Monday, November 1, 2010

Autonomy doesn't trump kids' safety

“Anytime an SBC minister commits abuse, the denomination carries some level of blame for not creating a system to deal with abuse.”

Those are the words of Rev. Timothy Bonney, written today on the BaptistLife forum. Bonney is now a pastor at a United Methodist Church, but he spent many prior years as a pastor with the American Baptist Churches USA. So, Bonney knows about Baptists.

The American Baptists are a much smaller Baptist group, but like all Baptists, local church autonomy is central to their polity. However, for American Baptists, autonomy doesn’t preclude a system for clergy accountability.

The Southern Baptist Convention may be a lot bigger, but they could sure take a lesson from the American Baptist Churches.

Kudos to Rev. Timothy Bonney for his clear, true words! Here they are in context:

“The SBC could do as the ABC has done and create a clergy registry which would allow them to recognize clergy or blackball offenders when necessary. They are the largest non-Catholic denomination in the U.S. They could do it. They just won't do it. And so anytime an SBC minister commits abuse, the denomination carries some level of blame for not creating a system to deal with abuse.

I know local church autonomy is a very high value belief for Baptists. But I have a hard time seeing local church autonomy trumping the safety of children and the overall well being of the church.”


Related post with more words from Timothy Bonney and others: “Essence of the problem.”

See also "Iowa church illustrates low standards of Baptistland."


Anonymous said...

Maybe "My Way" by Frank Sinatra should be the Baptist theme song.

Christa Brown said...

Yes... and here's a picture of Paige Patterson singing "My Way" ... or at least appearing to.

Unknown said...

I had no idea my ideas were going beyond In the UMC an abuser would be out the door and not get re-appointed. It is one of the advantages of a connectional system.

Christa Brown said...

Welcome here, Timothy, and thanks for voicing your thoughts, both here and on BaptistLife. Incidentally, I also liked what you said about the "overall well-being of the church." I believe that better care for clergy abuse survivors may also be a way of providing better care for the overall system -- i.e., care for unknown people within the faith community, care for future people within the faith community, care for congregations, and care for the integrity and wholeness of the system itself.