By now many have seen news of the disturbing report on the Southern Baptist Convention, the network of churches to which our church belongs. This report contains the findings of the Sexual Abuse Task Force Investigation. The full report (WARNING: this could be triggering content for those who have experienced abuse and should not be seen by children) can be viewed here. The contents of the report are horrible and should be deeply lamented by all of us. These are the failures of a few leaders that we all must acknowledge and do our best, by God’s grace, to make right. And by “we” I mean Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders everywhere, including the pastors of our church.
The Koinos pastors want the members of our church to know what has happened, where we stand on this, and what we intend to do. We want to make clear that we think any abuse of children or adults, male or female, are acts of absolute evil, sinful acts condemned by our Lord, and are to be condemned by the Lord’s church. We also realize that hearing such news is especially traumatizing to those who have, themselves, experienced abuse.
If you or someone you know is hurting now because this news has caused past abuse to be relived, we want you to know that we care. We are here to help you in any way possible to deal with the revived harm you may feel and find the way to move toward healing. We invite anyone who is hurting in this way to reach out to our pastors, our church staff, or other leaders. We can direct you to trusted places to find help.
Some might prefer talking about their hurt anonymously. Some may have never spoken to anyone about their abuse until now. Here are two hotlines those in the area of Troy, Ohio can call any time day or night.
The tri-county crisis hotline: 800-351-7347
Miami County hope line: 855-276-4673.
Here’s What Happened
The company that was hired is Guidepost Solutions which specializes in investigation, security consultation, and risk assessment. Their investigation took place over the following months. Their report was made public this past Sunday, May 22. The following excerpt is from paragraph two of the executive summary in their report. It reflects their horrific discovery.
“Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC (Executive Committee) leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations. In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.”
Any responsible person reading this should be appalled that trusted leaders could ever act in such ways. The rest of the report details more despicable acts. The bottom line is this. Victims of abuse were ignored. Abusers were not held accountable. Families and churches were devastated. The name of our Lord was greatly dishonored.
The essence of the report is this. There has been a systemic practice of covering up reports of abuse. There is a small number of leaders who did this. They held a tight grip on these reports and covered them up. These leaders acted on advice given to them by the law firm that has long been retained as legal counsel for the SBC. This advice aimed to protect the institution of the SBC from legal liability but was not obedient to biblical instruction to care for the people who make up the SBC as church members.
Is Anything Good Coming From This?
Is it possible that any good could possibly come from this? Yes. Because our God is the Almighty and full of mercy, He is both able and willing to bring good out of even these horrible events. Here are some good things.
It is good that the good people of SBC churches across the country heard the growing outcry of victims and demanded the independent investigation take place. This should have happened a long time ago to be sure. But it is good that it has at last happened.
Several leaders named in the report have resigned their positions. This includes the President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, a vice president of the North American Mission Board, and the law firm serving as legal counsel to the SBC since 1966. It is very likely that there will be more who must be removed from their roles due to their actions. It was their duty to represent us, SBC church members. But we now know they and their actions do not represent us. It is good that these people will no longer be in these roles.
There is a rising tide of grass roots leaders and church members being made aware that bad things have happened and there is resolve to do whatever is possible to make it right.
The report from Guidepost includes eight key recommendations for making the needed reforms over upcoming years. It is thought by many leaders that all eight recommendations will be implemented.
What Are We Going To Do About This?
First, we are going to keep doing what we have been doing to provide a safe place for people to worship God, especially our children. Koinos has a high standard for those serving as leaders. We allow only those to serve who are committed to church membership, who are in good standing, and who are faithful examples. Thorough background checks are required as well as training on identifying and preventing abuse. Safety protocols are in place preventing adults from being alone with children and keeping restroom areas safe.
At Koinos we take the reporting of abuse seriously and will continue to do so. In the twenty-four years of our church’s existence there have been zero accusations of any inappropriate actions within our ministry areas. Whenever other instances of abuse are revealed by victims seeking help, our leadership has taken appropriate steps to ensure that necessary reporting is done and the needed help is given.
Should Koinos continue to be associated with the SBC network of churches or should it end the relationship? Our elders believe we must stay with the SBC and ensure that those who have done wrong are held accountable. There is a small number of those guilty of the cover ups. It was their job to represent us and serve us. But they do not represent us, and they did not serve us well. Their actions have brought untold harm to those under their watch. Those doing such things must be removed from their positions of leadership and held accountable.
Koinos plans to send two of our pastors as messengers to the upcoming annual meeting in Anaheim, California June 12-15. They will work in cooperation with others to see that all recommendations from the Guidepost report are adopted to be implemented in SBC boards and entities.
The Koinos pastors have been working in partnerships with churches of the Greater Dayton area to adopt faithful practices concerning abuse. We will continue helping other churches care well for victims of abuse. We will encourage other churches to hold abusers accountable by reporting their crimes to law enforcement.
What Should You Do About This?
If you have been harmed or troubled by hearing these things, please reach out to one of our leaders right away. We want to walk with you through this and help you be reassured that you are deeply loved by God and by His church.
If you have been abused but have never told anyone, we hope this might be the moment you tell someone. We know that it must be very hard to do that, but we want you to know that you are not alone and you will be heard. We will do our best to care for you.
If you have more questions or concerns about these things, please get in touch with one of our leaders. We want to give whatever help so that you are able to find reassurance and peace of mind.
To read or listen to more on this report go to these links: