May 28, 2022
Dear Church Family,
The Trails Church cooperates with 47,000 other churches within the context of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Mainly this cooperation is for missions, church planting, and theological education. As a Baptist church, we are an independent church that associates with other churches for kingdom causes.
In hierarchal denominations such as the Methodist, Episcopal, and Anglican churches, everything is controlled from the top down. In Baptist ecclesiology, the authority in a church rests with the congregation itself, guided by the pastors/elders. Therefore, for churches cooperating with the SBC there is no overarching structure that dictates what happens in a local church.
Sadly, like in other denominations, Southern Baptist churches have also faced acts of sexual abuse by pastors and others in leadership positions. Without a central controlling organization to address these issues, many abuse survivors and advocates reached out to an organization called the Executive Committee of the SBC to seek help and to call for ways to prevent abusers serving in pastoral roles from moving around to different churches. Over the last 20 years no real action on these calls took place and many survivors and advocates were not treated seriously in their pleas for help.
Therefore, at last year’s Annual Meeting of the SBC, the messengers of the Convention overwhelmingly approved the creation of the Sex Abuse Task Force (SATF) to investigate the actions of the Executive Committee over the last 20 years. Messengers from The Trails were there in the room and voted for this work to take place. The SATF engaged the services of Guidepost Solutions to conduct the investigation and their report was released on Sunday. The results of the third-party investigation confirmed that some staff and attorneys of the Executive Committee were involved in either not addressing the concerns raised by survivors and advocates or even actively working against efforts to address concerns. Most of this was done under the guise of legal protection and the limitations that come with the non-hierarchical structure of the SBC. There were also other sins that were brough to light.
This release of the report from the SATF is being discussed on various media and social media platforms. Therefore, we wanted our members to make sure you were informed. Please pray a spirit of confession and repentance, holiness, and integrity to fill our denomination. The churches of the SBC that value so deeply cooperating together now have another opportunity to cooperate together. It is for the support of abuse survivors and to help prevent further abuse within churches. All of this with a goal to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ and to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Annual Meeting of the SBC is taking place on June 14th & 15th in Anaheim, CA and our church will be sending messengers to vote on our behalf. At the Annual Meeting, the messengers will hear more about the work of the SATF, recommendations on how to move forward, and the chance to vote on these recommendations.
As a church, we do not and must not tolerate any form of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual) among our membership. At the same time, if you have the experience of abuse in your past, we want you to know that the elders of The Trails are ready to serve you in any way we are able. You will be heard. We believe that all humans are created in the image of God and sexual abuse or any form of abuse is a sin against both the person and our Heavenly Father. As the people of God, may holiness be our pursuit, Christ’s glorious Gospel our message, honoring each other be our aim, and supporting those that are hurting be our heartbeat.
If you have further questions about the report, feel free to speak with any of the elders, or email email@example.com. We want to serve you in any way we can.
The Trails Church Elders