Sunday, December 15, 2013

Those pesky, blogging "watchdoggers": woof. Who let them out?

Jack Graham Tells the Church to Get "As Far Away As Possible" from Those Who Criticize the Church from FBCJax Watchdog on Vimeo.

Jack Graham Explains How to Have Your Best Christmas: Shun Church Critics, Especially Those "Watchdoggers"

But why would Jack Graham want to use his pulpit to tell his church members to not read blogs, to basically shun all people who criticize the church or pastors? Because it was a blogger who helped begin the process of calling Graham's church to explain why they failed to report pedophile John Langworthy to police, resulting in the pedophile moving to Mississippi where he molested more children.

Amy Smith is probably one of the "bloggers" that Graham would tell people to shun and stay away from.

Associated Baptist Press:
World Magazine mentioned Prestonwood’s handling of the Langworthy affair in a cover story titled “the high cost of negligence” related to the reporting sexual abuse in churches.
The article quoted Mike Buster, an executive pastor at Prestonwood who told a local news station in 2011 that Langworthy was dismissed for acting inappropriately with a teenage student. Buster didn’t say whether church officials filed a police report and replied to World’s request for further comment in an e-mail saying nothing had changed from the church’s original statement.
“Something's terribly wrong when ESPN is calling for the truth, but the church remains silent,” Smith said in her blog.
We know there are other victims of Langworthy suffering in silence from Prestonwood Baptist Church and also more victims since Langworthy returned to Mississippi after his firing from Prestonwood in 1989. He is a serial, child sexual predator. Though he is a convicted sex offender, he is not in jail. Kids are safest when predators are in jail.

If anyone has seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Langworthy, please come forward, contact law enforcement, begin the road to healing, and protect other kids. You are not alone. It is not your fault. There is hope for healing and justice.

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.

Clergy abuse was there from the beginning at Prestonwood.

D Magazine July 1989:
And contrary to the way he has represented the affairs to his supporters-claiming that he was seduced, and that the affairs lasted only a short time-Weber apparently was the aggressor. He picked out women in the church who were very attractive (and almost always blonde) and offered to counsel them or gave them tasks to do in the church. He spent time discovering their personal problems, and then used those against them. And he wrapped their relationship in a cloak of spirituality, convincing each she was special, different, one of the few who could help him serve God.
 The pattern of adultery points to a man who came to believe that the rules no longer applied to him, that what he was preaching on Sunday was meant for those in the pews, not the man in the pulpit. With the benefit of hindsight, some church leaders are beginning to see how they were used. Answerable to no one, Weber built a world of wealth and power where he hobnobbed with celebrities like Mavericks owner Don Carter, and prayed at Mary Kay Ash’s cosmetics conventions. 

Friday, November 15, 2013


I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. 

We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something. 

- Mother Teresa

Speak up. Tell your story. Cast your stone across the waters. Do for one what  you wish you could do for all.

And you're never ever, you're never ever going to stop, no matter what all this group [SNAP] is trying to do - the church staff involvement with kids, teachers' involvement with kids - you're never going to stop all of that - no matter what kind of crusade you go on. It's there. It's part of life.
No. No it's not. It's a crime.

Stories at Child Help

SNAP Mission Statement

Our most powerful tool is the light of truth.
Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice

Silent No More


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Numbers, not souls: a culture ripe for abuse

An investigative reporter at NBC Charlotte, Stuart Watson, has done a series on the Southern Baptist megachurch, Elevation Church, and its pastor, Steven Furtick's 16,000 square foot home currently being built in North Carolina. In the most recent report, the NBC Charlotte I-team obtained a confidential Elevation report:

Elevation is the largest megachurch in North Carolina, and one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States. The church has kept its finances secret even from donors, asking staff and some volunteers to sign a confidentiality agreement which threatens to sue them if they disclose internal numbers. 

Elevation’s founding principles called “The Code” state “we are all about the numbers”, and emphasize a reliance on numbers as metrics for growth and success. In one promotional film for Elevation, congregation members identify themselves by the “number” of the order in which they joined the church. 

One of the megachurch leaders that serves on the Elevation Church board of elders is Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Graham is accused of covering up child sex abuse by a former staff minister, John Langworthy, now a convicted child sex offender in Mississippi. According to this story in the Christian Post, Graham, along with 4 other megachurch pastors on the elder board, helps decide Furtick's salary and influences his ministry.

