Sexual Abuse Statement
Dear Graceland Church Family,
We are writing this statement with heavy hearts and deep concern regarding revelations of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). As pastors/elders of Graceland Church, we want to reaffirm our commitment to creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our congregation, staff and volunteers. We understand the gravity of the harm that has been inflicted, and that recent reports regarding sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Denomination have caused distress among our members. We want to be clear that sexual abuse has no place in our church or any organization, and we condemn all forms of sexual misconduct and abuse. We are committed to doing everything in our power to address this issue and prevent it from happening here at Graceland Church.
We take the issue of abuse very seriously. Abuse of any kind is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who called us to love and care for one another as members of His family. We believe that every person is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
Scripture reminds us of how we can protect the vulnerable and speak out against injustice. In Proverbs 31:8-9, we read “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” In Galatians 6:2, we are reminded to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
We are thankful for our children and youth leaders that are just as committed as we are to keeping our children and youth safe. In addition to background checks that are performed before leaders/volunteers can work with children and youth (0-18 yrs.), we also require training via Protecting Our Kids. This includes training our leaders and volunteers on how to identify and report abuse, as well as establishing protocols for handling allegations of misconduct. Once complete, each volunteer/leader goes through the background check and recurrent training, every two years. We also require that our children and youth volunteers are members of Graceland Church, which means we meet with them and interview them before they can start serving.
Although the abuse of children and minors was most of the findings, we recognize it extends to adults as well and we want to be clear that if you or someone you know has experienced sexual abuse, we encourage you to reach out to local law enforcement. We also encourage you to reach out to the elders, or our trained counselors through our Soul Care Ministry. Our Soul Care Team can provide ethical, legal, and trauma-informed care. We also have a list of counselors, therapists, and victim advocacy groups we can refer you to if you are needing more support.
As your pastors/elders, we are aware of the recommendations coming from the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force of the SBC (https://www.abusereformtaskforce.net) and we will also undergo training in the Fall entitled “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused”.
Again, we believe that our church is a place where all members can come together to worship and support one another, and we are committed to maintaining a safe and respectful environment for everyone who enters our doors. We believe that through prayer, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we work together, we can create a safer and more compassionate environment for all members. We ask for your continued prayers and support as we continue to put Jesus first, in our lives, for our neighbors.
Your Elders (Ryan Brown, David Gantenbein, Matt Lowe, Nathan Millican, Reuben NesSmith, Brandon Ratliff and Larry Riley)