In June 2016, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist Women in Ministry formally launched a joint Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force. Members of the task force could not have imagined two years ago the degree to which conversations about sexual abuse would dominate our popular, political and even religious culture. The #MeToo Movement caught on like wildfire on social media and, sadly, #ChurchToo soon followed.
While sexual abuse is all too common in our society, the occurrence of clergy sexual misconduct is especially tragic. Ministers who harass and abuse break trust, and wounds from that broken trust often result in a crisis of faith. How a church responds to one who is violated has lasting impact. For too long, Baptists have found shelter in a congregational polity that limits denominational liability. CBF and BWIM are committed to doing better and to leading churches and organizations in our spheres to do better as well. The time for silence and denial is long-since over.
Today, the task force is proud to release two significant resources developed for use by churches, seminaries and partnering organizations. “Safe Churches and Ministers” is an educational video that introduces this tough topic and provides much-needed definitions, statistics and stories that are designed to help churches, students and leaders take seriously their responsibility in preventing abuse. The video is accompanied by a leader guide and discussion guide and is available in both English and Spanish.
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