What kind of influence is Jack Graham passing along to Steven Furtick? From what I have personally experienced in speaking out about abuse at Prestonwood, the message seems to be that people are numbers, not souls. And the more numbers these megachurch pastors have to brag about, the less value each individual has. The perceived greater good of protecting the image of the institution becomes paramount.

In any large organization that amasses wealth and power from its constituents, where there is no transparency and accountability, the environment is ripe for abuse and the cover-up of abuse. When the souls of those constituents become numbers that lack individual value, should they decide to leave, they are easily replaced by others eager to take their number among the masses. Numbers are impersonal and lack moral relevance.

When confronted with crimes against children in a church like Prestonwood, do the leaders see the souls of those children harmed? Do they see the souls of the children who will be preyed upon when the accused minister is pushed away to a new, unsuspecting church and community? Several years after the failure to report Langworthy to the police, Jack Graham was again confronted about allegations of child sex abuse by another youth minister on his staff. Again, no report was made to the police about this minister and according to a church member at the time, Graham said that he has to sacrifice the few for the good of the many.

It is so difficult to be immersed in these abusive cultures and speak out. From my personal experience and hearing from victims, there are people, acting on behalf of churches where abuse has occurred and covered up like at Prestonwood, who intimidate and threaten those who muster the courage to break the silence.

In the summer of 2011, while we were still members of Second Baptist, a megachurch in Houston, I tried to seek information about the allegations of child sex abuse by former music minister Eddie Struble. I had been contacted by some concerned parents. I have since found police reports and spoken with the parent of a victim. In seeking information, I emailed several Second Baptist staff members. I received a voicemail from David Dixon, executive pastor who said he found it "somewhat insulting" that I would insinuate that if they had knowledge of abuse they would not report it. David also emailed me to tell me that he was aware of my emails to other staff members and for me to contact him directly and "not anyone else."

I've written about being estranged from my parents, because they are very angry at me for speaking out publicly about the abuse that occurred at Prestonwood. I have heard from one of Langworthy's victims and his parents who have told me that my dad called, as a deacon of Prestonwood, and told them to leave Langworthy alone, back in 1989. My dad also warned me and my husband in August 2011 after my interview aired on WFAA:
You and Amy are going to pay a big price for what has been done here. I'm telling you. You don't go on witch hunts from 22 years ago. You don't.

What Joe Paterno taught me: it's time to stop keeping secrets by J.C. Derrick

 I received an email earlier this year from a brave survivor after she read about Langworthy's conviction in the Clarion Ledger. Here is an excerpt used with permission:
Reading Langworthy's story has brought back so many of the painful feelings and memories I've experienced related to my own abuse at the hands of my grandfather. For whatever reason, I just really wanted to write you and let you know a little about me.

Reading about your parents turning against you broke my heart for you. It's so hard to be brave. Please just know that you have probably prevented many others from being harmed, and your efforts have not been in vain. I pray that your parents will have their hearts softened, and their eyes opened to the truth.

Whew, I feel like I've talked in circles with this letter. Again, I want to say thank you for standing up for victims and for taking a hard, brave stand against evil. The pain never really completely goes away, and healing is a process. I'm always surprised when something triggers the sadness. Reading this story surely did, but that's okay. The cycle of abuse can only be broken when the truth is told.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sacrificing of Souls for the Sake of the Institution

Boz Tchividjian recently joined Janet Mefferd on her show to discuss sexual abuse in the evangelical church.

Evangelical Sex Abuse Record 'Worse' Than Catholic, Says Billy Graham's Grandson Boz Tchividijian

Last week the Associated Baptist Press reported on Paige Patterson's remarks to seminary students:
There’s no room in the church for whistleblowers, a Southern Baptist seminary president said in a chapel sermon Oct. 15.
Patterson goes on to say:
Patterson said the reason grievances between church members wind up in court or the media is: “If I appeal to the church elders, if I appeal to the church congregation as a whole in the matter where I have been offended, where I’ve been misused and abused and misrepresented, if I appeal to them they may not get it right. What do I do if the church makes a mistake?”
“But even if it’s the saved of the Lord Jesus, we still live in mortal bodies; we still can make mistakes,” he said. “The church of the Living God may very well make a mistake, and Paul anticipates it and says: ‘You don’t understand. You still don’t go to the court. Why don’t you learn to just accept wrong, just to accept injustice?’”
Just accept wrong? Just to accept injustice?

