Nightmare scenario fueled pastor’s commitment

  |  Source: The Baptist Paper

Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., and chair of the Southern Baptist Convention’s abuse reform implementation task force, presents the group’s report to messengers at the annual meeting in New Orleans. (BP Photo / Sonya Singh)


A child shows up in a hypothetical situation but represents a real possibility—so real, it moved one South Carolina pastor deeply enough to embrace a seemingly impossible task and expend time, energy and money urging others to come alongside him.

Pastor Marshall Blalock joins a group of founding members already committed to the effort—a group that knew he needed to be included and extended the invitation.

Marshall Blalock

Blalock of First Baptist Church in Charleston and the other five Abuse Response Commission incorporators are serving or have served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force.

“My conviction about this has grown more and more over the course of time,” Blalock said. “Serving on this task force was not an easy job by any stretch. It takes a lot of extra time and hard work, but as each day passes, I’m more convinced of the necessity of getting this right. Every ounce of energy that has been spent on this has been worth it.”

Finding a path forward with the Abuse Response Commission involves costs and time, he added.

“But it’s worth it for leadership to have the best information and resources—and to have the opportunity for churches to become the safest places on earth to hear the gospel. It’s an overarching goal, but our churches deserve that from us,” he said.

‘A little girl out there somewhere’

For Blalock personally, remembering that child—a little girl—keeps him energized and focused.

 “Over a year ago now, I had this dream—in some ways a nightmare—about a 12-year-old girl at a Baptist church. The little girl said, ‘If you had just gotten this done sooner, it wouldn’t have happened to me.’

“All this time later, my eyes still well up with tears when I think of or tell someone about the dream,” he said.

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“Why did I say ‘yes’ to the invitation (to help launch the Abuse Response Commission)? I did this for her,” he said.

“There’s a little girl out there somewhere. And if we get this right, and her church looks at this database and decides they can’t hire a person they are considering because the name shows up, then that little girl is not abused. And it is worth every minute of my time and every cent of my money.”

Blalock expressed appreciation for the diligence of those in the SBC who already worked on its initial Sexual Abuse Task Force and the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force.

“While the task forces have not always known what to do and how to do it, they have kept working,” he said. “My personal goal is to serve that little girl, to protect her. She matters to me.

“When people hear and understand what’s actually being suggested and understand there are still some things that are yet to be worked out, I believe they will see that this plan accomplishes the goal.”

Blalock confirmed an independent institution in this case is “not to be free of the SBC.”

“The point is to serve the churches of our convention while not creating liability for the SBC.”

The plan is not fully developed and many unanswered questions remain. Asking those questions is appropriate and the team is working hard to answer them, he said.

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