Establish SBC Abuse Database, Abuse Disclosure Protocol and Ministry Leader Training Now
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Anne Marie Miller was sexually abused by a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) youth pastor when she was 16-years old.
More than 11 years after this information was disclosed to officials within the SBC, her alleged abuser, Mark Aderholt, was arrested on July 3 charges of sexual assault against a child under 17 and two counts of indecency with a child — sexual contact.
In 2007, upon identifying the reality of the abuse later as an adult, Anne courageously contacted the International Mission Board (IMB), the Southern Baptist missionary organization where Aderholt had worked for seven years as an overseas missionary. The IMB conducted an investigation into the abuse. They found that Aderholt not been truthful with IMB officials and had "more likely than not" engaged in what the IMB termed an "inappropriate sexual relationship" or what the state and most people educated on abuse would term "sexual abuse." No one from the IMB reported the sexual assault to the authorities.
The IMB knew of Anne Marie Miller's abuse for 11 years before Mark Aderholt's arrest. Her abuser was able to continue working as a missionary, pastor and convention leader in the SBC with access to other children and vulnerable populations in his ministry roles. They never investigated his overseas ministry to see if there were further victims. They still will not take responsibility.
SIGN NOW to tell the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the International Mission Board (IMB) and SBC President J.D. Greear that the SBC must:
- Establish a clergy abuse database
- Establish abuse disclosure protocol
- Establish new and improved training procedures for pastors, seminary students and all SBC ministry leaders.
Despite the apparent confirmation of Anne's abuse via the 2007 investigation, the IMB allowed Aderholt to quietly resign. Within two months, he was again employed by a church in the SBC before enjoying a successful ministry career culminating in his position as Chief Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Having been led to believe that Aderholt was terminated by the IMB for her abuse, Anne was perplexed by his continued, successful career.
Sarah Smith at the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX reported on the follow-up action Anne took :
Rally spokesperson, Ashley Easter shared the need for action with Todd Unzicker, Associate Pastor at The Summit who was representing J.D. Greear, SBC President. She asked that the SBC take steps to protect others from abuse like what Anne Marie Miller experienced and offered a partnership with the president's office.
The For Such A Time As This Rally initially had held an event outside the June 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas, and is continuing to work to meet its three goals:
- Goal #1 - Women to be respected and honored within the churches of the SBC.
- Goal #2 - Establishment of a clergy abuse offender database for the SBC.
- Goal #3 - Best practices training of all pastors, ministry leaders and seminary students on the issues of handling domestic abuse or sexual assault disclosure or incidents.
Even in the last few weeks following Mark Aderholt's arrest, the IMB has not reached out to Anne to apologize for their mishandling of the investigation. Anne has asked the IMB to answer questions about how Aderholt was allowed to continue a meteoric career rise within the SBC after the IMB's investigation.
One of the most significant questions is how the IMB could still have been referring to criminal sexual ABUSE as merely an "inappropriate sexual relationship." Education is imperative, as is the establishment of human resources protocol for addressing employees involved in abuse.
A secondary but equally significant question is why the IMB did not further investigate Mark Aderholt’s ministry overseas while he was employed by them. There is no way of knowing if he engaged in any other sexual misconduct or abuse while being supported by SBC funds. We need to know if there are more victims.
SIGN NOW to tell the SBC, J.D. Greear and the International Mission Board to:
- Let them know that you stand with Anne Marie Miller and want to see the SBC take action NOW.
- Let them know that you want an SBC that will not tolerate the abuse of our children.
- Let them know that it is not acceptable for the SBC to move abusers along to the next church and allow an abuser's career to be uninterrupted while the abused suffers lifelong consequences.
- Let them know that you stand with the For Such A Time As This Rally and its three goals.
- Let them know that you need to see the SBC establish a clergy abuse database, abuse disclosure protocols, and new training and education protocols for all ministry leaders.
Anne's abuse is not an isolated incident, but it is a recent example of what is so broken within the SBC.
Abuse survivor, Christa Brown has established a website, Stop Baptist Predators to document other abuse incidents.
SNAP (the interdenominational Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and the Associated Baptist Press reported on the sad case of convicted sex abuser Shawn Davies who was allowed to abuse boys at four different SBC churches before being arrested while employed by First Baptist Church, Greenwood, Missouri.
The For Such A Time As This Rally has suggested to the SBC that they reach out to Boz Tchivijdian and Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.). It could assist with an independent investigation and review into the deeply flawed 2007 IMB investigation of Anne Marie Miller's abuse, and provide assistance in establishing a much-needed new training protocol for all SBC ministry leaders.
Many states have passed laws in the last decade that require schools to disclose credible child abuse from teachers or other employees so that they cannot continue to move around school districts.
As representatives of the Gospel, churches should be leading the way in creating and passing legislation that protects the most vulnerable among us.
Sign Now to stand with Anne Marie Miller, the For Such A Time As This Rally, and all those who have experienced abuse to call for immediate action by the Southern Baptist Convention!
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