Southern Baptist Convention meets in Fort Worth to tackle sex abuse scandal

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Members of the Southern Baptist Convention are meeting in Fort Worth this weekend to discuss reforms in the wake of a national sex abuse crisis.

In recent months, the convention – which is the largest Protestant denomination in the country – has come under scrutiny for its handling of the widespread scandal.

Several branches of the denomination are under investigation by the Department of Justice following a third-party probe that found church leaders suppressed reports of sexual abuse for two decades .

In response, the convention created the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force to address the crisis.

Mike Keahbone, task force vice president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Lawton, Okla., said Fort Worth Report this meeting would help provide a roadmap for reforms.

“I’m hoping that (the task force) will bring about real, real reform with real, practical changes to show that we care about the problem — not just public relations or just ‘cleaning it up,'” Keahbone told the media. “We want to help the victims and put an end to this abuse.”

The recommendations include a “ministry verification” website, which will list the names of people who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.

A third party commissioned by a Baptist church or organization would decide whether the evidence amounted to a credible charge, according to Baptist Press. A prosecution, criminal charges without a conviction, or an allegation that has not been investigated by a third party would not meet the standard.

The meeting in Fort Worth comes just days after a high-profile North Texas pastor took a leave of absence due to an inappropriate online relationship with a woman who is not his wife.

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Matt Chandler, pastor of the Flower Mound village church, said the relationship was neither sexual nor romantic. But elders at the Southern Baptist Church thought the Instagram messages were “reckless and reckless” and “revealed something unhealthy in me”, he said. The admission did not include allegations of sexual abuse.

“The Word of God keeps me on a certain level,” Chandler said. “And I fell short.”

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