I’ve just finished reading the almost 300-page report from the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force, and I am disgusted, deeply concerned, and yet hopeful. If you don’t know what I am referring to, I have put a couple of links below. But for the past year, the SBC has had an independent investigative group looking into the possible/likely mishandling of sexual abuse claims by the Executive Committee over the last 20 years.
I am disgusted with the report of decades of men covering up abuse, ignoring the cries of the abused, and putting the denomination’s reputation above the truth.
The church must follow in the ways of Jesus and be a place of safety, comfort, and help for those who are hurt and abused.
Luke 4:18-19 CSB
 The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, set free the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
I am deeply concerned because of the amount of effort it took to get to the truth. Many leaders in the SBC were completely against the process of waiving attorney-client privilege to get to the truth. Many are striving to change the direction of our denomination who didn’t want people to know this was what had been going on for a long time. This investigation was limited in scope, and I can’t imagine how much more we would know if it went back further than 20 years and was expanded to other agencies and institutions.
I am hopeful because the truth sets us free. The truth in this report is ugly, but it’s not in the dark anymore. You cannot walk in fellowship with the Lord or one another when things are kept in the dark. 1 John 1:5-7 CSB says, “ This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him.  If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.  If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
There is hope for us as a denomination if we will walk in the light. And that doesn’t mean just bringing the past out into the light. Walking in the light means being honest about our motives, pure In our intentions, and sincere in our efforts.
The SBC meets in a few weeks in Anaheim, and I am praying that we can drop our agendas and ladder climbing and focus on loving the Lord, loving one another, and reaching the world. There are some big decisions to make regarding handling abusers and how we care for victims. There are decisions to make on who serves in leadership positions to help move us forward.
I hope that no one who stood in the way of this report or who has known and participated in the cover-up is in leadership after the SBC meeting in June.
As far as how this impacts Harrisburg Baptist Church… we will continue to make sure that we handle hard things like abuse in a manner that is consistent with Christ. Harrisburg will continue to strive to fulfill the great commandment and the great commission to the best of her ability. Our relationship with the SBC is one of cooperation, not submission. The SBC isn’t Harrisburg, but Harrisburg is a part of the SBC, and we will continue to do our part to spread the gospel and lift high the name of Jesus.
I am grateful for the thousands upon thousands spreading the gospel through southern baptist missions. But we can no longer let our commitment to missions be an excuse for the kind of neglect and ungodly behavior that is contained in the SATF report.
Here are the links to the report.
SBC Task Force Summary
SBC Sex Abuse Task Force full report