Churches should be a refuge for those who have experienced abuse. But, too often, survivors haven't found the protection they deserve and the care they need from the church.
Although a strong and responsive church community can and should be a source of healing and comfort for a survivor of sexual violence, when churches fail, the effects are devastating. When abuse has been mixed with twisted theology or survivors have been met with skepticism or shame within their church community, the effects on their faith can be devastating.
The sexual abuse crisis in American society and in the church—represented by the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements—prompted SBC President J. D. Greear to commission a Sexual Abuse Advisory Group within the denomination. The group was tasked with “considering how Southern Baptists at every level can take discernible action to respond swiftly and compassionately to incidents of abuse, as well as to foster safe environments within churches and institutions.”
This summer the ERLC and the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Advisory Group launched a new initiative called Caring Well designed to confront church sexual abuse. Caring Well provides churches with a simple, adaptable, and attainable pathway to immediately enhance their efforts to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors. In addition, the initiative published a curriculum to equip churches called Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.
As part of the Caring Well initiative, the 2019 ERLC National Conference is presenting Caring Well: Equipping the Church to Confront the Abuse Crisis at the Gaylord Texan on October 3-5. This event features survivors, experts, pastors, and advocates who will seek to equip Christians on the subject of abuse and related issues to empower their churches in the process of becoming safe for survivors and safe from abuse. Some of the speakers include Beth Moore, Rachael Denhollander, Jackie Hill Perry, J.D. Greear, Kay Warren, and many more.
You can watch a free simulcast of the conference at Live.ERLC.com. A schedule of the sessions that will be shown on the simulcast is posted below.
8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakout Session 1
- Panel: Learning from Survivors: The Truth about What Helps and Hurts in the Healing Process – Trillia Newbell (moderator), Susan Codone, Kelly Rosati, Mary DeMuth, Andrew Schmutzer
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Morning Session
- Facts vs. Myths: Understanding Who Child Sexual Abusers Actually Are – Gregory Love
- Survivor Story – Jennifer Michelle Greenberg
- Skillful Screening – Kimberlee Norris
- Panel: Protecting the Vulnerable: Understanding The Church's Role in Preventing Abuse – Phillip Bethancourt (moderator), Samantha Kilpatrick, Carol Hogue, Kimberlee Norris
1:30-2:30 p.m. Breakout Session 2
- Practical Steps for Abuse Prevention, Part 1: Improving Awareness and Understanding the Grooming Process – Gregory Love
3:00-4:00 p.m. Breakout Session 3
- Practical Steps for Abuse prevention, Part 2: Effective Screening and Prevention Policies and Practices – Kimberlee Norris
4:30-5:30 p.m. Breakout Session 4
- Practical Steps to Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused – Brad Hambrick
7:00-9:25 p.m. Evening Session
- Walking with the Broken: Caring Well for Friends and Family who Have Experienced Abuse – Jamie Ivey
- Winter Inside the Church and Hope for Spring – Boz Tchividjian
- Panel: Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused – Brad Hambrick (moderator), Diane Langberg, Karla Siu, Leslie Vernick, Chris Moles
9:00-11:45 a.m. Morning Session
- Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores – Diane Langberg
- We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis – Mary DeMuth
- Restoration and the Cycle of Abuse – Herbie Newell
- What Is a Girl Worth?: A conversation with Rachael Denhollander and Russell Moore on the Church's Abuse Crisis
Note: The simulcast of the event is provided by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.