Dear FBC Family,
I write this to you to keep you informed of what is going on in both our church as well as the cooperating missions groups that we are a part of. We are a cooperating church in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This past week a report, commissioned by a special task force (the Sexual Abuse Task Force, formed last summer after the 2021 Convention in Nashville), was released detailing the mishandling of abuse cases by the highest levels of SBC leadership. If you are interested in reading the report in its entirety, the link to do so will be at the bottom of this page. This report not only included cases of abuse committed by SBC pastors around the country, but also includes detailing of the cover-up of this abuse by men and women who sought to prioritize an institution over hurting individuals.
I believe that while the acts detailed in this report and the necessity of this report are utterly reprehensible, our convention now has a choice before us. We have a choice to either continue the good work began last year in Nashville, when over 14,000 messengers voted to commission the Sexual Abuse Task Force by implementing the action steps accompanying the report or to not. In that vein, Carissa and I will be traveling to Anaheim, CA next month to cast our votes to support the recommendations made by the task force to make things right with the survivors, to put in place institutional safeguards to prevent further harm from those most vulnerable. This is important because our churches must be places that are safe for the vulnerable, places where anyone who has survived sexual abuse can be cared for, and where those who would perpetrate such heinous acts would be prevented from having access to our children.
I am thankful for our children’s leaders and youth leaders that are committed to keeping our children and youth safe. Our church leaders have not only undergone background checks before they are working with children, but they are also participating in safety training through the Pathways:Prevention and Protection program through our state association, the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware.
I am thankful for the courage of abuse survivors who have told their stories to prevent others from being hurt. I am deeply sorrowful that they have undergone such deep hurt. I am deeply sorrowful for the additional hurt they have received from their treatment by those in denominational leadership. If you or someone you know has undergone abuse, please contact local law enforcement, as well as letting Carissa or myself know so that we can help provide protection and put you in contact with local counseling resources so that you can get the help that you need to begin to find healing.
As I think about our future as a church that affiliates itself with the SBC, a lot will depend upon what happens in the future, particuarly at the annual meeting in Anaheim. I have confidence that the pastors and church leaders who gather will continue the good work begun in Nashville, that we will make the institutional changes that need to be made to keep our most vulnerable safe, and to repent for the great wrongs done previously. There are many ministries including SBC Seminaries, NAMB, IMB, SBC Relief that I am glad to support financially as they minister in ways that our small church by itself would not have the reach to do. However, the work of Jesus Christ is firmly built on following truth and obedience to God’s word. I hope and pray that our church will not need to reassess our entire relationship with the SBC.
If you have further questions and wish to discuss this topic at length with Carissa or myself, please feel free to reach out to us both. We remain your servant leaders,
Rev. Jay Beard, Lead Pastor