DALLAS—The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board unanimously voted to renew its partnership with a national organization that helps churches reduce the risk of sexual abuse.
The board authorized a $100,000 allocation from an endowment fund’s earnings to make training and resources from MinistrySafe available to Texas Baptist churches for the next three years.
The MinistrySafe system includes awareness training, a “Skillful Screening” process for churches as they evaluate job applicants and volunteers, recommended policies and procedures for congregations, background checks, and tools for monitoring and oversight.
More than 1,100 trained in three years
Since the BGCT initially entered into a relationship with the national provider three years ago, 1,181 pastors, church leaders, state convention staff and volunteers have received live or online MinistrySafe sexual abuse prevention training.
Katie Swafford with Texas Baptists’ Counseling Services reported at least 177 BGCT-affiliated churches have participated in one of 19 regional training events.
The $100,000 allocation from the J.K. Wadley Endowment Fund’s earnings will enable Texas Baptists not only to provide training to additional churches, but also offer advanced “Skillful Screening” training for individuals who already completed the basic course, develop additional livestream training online, expand offerings to meet the needs of ministers who serve bivocationally and update resources at Texas Baptists’ MinistrySafe webpage.
In addition to the $100,000 allocation for MinistrySafe, the board also approved additional allocations from available J.K. Wadley Endowment Fund earnings—$150,000 for maintenance of collegiate ministries buildings, $150,000 for Baptist Student Ministries campus missionary interns, $102,000 for a multicultural missionary and $50,000 for western heritage churches.
The world is watching
The week before the BGCT Executive Board meeting, an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News revealed about 380 ministers and volunteers in Southern Baptist churches sexually abused more than 700 people in the last 20 years. More of the offenders who pleaded guilty or were convicted of sexual offenses were from Texas than from any other state, the newspapers reported.
“The eyes of the world are upon us—seeing both the good and the bad,” BGCT President Michael Evans reminded the board.
Evans, senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, said Christians always must evaluate their public witness in light of the question, “When a person stands before you, can they see Jesus?”
One-time bonus approved
At the recommendation of its finance committee, the board approved up to $1.2 million from income generated by the Borchers Trust to provide a one-time bonus to BGCT employees in mid-June to prevent a hardship as the convention changes its pay cycle.
The revised cycle moves from 24 pay periods per year to 26 and from paying currently to paying in arrears. The bonus amounts to about 7 percent of net pay, and it is intended to prevent employees from missing a paycheck when the BGCT shifts from paying currently to paying in arrears.
The change in the employee pay cycle coincides with a change in the work schedule—from five eight-hour workdays a week to four nine-hour workdays Monday through Thursday and four hours working remotely on Friday morning.
Trustees elected for schools
At the recommendation of the BGCT Committee on Nominations for Boards of Affiliated Ministries, the Executive Board elected trustees to the boards of five Texas Baptist schools:
- Dean Dickens of South Garland Baptist Church, Rhoda Gonzales of North Dallas Family Church, Luis Campos and Vinson Smith of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, and Van Christian of First Baptist Church in Comanche to Baptist University of the Américas.
- Clois Smith of Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston to Houston Baptist University.
- Danny Dawdy of First Baptist Church in Marble Falls, Dorothy Renfrow of First Baptist Church in San Marcos and Steven Gaither of First Baptist Church in Gonzales to San Marcos Baptist Academy.
- Betty Burns of First Baptist Church in Plano to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
- Sarah (Sally) Eaves of First Baptist Church in Plainview to Wayland Baptist University.
In other business, the board:
- Approved an amendment to the BGCT retirement account plan with GuideStone Financial Resources to unbundle fees paid by plan participants. Due to the size of assets BGCT has in its retirement plan, servicing fees would be less in the unbundled option than participants currently pay.
- Agreed to add proceeds from the Hale-Moore Fund to the BGCT New Church Fund at HighGround Advisors, which is expected to provide an additional $23,000 for new churches annually.
- Selected Tommy Johnston of First Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs, Bobby Bressman of First Baptist Church in Center, Chris Cook of Westbury Baptist Church in Houston, Randy Bigbee of First Baptist Church in Chappell Hill and Frank Urias of Living Stone Baptist Church in New Braunfels to fill vacancies on the BGCT Executive Board.
- Elected Ted Woods of Living Word Fellowship Church in Dallas to fill a vacancy on the Christian Life Commission.
- Filled council vacancies by electing Linda Templin of First Baptist Church in Arlington to the Baptist Student Ministry Council; Bruce Lampert of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene to the Chaplaincy Endorsement Council; Leonard Hatcher of Oasis Baptist Church in Dallas to the Connections Council; Laura Edmondson of First Baptist Church in Saginaw to the Missions Funding Council; and Nicholas Swinford of Cross Brand Cowboy Church in Tyler to the Western Heritage Council.