Pictured Above: State Board of Missions President Brian Stowe presents a recommendation to create a special committee to examine the Florida Baptist State Convention’s sexual abuse policies during the annual FBSC meeting held Nov. 8-9 at Lakes Church in Lakeland.
TAMPA–An eight-person special committee tasked with examining policies and procedures governing sexual abuse allegation reporting, survivor care and prevention within the Florida Baptist State Convention has been appointed by FBSC President Paul Purvis.
The creation of the committee was overwhelmingly authorized by FBSC messengers during the Nov. 10, 2021 annual meeting in Lakeland at the request of the State Board of Missions.
The action stipulated that the committee be composed of nine individuals—four pastors, four female laypersons and the FBSC president as an ex-officio voting member of the special committee.
Those named to the committee are: JJ Johnson, pastor, South Tampa Fellowship, chair; Chris Bonts, pastor, First Baptist Church in Middleburg; Adrian Taylor, Springhill Church, Gainesville; Theo Johnson, Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, Miami; Tami Kreitl, First Baptist Church in Orlando; Stephanie Shermeta, Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater; Nadine Kimsal, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Pensacola; Beth Harris, Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola; and Purvis, ex-officio member.
Purvis, pastor of Mission Hill Church in Tampa, said the committee is expected to complete and share its findings in August. Reports will be given to the FBSC messengers for consideration during the 2022 state convention meeting, set for Nov 14-15 in Pensacola.
The action authorized the committee to review policies and procedures of the State Board of Missions, and the FSBC Cooperating Ministries–Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist College of Florida, and Florida Baptist Financial Services – including any subsidiary organizations of each ministry.
In making the recommendation to create the committee during the 2021 FBSC, State Board president Brian Stowe said the independent review of the policies and procedures will be conducted in “consultation with professionals in this field of expertise.”
Stowe added, “It is reprehensible that this sin exists,” noting that the State Board “has worked proactively in this area for years.”
In 2019, the State Board underwent a comprehensive review of existing policies governing the prevention of sexual abuse, reporting and care that resulted in establishing several new policies, including the background screening of all board members.
“But policies are not meant to be written and placed on a shelf,” said the pastor of First Baptist Church in Plant City. “Every organization should have a process of review to ensure that the policies not only remain applicable but are also being carried out.”
FBSC messengers authorized up to $100,000 to facilitate the work of this special committee including expenses related to travel, meetings, and outside consultant expenses.