by Mike Durbin
Guidepost Solutions Report and our response
All of us were heartbroken by the report from Guidepost Solutions about: "The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s Response to Sexual Abuse Allegations and an Audit of the Procedures and Actions of the Credentials Committee." Reading the report revealed how inadequate the response was by the Executive Committee and the need for preventive policies and practices in churches.
It is our prayer that every survivor of abuse experience hope and healing.
In light of the report’s finding, the BSCM is recommending multiple resources to our churches:
1. Background Checks
The cost of 10 US OneVERIFY Background Checks through Lifeway will be reimbursed to cooperating churches. Our recommendation is that every person who works with children in church undergo a background check.
2. Ministry Safe training
Effective abuse protection begins with training on how to create safe environments, church policies and procedures, and how to identify risk. The BSCM will pay for 10 Ministry Safe Sexual Abuse Awareness Trainings per church.
3. Survivor Care
Copies of the Handbook: "Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused" are available in our office or by downloading at churchcares.com.
4. Training and Response
Our Caring Together Michigan team is available to help churches develop principles and policies to proactively provide safe environments and help should a situation develop.
Dr. Michele White has been contracted to receive abuse reports and connect victims of abuse to the help they need.
A national hotline is available to report allegations of sexual abuse at: SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com.
Our partnership with Georgia Baptists kicked off with a vision tour of the Metro area in May. Over the course of four days, 24 Michigan Baptists shared vision with the seven member Georgia team. They heard from pastors, church planters and ministry leaders and walked away with helpful information to expand the partnership in the days to come. A second vision tour is already scheduled for this fall.
Nine Michigan Baptist Pastors started a two year journey together called re:FOCUS - The Journey of a Lifetime. Through four retreats and monthly Zoom meetings, participants developed deep relationships with each other and the leadership team from Texas that led the retreats. Pastors who did not know each other, or barely knew one other, prayed, encouraged, and celebrated one another before the Father and experienced personal renewal together. The four phases of the re:FOCUS Journey are:
Re:CONNECT focused on abiding with Christ and connecting more deeply with others.
Re:DEFINE focused on discovering your purposeful design.
Re:THINK focused on how you make disciples.
Re:ENGAGE focused on how you engage your community.
During the retreats and monthly Zoom meetings, we bonded as brothers and sought the Father together. Each participant discovered more about himself and developed strategies and engagement plans for the churches and communities where each of us minister. Without exception, those who finished re:FOCUS recommend you experience this "Journey of a Lifetime." Our thanks go out to Tarrant Baptist Association in Texas and the team that led us: Becky Biser, Wendell Campbell, Terry Cooley and Elliott Higgins.
Pastor Wife Retreat
Approximately 40 pastor wives gathered recently in Frankenmuth for a night of encouragement, instruction, and inspiration with Kathy Litton.
Here is a quote from a letter I received about the evening: "The Pastor Wives retreat was perfect timing in my life. I was able to slip away and meet some new friends, hear from God, and buy some good coffee. Thank you so much! I have never been more exhausted ever in ministry. Timing was perfect."
The Pastor’s Wife is more often than not the unsung hero of the church. Her faithfulness to Christ, her ministry in the church and community, and her encouragement to her husband pastor are greatly appreciated!
Be The Church
God is blessing the partnership Michigan Baptists have with Be The Church and Chapel Pointe in Hudsonville. There are currently 47 Michigan pastors meeting in cohorts. Special thanks go to the Cohort Leaders: Roy Henry, Billy Walker, Chip Faulkner, Ed Emmerling, Jason Loewen, Chris Tenneriello, and Jamison Bebiak.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.