A new resource developed for women’s ministry leaders to help them minister to victims of sexual abuse is now available, thanks to a partnership between the North Carolina and South Carolina Baptist state conventions.
Responding Well: A Guide for Women’s Ministry Leaders to Help Survivors of Sexual Abuse is a free resource manual created by and designed for women’s ministry leaders that includes biblical and practical advice on how to support and care for abuse victims.
Ashley Allen, women’s ministry leader with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), and Melanie Ratcliffe, women’s ministry leader with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, co-authored the guide as a way to serve and equip other women’s ministry leaders.
“Many women’s ministry leaders serve in volunteer capacities in their local church, and our desire was to create a resource with them in mind,” Allen said. “Women often turn to other women for help, so we wanted to equip women’s ministry leaders to respond well to hurting women who may turn to them.”
The resource addresses topics related to developing policies and procedures, reporting guidelines, definitions of terms, training volunteers and more.
“Women’s ministry leaders are trusted mentors, guides and confidants to the ladies they lead and serve,” Ratcliffe said. “The ‘Responding Well’ resource was designed to help women’s ministry leaders to not only know how to counsel women who are victims of abuse, but also what steps to take if information that is shared with them is required to be reported by law.”
Allen and Ratcliffe said they view the ‘Responding Well’ resource as a complement to the ongoing efforts by pastors, churches and leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to address and respond to cases of sexual abuse.
“We are thankful for the efforts that pastors and leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention have devoted to equipping churches to respond to the issue of sexual abuse and care for victims,” Allen said. “The ‘Responding Well’ resource aligns with those efforts.”
Ratcliffe added: “Our prayer is that God would use the ‘Responding Well’ resource to help women minister to, care for and support other women who have suffered from the pain of abuse in their lives.”
In June, LifeWay Christian Resources, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and those working with the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Study worked together to produce “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused,” a free multimedia resource geared toward church staff members, lay leaders and volunteers. The resource is a comprehensive training curriculum that combines a handbook with 12 video lessons from experts in the areas of social work, law enforcement, trauma counseling, abuse counseling, legal services and pastoral care. The resource is available at churchcares.com.
Southern Baptist leaders are also encouraging churches to take the “Caring Well Challenge,” which is a multifaceted effort to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors. More information on the challenge is available at caringwell.com.
Executive leaders with the North Carolina and South Carolina Baptist state conventions said the “Responding Well” resource will help church leaders prevent abuse and care for the abused.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with our friends at the South Carolina Baptist Convention to develop such a valuable resource for women’s ministry leaders,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the BSC. “I believe pastors can also benefit from the information contained in this guide to help them prevent abuse and provide the appropriate care to the abused. My prayer is that this resource would be used by God in a mighty way.”
“Here at the South Carolina Baptist Convention we are committed to providing the best resources possible so churches have the necessary tools to recruit, screen and train volunteers and staff in order to prevent abuse before it can begin,” said Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist State Convention. “Additionally, we are committed to helping churches know how to best care for and minister to persons who have been victimized by any type of abuse. This resource will go a long way to those ends.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Information from Baptist Press was used in this report.)