The Arkansas Baptist State Convention’s (ABSC) newly formed Sexual Abuse Task Force recently held its first in-person meeting.
“In addition to electing officers, the group began their work in fulfilling our task of ensuring the policies and procedures of the ABSC are above reproach in handling sexual abuse allegations,” said Larry D. White, president of the 2022 ABSC and ex-officio on the task force.
White serves along with David Mitchell, vice president of the 2022 ABSC, and six other Arkansas Baptists. At the meeting on Nov. 19, Brad Lewter, pastor of Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, was elected chairperson by the group.
“I am very thankful that the messengers who attended our 2021 annual state convention overwhelmingly supported the formation of this task force. Every Arkansas Baptist should care that our agencies and institutions are operating in a way that is above reproach when it comes to those policies and procedures directly related to sexual abuse of any kind. Currently, the task force members, with the full cooperation of the ABSC, are reviewing all current policies and procedures from all of our agencies and institutions,” Lewter said. “Our prayer is that at the 2022 Annual Meeting, we will be able to report that the ABSC is fully prepared to handle these issues in a way that honors our Lord. I also hope that this will send a message to every local church that they should prepare in every way to handle this issue.”
Megan McFerron of Mount Vernon Baptist Church was elected vice chairperson. Other members of the task force include Betsy Danielson of First Baptist Church in Booneville, Stephanie Davis of First Baptist Church in Benton, Matt Duran of Indian Springs Baptist Church in Bryant and Chuck Graham of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot.
“We recognize the ABSC does not have authority over the local church; however, our intent is to ensure that where the ABSC does have purview, it is above reproach. The task force will work through 2022 and bring an official report with best practices and steps within the ABSC to the ABSC Annual Meeting in Hot Springs in October,” White said.
For more information on the decision made by messengers at the 168th Annual Meeting of the ABSC click here.