This is so typical of their mindset. I've learned this firsthand. Southern Baptist leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, silencing the wounded, enabling the perpetrators of abuse and endangering kids in their churches. Like my dad told my husband in a phone call, "You and Amy are going to pay a big price for what has been done here." He was referring to my interview on WFAA, embedded below. That seems to be the Prestonwood and SBC way, bully into silence.


Thanks to this report by Brett Shipp and WFAA, the story then began airing in Jackson, MS in Aug. 2011. That next week, one of Langworthy’s victims (abused from age 9-13) went to the police. The press reported that and then 4 more victims had the courage to come forward. Langworthy pled guilty in Jan. 2013. 
Paige Patterson must really think that NBC Charlotte is evil for this report on Steven Furtick's 16,000 square foot "not that great" house. 
Many churches believe at least elders or deacons should set the pastor's salary. But at Elevation, it’s a closely guarded secret. Wednesday night at 6 p.m., the I-Team reports on the men who set Steven Furtick's salary. None of them are members of Elevation Church. 
Part 2: Pastor's salary set by board, not congregation

According to the Charlotte Observer, one of these men on the board who sets Furtick's salary and serves as his "mentor" is pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Corbett would not divulge Furtick’s salary, which is set not by a group of lay members of the church, but by a board of five out-of-town pastors. Furtick is also on the board, but doesn’t vote on his salary, Corbett said. These out-of-town board members are friends and mentors to Furtick and, like him, lead growing megachurches. They include Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C., and Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist in Plano, Texas.

This board bases Furtick’s salary, Corbett said, on a “compensation study formulated by an attorney’s office” that’s not tied to the church.

Read more here:

This One Time, I Refused to Stop Talking About Abuse by Tamara Rice
Can I be honest with you? I’m angry today. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with slandering Christ’s bride. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with hindering the gospel. I’m sick to death of people equating exposing sin in the Church with tarnishing our “witness” in the world.
Because my God despises hypocrisy and hidden sins. My God despises pride. My God despises the harming of those who are vulnerable. He showed us over and over and over again in the Old Testament—in ways that are so vivid they make some cringe and look the other way when these stories are told in church—that He does not abide these things in His people.
He does not abide these things in His people.
So I will not be silenced. I will not be belittled as bitter or marginalized as divisive. I will not be quiet so that you don’t have to feel uncomfortable when you scroll through your Twitter feed. I will not be told to watch my tone with you, the patriarchy of fundamentalist evangelical Christendom, because too many of you are failing miserably at your self-proclaimed calling and it is time you listened to people who are not on your payroll. I will not stop talking, even though so few—so few—in the church will take the time to listen.
A few months ago, I wrote about being chastised as an abuse advocate by a pastor at our church at the time, Houston's First Baptist Church.  Someone at Houston's First Baptist, Prestonwood Baptist, or the executive staff of the SBC called the Houston police about our plans to hold an awareness event outside the 2013 annual meeting at the George R. Brown convention center in Houston. After this, my husband requested a meeting at HFBC with head pastor Gregg Matte. They were joined by Doug Bischoff, the pastor that called to chastise me, and a deacon. Before that meeting, Gregg Matte told my husband that he didn't want anything said in the meeting "to end up on a blog." My husband told them all in that meeting, that they should have no problem having cameras there recording every word. Why the secrecy? Why would they not want the whole world to know that they will not stand for child sexual abuse being covered up? Or do they want the darkness and silence surrounding child sex abuse in the church to continue, like Paige Patterson encourages by his comments?

I never received a phone call or email from Gregg Matte. I only have my impressions of his meeting with my husband to go on. While Gregg Matte did express outrage over child sexual abuse, it seems there was a lot of outrage over protecting the image of Houston's First Baptist after this story appeared in the Associated Baptist Press.

Coming out of the shunning and rejection by my own parents and the Baptist institution, I am finding strength of heart, and clarity, like I’m coming out of a fog I didn’t know I was in, even a few years into speaking out about Langworthy and the abuse covered up at Prestonwood for decades.
As I've been thinking about the hurtful words and attitude by Paige Patterson and other leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention, how depressing it is that he’s imparting this completely un-Christ-like mindset to the next leaders of SBC churches, I realized that the reporters and bloggers that I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with have done more to help the wounded heal and protect kids than these pastors. In fact, in the many cases of child sexual abuse that I know of, it’s pastors and churches who have perpetuated the evil of abuse by covering it up.
Matthew 18:6 If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

World Magazine: The high cost of negligence

Something's terribly wrong when ESPN is calling for the truth, but the church remains silent.

