NASHVILLE (BP) – Doing what some have called impossible is the goal of the pastor leading a key SBC task force. Marshall Blalock, chairman of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARIFT), believes the creation of a ministry check website is possible.
“We’re learning that it’s nearly impossible to do, but it can be done,” Blalock said.
Blalock, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., and Jon Nelson, ARITF member and lead pastor of Soma Community Church in Jefferson City, Mo., were guests on Baptist Press This Week – BP’s video interview series.
In the 45-minute interview, Blalock and Nelson talk about upcoming opportunities for state convention leaders to meet with the ARITF on March 28 and the need for extending the time for the ARITF to complete their work. But most of the time was spent discussing the decision to retain Guidepost Solutions to oversee the website.
“I think the whole convention agrees we want do all we can to prevent sexual abuse in our churches and to make our churches the safest place on earth for our families and children to hear and receive the Gospel of Jesus,” Blalock said.
Nelson said one of the most important ways churches can prevent sexual abuse is by keeping track of those who have abused in the past.
“Most sex offenders will offend again,” he said.
He believes churches are often viewed as “soft targets” for abusers, and a ministry check website will help churches prevent repeat offenses.
“The ministry check website is a simple, straightforward, robust and secure way for those churches to be able to do that,” Nelson said in the interview.
While SBC messengers affirmed the creation of the ARITF at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting and the creation of the ministry check website, there has been controversy surrounding the recommendation that Guidepost Solutions be the firm to build and maintain the site.
A gay pride month tweet in June 2022 caused many Southern Baptists to question the compatibility of Guidepost and the SBC. Blalock acknowledges the struggle and says the task force spent a significant amount of time discussing it with Guidepost.
“What happened was Guidepost moved toward us by creating a whole new division of people that actually share our convictions,” he said.
That division is called Faith Based Solutions and is led by Samantha Kilpatrick, an attorney who is also a graduate of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Honestly, for us, you sit across the table from Samantha Kilpatrick who leads this new division, and you hear her heart and how her testimony led to her conviction to go into law and then to prosecute sex criminals and then realize that she needed more to be able to help the folks who are surviving these crimes,” Blalock said.
The path for training to care for survivors led her to SEBTS, Blalock said, adding that in meeting her, “You could hear her heart and you would say she’s one of us.”
Blalock said they reviewed 18 firms and Guidepost was the only one that was able to deliver every criterion needed for the ministry check site.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee.)