Caring Well Challenge against abuse launched in SBC

By Tom Strode on September 30, 2019

NASHVILLE (BP) — The “Caring Well Challenge” to help Southern Baptists address sexual abuse launched Aug. 25 in about 750 churches.

While Caring Well Sunday marked the first step in an eight-part, 12-month effort to help equip churches to prevent abuse and to care for survivors, churches may continue to sign up for the challenge at caringwell.com.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the Sexual Abuse Advisory Study jointly announced the Caring Well Challenge earlier this year and invited all Southern Baptist churches to participate.

The challenge is part of a multi-faceted effort throughout the Southern Baptist Convention to address a crisis involving the failure of churches to protect and care for hundreds of sex abuse victims and to prevent perpetrators in many cases from continuing their abuses.

Caring Well Sunday — which can be set for any date — is an opportunity for participating churches to launch and explain the initiative.

“I am grateful so many churches are committed to the challenge to become safe for survivors and safe from abuse,” ERLC President Russell Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “This unified call to action, the ‘Caring Well Challenge,’ is a resource to equip churches to do everything we can to combat the satanic evil of sexual abuse.”

In a video for Caring Well Sunday, SBC President JD Greear said the challenge is a process of “first listening, then learning, assessing and launching needed initiatives to ensure that a church is doing everything it can to prevent abuse and to care for abuse survivors. The church should be a place of refuge for the most vulnerable. It takes all of us working together to help prevent abuse and to care for survivors.”

According to information on ERLC’s website, Caring Well Sunday enables each participating church to:

  • Acknowledge the need to become more aware of, prevent and respond to instances of abuse;
  • Explain the Caring Well Challenge;
  • Introduce its “Caring Well” team of members who will lead the effort;
  • Pray for survivors processing their own abuse, the Caring Well team and the growth of the church in the area of abuse prevention.
  • Resources at caringwell.com/challenge/launch for Caring Well Sunday include videos of Greear and Moore, bulletin inserts and a “prayer of lament” Greear offered during the SBC annual meeting in June.

    The ERLC and the Sexual Abuse Advisory Study began their collaboration when Greear — pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, NC — formed the fluid study group shortly after his election as SBC president in June 2018. The group received input from hundreds of people, including abuse survivors and their advocates, lawyers, pastors, law enforcement officials, counselors and denominational leaders.

    The ERLC and the Advisory Study worked with LifeWay Christian Resources to produce “Becoming a Church That Cares Well for the Abused.” The new, free multimedia resource is a comprehensive training curriculum that consists of a handbook with 12 video lessons from experts in a variety of areas.

    The Sexual Abuse Advisory Study issued a 52-page report in early June that recommended several steps of action intended to help combat abuse and care for survivors.

    Each church that participates in the Caring Well Challenge makes a commitment to take several steps during the next year:

  • Commit to the Caring Well Challenge.
  • Build a Caring Well team to lead the church’s effort.
  • Launch the Caring Well Challenge.
  • Equip leaders through the “Becoming a Church That Cares Well for the Abused” curriculum.
  • Enhance church policies, procedures and practices related to abuse.
  • Dedicate Sunday services May 3, 2020 or a similar date to address abuse.
  • Reflect on the Caring Well Challenge at the 2020 SBC annual meeting.
  • All the SBC’s entities, most Baptist state conventions, and many Baptist associations and colleges have encouraged the Caring Well effort.

    This Convention serves our culturally diverse congregations as we fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.