In February 2019, the Houston Chronicle published a heartbreaking and important article, revealing sexual abuse that spanned decades in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). As terrible as the stories are, it is another layer of tragedy to see church leaders shaming victims, enabling abusers, and covering up the truth in an effort to protect the reputation of the church. All abuse is horrifying and sinful, but using the name of Jesus to deceive and prey upon the vulnerable is especially depraved. Equally disturbing is how people have used gospel ministry to cover up what should be exposed.
We are deeply thankful for the bravery and strength of the survivors who, often in the face of opposition, shed light on the sin that was spreading in the darkness. Instead of fearing the light, the church should welcome it so that the truth can be revealed.
Because these tragedies could happen anywhere, including in our own church body, the pastors of Veritas Community Church unequivocally condemn and oppose all types of abuse. We are committed to doing all that we can to prevent abuse and protect those who are under our care.
Sexual abuse is not only a sin; it is a crime. Therefore, we encourage victims to know their rights and to pursue legal justice in both criminal and civil arenas. In addition to reporting abuse to church leadership, we encourage you to also report cases to the police. You can access the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). Its parent organization, RAINN, maintains a database of state laws that can help you to understand your rights.
We are committed to preventing abuse and pursuing justice in our own church body. At Veritas we hold to the following policies to ensure this end:
- All staff are subjected to criminal background checks and references are called.
- All volunteers who work with children are subjected to criminal background check and references are called.
- All staff and volunteers who work with children must review and agree to childcare safeguarding guides that equip them to identify signs of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment. These guides also instruct staff and volunteers on how to report abuse.
- All staff agree to an anti-sexual harassment policy that defines harassment and provides clear direction for reporting harassment.
- All interactions with children and youth are required to be observable and interruptible. No counseling with minors occurs in a one-on-one, unobservable context.
- All accusations of abuse are taken seriously and investigated.
While policies and practices are an important step toward preventing abuse, they alone are not sufficient. We are also committed to teaching people about their value being made in the image of God. We encourage parents to talk to their children, in age-appropriate ways, about how God created their bodies for his glory. The book God Made All of Me by Justin S. Holcomb is helpful to beginning this conversation.
By enforcing safeguards and teaching children their value, we can not only decrease the likelihood of abuse, we can also empower victims to report abuse against them without shame.
At Veritas we are committed to being a city on a hill that proclaims and walks in the light of the gospel. If you or anyone in your family has suffered abuse at any time, we urge you to reach out to a pastor, staff, or community group leader you trust. As pastors, we desire to hold ourselves accountable to God, the laws of this land, and to the people who call Veritas home. We strive to care for and protect all who would ever come to Veritas to hear the gospel and follow our Savior. We are here to pray, listen, and care for you however we can.
from the pastors at Veritas Community Church