Pastor Letter: February 27, 2019
Dear Church Family:
I’ve been in the ministry my entire adult life and have been a seminary professor for most of it, yet I am always learning, realizing that I don’t know it all and need to grow constantly. One of those areas in which I have matured is my realization of the widespread problem of sexual abuse and sexual predation. Recent articles in the Houston Chronicle have specifically exposed patterns of abuse that have happened in Southern Baptist churches over two decades.
While we might want to defend and mitigate some of the allegations made, that is not the proper response. Our first reaction has to be one of caring for those who have been victims of any kind of sexual abuse and protection of everyone moving forward. Our view of humanity as broken and depraved certainly gives us a theological understanding of the problem, so we should not be shocked or naïve. Most of all, we should not fail to protect our entire congregation from sexual sin and sexual abuse in every way possible.
Buck Run is not immune to these problems. Since becoming pastor here, I have been informed of allegations of sexual abuse by a staff member in the past. I grieve over any such sin and assure you that to my knowledge this has never happened during my ministry here, and if it ever does, we will do everything in our power to protect the victim(s) and seek justice. I have instructed my staff and I ask you now that if ever you hear of any kind of abuse, sexual or otherwise, that your first reaction is to call 911 and inform the police. I do not want to hear of it nor any of our other pastors to hear of it before the police do. If I learn of any kind of sexual abuse, I will call the police and let them investigate it first. To do anything else is to endanger the innocent and perhaps to prolong their abuse.
We are doing all we know to do to protect our children and students. This is why we have a secure area for children on Sunday morning, and we require more than one adult with our children at all times, and we do background checks on children’s workers, and compel our staff and children’s workers to be trained in preventing abuse and spotting potential predators. From time to time I have had pushback against some of these measures and been accused of being too careful. Surely we now see that this is the least we can do.
I am aware that not all sexual sin rises to the level of sexual abuse, but as the people of God we must demand of one another that we live holy lives, that we believe and practice God’s ethic of purity. We cannot claim to preach God’s standard of sex within marriage between a man and a woman while simultaneously indulging pornography, promiscuity, or enabling abuse.
Our hearts should be broken over any sexual sin, but most of all any form of abuse. I hold myself and my staff to the highest standards of accountability and purity. That is why we put all of our offices in the same area with our doors facing each other. I love my fellow pastors, but I will never defend their sin, nor do I want them to defend my sin.
Transparency, accountability, prevention, and protection are good words and I want them always to be true of the way we do ministry at Buck Run.
Your grateful pastor,