Florida Baptist churches at forefront of sexual abuse prevention

0 117

NAPLES – Florida Baptist pastor Alan Brumback believes a fence at the top of a cliff always beats an ambulance at the bottom. He takes the philosophy to heart in guarding First Baptist Church of Naples against sexual abuse.

“We take this seriously,” Brumback told Baptist Press. “We want the church to be the safest place that people can go where the vulnerable are not exploited and Christ and the gospel are the main things.”

As a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention (ECAP), First Baptist Naples at least annually conducts mandatory training for all church employees, requires background checks and screenings for all staff and volunteers – with periodic updates, provides sexual abuse prevention resources and conducts a counseling ministry.

“To be a charter member of ECAP – and we really wanted to be on the front end of this – was important for us,” Brumback said. “It’s a lot of work. And it’s ongoing continuing education. It’s not like you’re ever done.”

First Naples fingerprinted and conducted background checks on 500 volunteers serving the 1,700 students enrolled in Vacation Bible School June 3-7, Brumback said.

“Churches are unfortunately a place where predators exploit their opportunities,” Brumback said. “And so we want to be extra vigilant.”

In Florida, “multiple churches” are developing sexual abuse prevention programs that align with ECAP’s standards, Florida Baptists’ Executive Director Tommy Green told Baptist Press, but exact numbers were not available.

“Creating and implementing a comprehensive abuse prevention program is a lengthy process that requires a church to dedicate considerable time to the development and implementation of its abuse prevention policies and procedures,” Green said. “We are encouraged that several churches are nearing the milestone of moving from candidate to accreditation status.”

The Florida convention has allocated $30,000 to help smaller churches cover the costs of seeking ECAP accreditation, which indicates a church meets defined standards of abuse prevention and care.

“The convention remains committed to emphasizing the critical importance of abuse prevention in the local church by providing training events each year,” Green said. “We believe ECAP has developed the gold standard for abuse prevention and remain hopeful that more Florida Baptist churches will engage in the full accreditation process.”

First Baptist Naples is among five Florida Baptist churches listed on ECAP’s website as charter members of the organization, founded in 2019. Joining First Naples are Shindler Drive Baptist Church and Hibernia Baptist Church, both in Jacksonville, South Tampa Fellowship and First Baptist Church of Orlando.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.