First Baptist Richardson leadership has reviewed the recent report regarding decades of sexual abuse within some Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches and institutions. Although we have not actively partnered with the SBC in many years, we nonetheless grieve for each victim who has courageously stepped forward to share their painful experiences. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to the women and children who have been hurt by disrespectful and indifferent treatment from certain high-ranking Southern Baptist leaders.
First Baptist Richardson rejects the behavior and hypocrisy detailed in the report. Our church is committed to safety and security for every person. We require an annual Child Protective Policy certification for all pastors and staff plus all lay leaders who work directly with children and students. This screening process includes a thorough criminal background check and references from trusted church members. We are also committed to reporting any abuse to the appropriate civil authorities.
In addition, we enthusiastically welcome women in pastoral staff and lay leadership roles, and we encourage women to use their gifts of teaching, preaching, leading, and serving within our congregation. As a result, women serve at the highest levels of leadership in our church, and we encourage female employees and lay leaders to report any abuse. We treat women and children with the highest regard and respect.
We are also grateful that our primary partner in ministry, the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), long ago acknowledged and confronted this issue within Texas Baptist life. They have responded to victims with compassion and support, creating a database of known abusers. That database has now been handed over to a third-party law firm to pursue with law enforcement, allowing the BGCT to focus on prevention, reporting, and victim care. The BGCT has also formed a Rapid Response Council to assist churches in responding appropriately to accusations of abuse.
Although we are extremely disappointed by the actions of various high-ranking SBC leaders, we will continue to pray for the new leadership as they seek to change a culture of indifference to abuse. We will also continue to pray for all the women and children who have been traumatized by the actions of SBC leaders, institutions, and churches.
Within our own church, we recognize that we are not perfect and have already identified areas for improvement. We will remain committed to regularly evaluating our processes to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our church members and our community. We will also monitor the responses of current SBC leadership to determine if any further action by our church is necessary.
In a world that seems increasingly dark, First Baptist Richardson seeks to be a church that brings healing and wholeness to our community, even as we are being transformed by Jesus. We will continue to work tirelessly to that end.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss this or any other issue, our pastoral staff is always available to talk with you. Please contact the First Baptist Richardson office at (972) 235-5296.