Only the Truth will Save Us

So maybe it's a further truth to say that the culture of male entitlement and institutional spinelessness isn't exclusive to football. Or even to sports. Or America. After all, the only Stop Snitchin' culture tighter than that of a football team might be a street gang. Or the cops. Or the mob. Or the military. Or the BBC. Or the Catholic Church. Every one of these cases is shot through with Bronze Age sexism and bureaucratic self-preservation. Choosing sides can only be a fool's game. Rape culture is rape culture, and it doesn't matter who had how much to drink. Or who wore a surplice or a captain's bars. Rape is a rape is a rape.
The answer to which is the same in every case at every level, from the Vatican to the service academies to every jerkwater high school in America. Aptly or ironically it comes from the Executive Summary of last May's Pentagon report  on the Pentagon's own failure to address the sharp rise in sexual assault in the military.
Nothing will change until we make the reporting of rape easier and safer for victims. Until we de-stigmatize victims and stigmatize offenders, no matter how popular and no matter how far they can throw a football. Nothing will change until we hold institutions and individuals completely accountable for what they do. And for what they cover up.
These are your sons and these are your daughters and these are your sisters and brothers. We've known what to do for a long time. We've known how to stop it. Our ongoing failure, yours and mine, in football and out of it, is our cowardice.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not to be blind. Not to be silent.

"Powerful talk that can be applied to abuses in the Church & those that speak out." - Boz Tchividjian

Freedom doesn't exist if you don't use it.
I found myself in this cause, and I'll never be the same.
These are people of immense persistence, an absolute determination not to be blind, not to be silent. 
The really important thing about Gayla is she's ordinary. She's like you, and she's like me. She had freedom, and she was ready to use it. 

In my own personal experience of speaking up about child sex abuse in the Baptist church, beginning with Prestonwood Baptist Church and the abuse by my former minister John Langworthy, I have encountered both silence and shunning by those in positions of leadership there and among the SBC, even a personal  rejection by my parents who stated they do not want me in their lives. A few months ago, I encountered a disturbing tone of "willful blindness" in a phone call from a pastor, Doug Bischoff, at our then church, Houston's First Baptist. This pastor called to chastise me about my blog and efforts to shine the light of truth about child sex abuse within Southern Baptist churches, saying, "I'm confused. You don't see it as a problem?" This call took place just days ahead of the annual SBC meeting in Houston.

Not Marked.
This had slowed the healing down because it had caused the crime to remain in darkness. It had enabled the shame to get an ugly foot hold.
As ugly and painful as it is to have had my eyes fully open to these crimes done in darkness and covered up by those who should be shining the brightest light, I have found the freedom to speak up. No longer blind. No longer silent.

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know. - William Wilberforce

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Add your voice

This statement addresses the dire need for the Christian community to begin addressing the issue of sexual abuse in the Church.

