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Survivor Responds to SBC Abuse Reform Task Force’s Plans for New Nonprofit ‘Abuse Response Commission’

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ARITF chair Josh Wester, standing with fellow task force members, announces the upcoming launch of the Abuse Response Commission for overseeing further work in addressing sexual abuse reform in the Southern Baptist Convention. Wester made the announcement at the Executive Committee's opening plenary session on Monday evening, Feb. 19. Courtesy of Baptist Press

On Monday (Feb. 19), the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) announced its plans to launch an independent non-profit organization to handle abuse reform within the SBC.

The announcement was made by Josh Wester, Chairman of the ARITF and lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, during the Executive Committee’s (EC) opening plenary session Monday night.

West said that the task force has “endeavored for the last seven months to bring Southern Baptists a plan for abuse prevention and response that is biblical (because that’s what God requires), helpful (because it actually works), responsible (so it makes things better, not worse).”

“And above all else, we’ve aimed to make it simple,” Wester added.

RELATED: Hiding Behind Issues of Polity, SBC Leaders Ignored, Silenced, Ostracized Sexual Abuse Victims for Years, Report Says

“Sexual abuse is horrible,” Wester said. “Survivors have taught us how much pain and damage it causes.”

Wester shared that the ARITF has been “working to ensure that every Southern Baptist Church has access to free tools and resources to help them prevent and respond to abuse,” no matter the size of the church.

Wester said that as time passes since Guidepost’s investigation, Southern Baptists might feel “fatigued or weary” regarding the issue of sexual abuse and be tempted to just move on. “But here is the truth,” Wester said. “This issue isn’t going away. It’s a sin problem. And it runs deep.”

It’s not a theology problem, Calvinist problem, Arminian problem, small church problem, large church problem, old guy problem, or a young guy problem, Wester explained, going on to name alleged sexual abusers Paul Pressler and Aaron Ivey.

West said that “time itself isn’t going to solve this problem” and those who hope the problem will simply go away won’t protect anyone or “make any of our churches safer.”

RELATED: Texas SBC Pastor Aaron Ivey Fired for ‘Clear Pattern of Predatory Manipulation’

He then shared the three objectives the ARITF identified last August: expand the Ministry ToolKit, get those with a criminal conviction or civil judgment against them added to the Ministry Check website, and find a long-term home for abuse reform.