Florida Baptists establish affiliate relationship with Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention

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JACKSONVILLE–Florida Baptists’ State Board of Missions approved a recommendation March 31 for the Florida Baptist State Convention to establish an affiliate relationship with the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention “for the primary purpose of training/resourcing Florida Baptist churches in the areas of child protection, abuse prevention and response.”

The recommendation reads that ECAP “was created in 2019 to provide awareness, accreditation, and resources in order to help Christian organizations that serve kids protect the vulnerable in ministry” and that the organization “seeks to help ministry leaders know how to protect individuals in their care, and how to respond when an allegation of abuse is reported.”

The ECAP website states, “We believe that child protection is a matter of Great Commission significance and biblical stewardship. We want to help ministries create safe environments for children to hear the gospel and grow in Christ.”

ECAP’s accreditation program is an independent process of compliance verification that determines if an organization meets defined Child Safety Standards. After successfully completing the process, a church will receive a Certificate of Accreditation. ECAP’s Child Safety Standards are freely available to any ministry.

As an affiliate organization, ECAP will provide a 20% discount to cooperating Florida Baptist churches that seek to have their ministries accredited through the ECAP process.

The Florida Baptist Convention has committed $30,000 in financial resources to aid churches that desire to develop robust abuse prevention systems through the ECAP process. This scholarship is targeted to churches with memberships of fewer that 500 and will be a 50/50 partnership between the Convention and the church toward the church’s application fee with ECAP. More information is available through Florida Baptists’ regional catalysts.

The affiliate relationship with ECAP is a ‘very positive and proactive step to help churches excel in abuse prevention.’

Tommy Green Executive Director-Treasurer, Florida Baptist Convention

Already, a number of Florida Baptist churches have used the services of ECAP to strengthen their practices in child protection, abuse prevention and response.

The affiliate relationship with ECAP is a “very positive and proactive step to help churches excel in abuse prevention,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer.

Continuation of efforts to protect vulnerable

This approval of the affiliate relationship between Florida Baptists and ECAP continues the pattern of emphasis the State Board of Missions has taken over the past several years in encouraging churches to take extensive action to protect those most vulnerable.

In September 2019 the Board adopted a statement encouraging all Florida Baptist churches to “diligently evaluate and enhance their policy and procedures” to protect the vulnerable. It also urged pastors to enhance their efforts to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors.

Additionally, the statement affirmed the theological guardianship role of the local association and state convention’s determination of a cooperating church as it pertains to a church’s handling of abuse allegations.

In November 2021 the Board approved a recommendation to create a special committee “to examine all policies and procedures governing sexual abuse allegation reporting, sexual abuse survivor care and sexual abuse prevention within the Florida Baptist State Convention.” The recommendation was approved by messengers to the 2021 Florida Baptist State Convention Annual Meeting.

The special committee was subsequently named in January 2022, and its report was unanimously adopted by messengers to the 2022 Florida Baptist State Convention Annual Meeting. The report noted there were “no overwhelming flaws in the policies and procedures of the state’s cooperating ministries.” Five cooperating ministries were included in the review: Florida Baptist State Board of Missions, Florida Baptist Children’s HomesLake Yale Baptist Conference CenterThe Baptist College of Florida, and Florida Baptist Financial Services.

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