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ

Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children. This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse. We do not just believe we should do better; as those who claim the name of Jesus and the cause of the Gospel, we are convinced we must do better. In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten. Through the media we have been confronted with perpetual reports of grievous sexual abuse and its cover-up. Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims. And while many evangelical leaders have eagerly responded with outrage to those public scandals, we must now acknowledge long-silenced victims who are speaking out about sexual abuse in evangelical Christian institutions: schools, mission fields and churches, large and small. And we must confess we have done far too little to hear and help them. Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Weisel, once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” When we choose willful ignorance, inaction or neutrality in the face of evil, we participate in the survival of that evil. When clergy, school administrations, boards of directors, or military commanders have been silent or have covered up abuse, they have joined with those who perpetrate crimes against the “little ones” – often children, but also others who are on the underside of power because of size, age, position or authority. It goes without saying that sexual abuse is criminal, but within the Church we also believe that it is the work of the enemy of our souls — evil, horrific sin perpetrated in dark and hidden places, forever altering lives and destroying the faith of the abused. How could such evil be present and overlooked in the body of Christ? Surely as his followers, we would do everything in our power to expose the deeds of darkness, opening the mouths of the mute, the afflicted and the needy. The Church must never hinder those who so desperately need to run to God and his people for safety, hope and truth, while also providing them protection from the great deceiver. But we have hindered the victims. By our silence and our efforts to protect our names and institutions and “missions,” we, the body of Christ, have often sided with an enemy whose sole purpose is and has always been to destroy the Lamb of God and his presence in this world. Our busyness and inattention have often resulted in complicity in allowing dark places that shelter abuse to fester and survive. We must face the truths of our own teachings: To be a shepherd in the body of Christ and blind to the knowledge that your sheep are being abused by wolves in your midst is to be an inattentive shepherd. To judge merely by outward appearances is a failure of righteousness. To fail to obey the laws of the land as Scripture commands by declining to report and expose abuse is to be a disobedient shepherd. To be told that wolves are devouring our lambs and fail to protect those lambs is to be a shepherd who sides with the wolves who hinder those same little ones from coming to Jesus. To fail to grasp the massive web of deception entangling an abuser and set him or her loose among the sheep is to be na├»ve about the very nature and power of sin. To be told a child is being or has been abused and to make excuses for failing to act is a diabolical misrepresentation of God. To know a woman is being raped or battered in hidden places and silence her or send her back is to align with those who live as enemies of our God. Protecting an institution or organization rather than a living, breathing lamb is to love ministry more than God and to value a human name or institution more than the peerless name of Jesus. Dear church of Jesus Christ, we must set aside every agenda but one: to gently lead every man, woman and child into the arms of our Good Shepherd, who gave his very life to rescue us from the clutches of our enemy and from sin and death — who rose from the dead and called us to the safety of his side. As we follow this Good Shepherd, we will “eliminate harmful beasts from the land, make places of blessing for the sheep, deliver them from their enslavers and make them secure in places where no one will make them afraid” (Ezekiel 34:25-28). Surely it is for such a time as this that the Church has been empowered to boldly and bravely embody the Good News to accusers and accused alike, and to forsake our own comfort and position to love the hurting with an illogical extravagance. To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God. We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem. You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility. Thank you for having the courage to speak truth. May God have mercy on us all and oh may the day come when his church reflects the indescribable love and compassion of Jesus, even to the point of laying down our lives for his precious sheep.
Dated this 17th day of July, 2013.

Carol Ajamian – Retired Jim Arcieri Pastor of Community Bible Fellowship Church in Red Hill, PA

William S. Barker – Professor of Church History, Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)

Steve Brown – Professor, Emeritus of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Reformed Theological Seminary, President of Key Life Network, Inc., and Author

P. J. (“Flip”) Buys – Associate International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship, South Africa

Rebecca Campbell –  Member of the Board of Trustees at Biblical Theological Seminary

Alan Chambers – Founder, Speak.Love

Kelly Clark – Attorney with the law firm of O’Donnell Clark and Crew, LLP in Portland, OR

Julie Clinton – President of Extraordinary Women

Tim Clinton – President of the American Association of Christian Counselors and Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Liberty University

Wentzel Coetzer – Professor of Theology at Northwest University (Potschefstroom, South Africa)

James Courtney – Ruling Elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Rye, NY

Margaret Courtney –  Co-Director of Family Ministries at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Rye, NY

Glenn Davies – Bishop of North Sydney, Australia D. Clair Davis Chaplain at Redeemer Seminary

Chuck DeGroat – Associate Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Western Theological 
Seminary and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House

Mary DeMuth – Author and Blogger

David G. Dunbar – Professor of Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary

Diana S. Durrill – Pastor’s wife and Sexual abuse survivor

Michael J. Durrill – Pastor of Valley Community Church in Louisville, CO

William Edgar – Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)

Rob Edwards – Pastor of Mercy Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Forest, VA

Mr. Rinaldo Lotti Filho – Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Sao Paulo)

Elyse Fitzpatrick – Counselor and Author

Ryan Ferguson – Pastor of Community Connection at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC

E. Robert Geehan – Pastor of The Reformed Church in Poughkeepsie, NY (RCA)

Shannon Geiger – Counselor at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas, TX

Douglas Green – Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)

Fred Harrell – Senior Pastor of City Church in San Francisco, CA

Robert Heerdt – Chief Investment Officer at BenefitWorks, Inc.

