to “ensure that the third-party review includes an investigation into any allegations of abuse, mishandling of abuse, mistreatment of victims, a pattern of intimidation of victims or advocates, and resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives,”
  • to make public the findings from this review, and
  • to present to the Convention recommendations for action.

 

Southern Baptists, I urgently call you to pray for this process and to bear the burden alongside this task force as they pursue truth, identify issues, and move forward toward greater health in our response to abuse.

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