EDITOR’S NOTE: The following provides a statement from Dr. John Yeats, MBC Executive Director, regarding the May 22 release of Guidepost Solutions’ report to the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) on alleged mishandling of sexual abuse complaints by the SBC Executive Committee.
Guidepost Solutions, the independent firm contracted to investigate alleged mishandling of sexual abuse complaints by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee, on May 15 submitted its official report to the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force. The task force was charged with reviewing claims of sexual abuse made between Jan. 1, 2000, and June 14, 2021.
In response, on May 22, the task force released the full, unredacted, and unedited Guidepost report totaling 288 pages, along with a summary of recommendations to be presented to Southern Baptist messengers at their annual meeting June 14-15 in Anaheim, Calif.
In short, the report says that for the two decades within the scope of the investigation, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been met with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the [Executive Committee].” The full report may be accessed online at baptistpress.com.
In March, 2022, The Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention authorized President Jon Nelson, in consultation with other Executive Board officers and Executive Director John Yeats, to form a Sexual Abuse Response Team to “study and recommend righteous, caring, and wise responses to sexual abuse in Missouri Baptist life, in light of the (SBC) Sex Abuse Task Force report.”
Now that the Guidepost Solutions report has been released, the work of the MBC’s Sexual Abuse Response Team begins in earnest. The Executive Board has tasked the response team with delivering a report at the August Executive Board meeting, as well as the MBC Annual Meeting in October.
Statement from Dr. John Yeats
MBC Executive Director John Yeats released the following statement:
Sexual abuse grieves the heart of God and invites His wrath. It should break the heart of every Missouri Baptist, as well, and spur us to a prudent response that features compassionate care for victims, swift and decisive action against predators, and clear steps to prevent abuse in our churches.
The just-released report from Guidepost Solutions is heartbreaking to read and painful to acknowledge. But it must not be the end of the story. Contrition, confession, and repentance must necessarily follow in order to begin healing where possible and accountability in every step going forward.
The release of this report must mark the beginning of a season of grieving and learning how to biblically address sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches and our SBC structures. Genuine grief requires a godly response, and I ask all Missouri Baptists to join me in praying first and foremost for all victims of sexual abuse; second, for those within the SBC who have committed or covered up any form of abuse; and third, for all messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, who will help us take deliberative action to address our failures and chart a new course for Southern Baptists.
When abuse strikes a local church, it does great damage to Christ’s name, His mission to redeem the world, and His people’s ability to credibly share the gospel. Every Christian should feel the pain Jesus feels when those who often seem the least among us become objects of ridicule, violence, or wrongful pleasure.
Missouri Baptists have long advocated for the protection of the most vulnerable through the ministries of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, as well as through a network of advisors and trainers who specialize in helping churches become the safest possible places on earth for any person. (Learn more at mobaptist.org/church-benefits/church-protection.)
We appreciate the work of Guidepost Solutions — the breadth, depth, and speed of their investigation. Further, we look forward to officially receiving the recommendations of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force in anticipation of the SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15, where messengers from churches across all 50 states meet to discuss, finalize, and receive the report and its recommendations.
Finally, we are grateful for the wisdom of Missouri Baptists in establishing a Sexual Abuse Response Team, which is poised to act decisively and wisely on the recommendations.
One of the great strengths of Southern Baptists is the voluntary cooperation of nearly 48,000 autonomous churches. Together, we send thousands of full-time missionaries to the ends of the earth; train the next generation of Christian leaders at our universities and seminaries; care for the most vulnerable among us through ministries for children and the elderly; speak truth about the sanctity of life and religious freedom in a hostile public square; rush in to provide relief for survivors of natural and manmade disasters; and willingly wrestle with tough challenges.
We grieve together over our sins, repent individually and collectively of them, and rise from our knees in the transforming power of the Spirit. Truly, we are better together. And together we will improve our care for abuse victims, hold abusers accountable, and equip our people so that abuse of any kind cannot happen easily in our churches. This is our great privilege, and our sacred duty.