Walter Henegar – Senior Pastor of Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Atlanta, GA

Craig Higgins – Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Westchester County, NY and North American Regional Coordinator for the World Reformed Fellowship

Justin Holcomb – Author and Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary

Lindsey Holcomb – Author and former case manager for sexual assault crisis center

Peter Hubbard – Pastor of Teaching at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC

Carolyn James – President of WhitbyForum

Frank James – President of Biblical Theological Seminary

Karen Jansson – Board member of the World Reformed Fellowship Board Member and Treasurer of the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund, USA

Kathy Koch – President and Founder of Celebrate Kids

Matthew Lacey – Development Director for GRACE

David Lamb – Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary

Diane Langberg  - Clinical Psychologist and Author

Daniel N. LaValla – Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical Theological Seminary

Samuel Logan – International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship, President Emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary (PA), and Special Counsel to the President at Biblical Theological Seminary

Tremper Longman – Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College

Kin Yip Louie – Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at China Graduate School of Theology

Fergus Macdonald – Past President of the United Bible Societies (Scotland)

Todd Mangum – Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary

Dan McCartney – Professor of New Testament at Redeemer Seminary

Scot McKnight – Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and Author

Jonathan Merritt – Faith and Culture writer

Pat Millen – Member of the Board of Trustees at Biblical Seminary

Philip Monroe – Professor of Counseling and Psychology at Biblical Theological Seminary

Amy Norvell – Director of Classical Conversations in Bryan/College Station, TX, Pastor’s wife, and Sexual abuse survivor

Thad Norvell  -Pastor at Community Church in Bryan/College Station, TX 

K. Eric Perrin – Senior Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Cherry Hill, NJ

Michael Reagan – President of the Reagan Legacy Foundation

Matthew Redmond – Author

Nathan Rice – Director of Middle School Ministries at First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bellevue, WA

Tamara Rice – Freelance Writer and Editor

Adam L Saenz – Clinical Psychologist and Author

Karen L. Sawyer – Vice Chair and Chair Elect of the Board of Trustees, Biblical Theological 
Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Arcadia University
Scotty Smith – Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN

Ron Scates – Preaching Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Dallas, Texas

Andrew J. Schmutzer – Professor of Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute

Chris Seay – Pastor at Ecclesia in Houston, TX

Mike Sloan – Associate Pastor at Old Peachtree Presbyterian Church in DuLuth, GA

Basyle J. Tchividjian – Executive Director, GRACE and Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law

Laura Thien – LMHC and Board Chairperson of the Julie Valentine Center in Greenville, SC

Jessica Thompson – Author

Rick Tyson – Senior Pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove, PA

John Williams – Ruling Elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Washington Island, WI

John Wilson – Pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, Australia

William Paul Young – Author

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vocal for victims

You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.

 ~ William Wilberforce

A Georgia pastor, Peter Lumpkins, authored a resolution on child abuse that was passed at the SBC annual meeting last month in Houston. A greater awareness of abuse is always a great start, but what are the practical implications of a non-binding resolution? Who will police it? Who will oversee accountability and action? What discipline will there be, if any, for churches and pastors who have failed or fail in the future to report abuse?

Does Lumpkins have a blind side when it comes to cases of recorded and documented sexual abuse of children within SBC churches, not just within evangelical organizations with which the SBC has close ties, like Sovereign Grace Ministries that prompted him to write and present the resolution?

While I appreciate the gravity of the SGM lawsuit that recently and rapidly captured his attention, where has Peter been in the last few years of documented cases of child sex abuse and coverup like happened at Prestonwood Baptist with Langworthy? Weeks ago when I first heard about his resolution, I tried a couple of  times to submit a comment on Peter's blog encouraging that the light of truth also shine on documented abuse and cover up WITHIN the SBC, like at Prestonwood, but he never would publish any of those comments. He doesn't seem to have had any hesitation speaking out on behalf of the SGM survivors and the lawsuit (and rightly so), so why not for survivors of abuse within his own SBC churches?

The SBC must be willing to demand accountability in reporting of abuse and cease using autonomy as an excuse not to discipline churches and pastors within the SBC who cover up abuse. According to the Associated Baptist Press, in 2010, "for the second year in a row, the Georgia Baptist Convention has withdrawn fellowship from one of its most historic member churches for calling a woman as pastor."  The SBC seems to be selective in the use of their autonomous polity. 

A response to the SBC abuse resolution sent to me by Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia leader:
I am glad to see that the SBC is making better child protection policies but more important than creating new policies is enforcing them. Children will only be safe when perpetrators are exposed and brought to justice. I hope that the SBC will report every suspected case of child abuse, past and present, to authorities but it is still important for every citizen to report any suspected, witnessed or experienced sexual abuse to the proper authorities, As a mother of four and victim of childhood sexual abuse I never want another child to suffer what I did as a child and continue to deal with as an adult.
 I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do. ~ Dwight L. Moody 

Friday, June 14, 2013

In which the Chief of the Australian Army wins the internet: the standard you walk past is the standard you accept

Lookin' at you SBC...and your resolution...where's your moral courage in action, not just words?

