Press Interview  Sexual Abuse

New nonprofit to lead SBC abuse reform efforts after delays in launch of abuser database


A new independent nonprofit will take over the work of abuse reform within the Southern Baptist Convention, the latest move in the often rocky process to boost accountability for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The SBC Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force announced the news on Monday, celebrating it as a fulfillment to an increasing need and long-held desire to deal with a clergy sexual abuse crisis. But the flip side of Monday’s news is a further delay in the launch of a database of ministers accused of abuse which many expected to be live already.

The independent structure of the nonprofit, named the Abuse Response Commission, is different than most other agencies serving Southern Baptists, making it less beholden to denominational politics or the whims of any one SBC leader. It will also provide a workaround for certain hurdles the temporary abuse reform task force has encountered and caused disappointment among abuse survivors and allies.

North Carolina pastor Josh Wester, chair of the SBC Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force called on heads of SBC entities — including seminaries, mission boards, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the SBC’s public policy arm — to help fund long-term abuse reform. Depending on what those leaders decide in the coming months, Wester said it’s possible the abuse reform task force might not ask the convention to put Cooperative Program dollars toward the nonprofit.

Brent Leatherwood, president of the Nashville-based Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is already planning on sending along a request for funding long-term abuse reform to the entity’s trustees.

“For too long, reform efforts have been paused, halted, or stymied. No more. The path forward is clear,” Leatherwood said in a statement, commenting on his intention to approach trustees for funding. “Safeguarding our churches and serving survivors requires a cooperative response. And it is needed now. Vulnerable lives are at stake and inaction is not an option.”

Read the full Tennessean article here.

Related Content

Russell Moore announces departure from Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Moore to join Christianity Today as Public Theologian

NASHVILLE, TENN., May 18, 2021—Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics &...

Read More

SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group Releases Report on Church Sexual Abuse

NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 8, 2019—In advance of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist...

Read More

ERLC hires five new staff members during trustee meeting

WASHINGTONDuring its annual gathering of trustees, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the...

Read More