We have two stories out of Texas this morning regarding the Baptist Church confronting wayward pastors. Both stories are encouraging steps in the right direction.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) has launched a program to crack down on clergy sex abuse. The BGCT launched a website that names known sex offenders who have worked in Texas Baptist Churches. They have also made it easier to report offenders.
"The BGCT is concerned about the problem of clergy sexual misconduct, and we care deeply about its victims," said Emily Prevost, a staff member who has helped implement the changes.
The website is focused and informative. If you are a registered sex offender who has worked at a BGCT-affiliated church, then your name appears on the list.
- Andrew Argent – Currently serving sentence for indecency with a child and sexual assault of a child.
- Joshua Ross Hyles – Texas DPS sex offender database SID# 05941153
- Michael Lee Jones – Texas DPS sex offender database SID# 06217201
- Joel Dean Joslin – Texas DPS sex offender database SID# 07106980
- John O. McKay, Jr. – Currently serving sentence for sexual assault.
- Larry Nuell Neathery – Convicted of sexual assault and indecency with a child.
- Morris David Roberts – Texas DPS sexual offender database SID# 07151613
- Frank William Sizemore - Texas DPS sexual offender database SID# 02014333
- Kenneth Eugene Ward – Texas DPS sexual offender database SID# 06191027
I applauded the BGCT. This is exactly the right thing to do.
“In the event a minister has committed sexual abuse, he should not be restored to service in ministry in any position in which others look up to him as a spiritual leader,” Brown said. “The weapons used by clergy sex abusers are the faith and trust of others and the mantle of authority that the church and denomination puts on their shoulders. These weapons must be taken away and cannot safely be put into their hands again.”
I agree with their approach. There is a difference between people who have committed misconduct, and people who have committed abuse. Drawing a line between the two is important. Making sure abusers never get a second chance is the goal. Misconduct... well, people need a second chance. A two year program seems to address the problem.
The two-year program began with six months of career assessment, intense personal counseling and prohibition on any ministry-related involvement. During the second six months, the minister was allowed limited volunteer involvement in ministry and was required to participate in monthly counseling sessions. In the next six months, the minister was permitted to do vocational Christian work under close supervision. The last six months was spent preparing for re-entry into full-time vocational ministry.
I have hope. Texas might be on the right track.