This is How a Real Leader Addresses Abuse

Stop Baptist Predators: Another year of Baptist do-nothingness on clergy sex abuse

Brave action, not vague resolutions, stops crimes against kids

Baptists adopt resolution, SNAP responds

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We are here to protect kids: Our awareness event at the 2013 SBC annual meeting

Miguel Pratts and Pam Palmer

Pam being interviewed by Jeff Brumley of ABPnews

Did someone from the SBC or HFBC call the Houston police department days before our plans to host this awareness event at the SBC meeting? Listen here or click to play the audio below of the voicemail I received last Friday from an officer in the Houston police department criminal intelligence division.

UPDATE 6/20/13:
 More about that phone call I received from the Houston police prior to our event, which as anyone can see  was not a “protest or rally” but simply an awareness/media event…with me and Pam and another survivor, Miguel Prats. I called that officer back late last week that left me the voicemail. After a several minute long conversation with me asking him questions about how he was alerted to our plans, my cell phone and David’s, I came away with more questions and an unsettled feeling. He claims to have searched for “protest” and “rally.” I never used those terms on my blog, only “awareness event.” I asked if he called anyone else who had “protested” the SBC and he said no, only me and David Clohessy of SNAP. I asked if he was aware that Westboro Baptist was there, and their counter protesters. He said he didn’t know they had been there outside the SBC. I said really? He seemed a bit nervous at this point, actually throughout the phone call, in my opinion. He explained that he had been off for a week. He then said that Westboro was someone else’s job, yet he had told me that his job was to “search for groups planning to protest or rally.” He did not mention my blog at all but said that he learned about me and our plans from the email that we sent out that Friday morning, June 7. We sent it to Gregg Matte, Doug Bischoff, Frank Page, Russell Moore and Fred Luter:

At some point late that morning, SNAP posted this letter online on the SNAP website, but this officer told me he learned about us from the email we sent out. The voicemail I received from this officer came in about 11:00 am. SNAP can only recall receiving a phone call like this 3 times in its 25 year history.

KPRC: Southern Baptists attending convention in downtown Houston

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Pastor: SBC should support abuse victims

A Georgia pastor says SBC leaders who are coddling a minister accused of covering up sexual abuse send the public a message that all Southern Baptists are soft on clergy predators.

We talked to Associated Baptist Press, KPRC, Channel 39 and I was on my way home and got a call from the Houston Spanish news station Univision 45, story here. So I went back down there and called Pam Palmer and Miguel to come back too. That reporter Pedro Rojas was so gracious and gave us a lot of time to talk, and he expressed a lot of concern about this issue as he said he has little kids. Also, a husband/wife messengers and their young boys approached us as we were being filmed and asked why we were there. We ended up having a great, several minute long conversation and he expressed his concern to see the SBC take a stand to protect kids. They are from Rochester, NY. He asked to pray with us and for us by name. He prayed that there would be voices within the SBC to speak out on behalf of protecting kids. God is good. 

My prayer since I began speaking out to expose abuse within the SBC in August of 2010, when I made my first phone call to Mississippi to warn about Langworthy, former Prestonwood Baptist Church minister:

Lord Jesus, shine Your light of truth, move the mountains of silence, darkness, lies and deceit, heal the wounded, protect the vulnerable and set all the captives free.

 Statement by Pam Palmer, mother of Sovereign Grace abuse lawsuit plaintiff by watchkeep

Update 6/12/13:

Associated Baptist Press- Southern Baptists urge abuse reporting

Baptists adopt abuse resolution, SNAP responds

 Brave action, not vague resolutions, stops crimes against kids.

This is no different than the Penn State issue where there was one there and nobody said a word about it and kept trying to push it under the rug. - Rev. Tim Rogers, Ebenezer Baptist Church
However, I believe it needs to be stronger. - Rev. Peter Lumpkins, Corner Stone Baptist Church

Cracks in the Celebrity-Driven Church
No doubt the Celebrity leaders are not only stunned by how these little people have spoken up, but also that their voices have been and will continue to be listened to.
To God be the glory.