SBTC initiative: child abuse prevention

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)--With the goal of providing "safety for children and integrity for ministries," the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has reached an agreement with Child Guard Systems of Richardson, Texas, to recognize it as a service provider to assist SBTC churches in this critical area.

"Each year nationwide, thousands of individuals and hundreds of ministries are devastated by child abuse," SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said. "The thorough and proactive approach Child Guard provides can be a resource to our churches that will help ensure safety for children, peace of mind for families, and integrity for ministries throughout Texas."

As a service provider, Child Guard will be linked from the convention's website -– www.sbtexas.com -- and recommended by the convention staff to all SBTC churches. Child Guard remains a private business but one that has been carefully examined by SBTC leaders and found to be an exemplary resource.

The approach of the company goes beyond the standard criminal background check, although this is an important part of the process. Churches entering into an agreement with Child Guard receive a customized training and testing program for their ministries. Staff members and volunteers receive online training, testing and certification to ensure they understand appropriate procedures for maintaining the safety of the minor children under their care. A criminal background check for each staff member and volunteer is included as a crucial part of the service.

"We looked at companies providing safety-related services to churches and found Child Guard to be the best choice for our convention," said Joe Davis, the SBTC's chief financial officer. "We strongly recommend that churches establish thorough and effective safety procedures for their own staff members and volunteers, whether they use Child Guard or not. At the very least, do a background check on everyone who works with children in your church."

"The safety of children, that is the bottom line," Richards said. "We're trying to help as we can, but the responsibility falls on individual churches. Only they have the authority to direct their own ministries. We hope our recommendation of this service provider will encourage churches to do more to keep kids safe and their own ministries reputable."

Although Southern Baptist churches have formed denominational entities at the local, state and national levels, the churches remain self-governing. Participation at various denominational levels is completely voluntary and the entities maintain no level of control over churches.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is a fellowship of more than 1,900 Southern Baptist churches in Texas. The convention was formed in 1998 and maintains denominational offices in Grapevine, Texas. More information is available at sbtexas.com.


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