Executive board renews commitment to sexual abuse prevention training for churches


DALLAS—During the February meeting of the Executive Board, members voted to approve the allocation of $100,000 from the J.K. Wadley Endowment Fund to continue providing to churches sexual abuse prevention training and resources through a relationship with MinistrySafe. Executive Director David Hardage addressed the recent reports on sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.

“We were aware and troubled when the reports came out,” Hardage said. “But, I was encouraged that three years ago, we began our relationship with MinistrySafe. We were out there recognizing a problem and addressing it.”

Katie Swafford, director of Counseling Services, reported that 1,181 individuals from 177 Texas Baptists churches, either through a live event or online, have been trained in sexual abuse prevention since the relationship began with MinistrySafe in 2016. The allocation of additional funds will allow churches to continue accessing sexual abuse prevention resources for three additional years.  

During the Monday evening session, Dave Odom, executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, presented the “Traditioned Innovation Award” to Robert Rueda, director of the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. The award, which was one of three presented around the country, recognizes innovative ministries who help the church see that exciting things are happening.

“The BSM is very exciting,” said Odom, referencing a recent project he observed which brought students and donors together for a weekend collaboration of dreaming and investing in the future of the Valley. “Those students transformed the people who came to minister to them. It had this tremendous multiplying effect. That probably happens in everything this BSM does. That’s the reason we are presenting this award—for their capacity to encourage this sort of witness to the world.”

President Michael Evans addressed the board on Tuesday morning, sharing from John 12 about men asking to meet Jesus. Rather than questioning the background of individuals or their motivations, Evans encouraged Texas Baptists to be authentic and allow others to see Jesus.

“There’s power in who you are – in your language groups, your places around the state.

Introduce them to Jesus,” Evans said.

Additional business included the approval of a recommendation by Ward Hayes, chair of the Finance Committee, for the provision of a one-time bonus to BGCT staff on June 15, 2019, of up to $1.2 million total in compensation and payroll taxes. The bonus is designed to ease the transition for staff from 24 to 26 paychecks per year, which is one in a series of work and ministry enhancements being rolled out in 2019.

In addition to renewing funding for MinistrySafe, additional allocations from the earnings of the J.K. Wadley Endowment Fund were approved to support College Ministries, Western Heritage, and Intercultural Ministries for a total of $552,000.

Jill Larsen, treasurer and CFO, shared the 2018 budget report with gifts to the Cooperative Program for Texas totaling $28.2 million at year end, which was 95.2% of the budget and 98.6% of gifts from Dec. 31, 2017. Additional offerings received included $10.5 million to the Southern Baptist Convention, $1.1 million to Texas Baptists Worldwide; and $200,000 in other gifts, for an overall total of $40 million.

Bob Temple, chair of the Administration Support Committee, brought a recommendation to approve an amendment to the BGCT 403(b) plan with GuideStone Financial Resources to unbundle the fees paid by participants to the plan. The motion was passed by the board.

The board approved nominations to vacancies on several affiliated boards, councils, and committees, including:

  • Baptist Student Ministries Council: Linda Templin - First Baptist Church, Arlington, TX
  • Connections Council: Leonard Hatcher - Oasis Baptist Church, Dallas, TX
  • Western Heritage Council: Nicholas Swinford - Cross Brand Cowboy Church, Tyler, TX
  • Christian Life Commission: Ted Woods - Living Word Fellowship Church, Dallas, TX
  • Chaplaincy Endorsement Council: Bruce Lampert - Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Abilene, TX
  • Missions Funding Council: Laura Edmondson - First Baptist Church, Saginaw, TX
  • Baptist University of the Americas Board of Trustees: Dean Dickens - South Garland Baptist Church, Garland, TX; Rhoda Gonzales - North Dallas Family Church, Dallas, TX; Luis Campos -  South Main Baptist Church, Houston, TX; Van Christian - First Baptist Church, Comanche, TX; Vinson Smith - South Main Baptist Church, Houston, TX
  • Houston Baptist University Board of Trustees: Clois Smith - Tallowood Baptist Church, Houston, TX
  • San Marcos Baptist Academy Board of Trustees: Danny Dawdy - First Baptist Church, Marble Falls, TX; Dorothy Renfrow - First Baptist Church, San Marcos, TX; Steven Gaither - First Baptist Church, Gonzales, TX
  • Wayland Baptist University Board of Trustees: Sarah (Sally) Eaves - First Baptist Church, Plainview, TX
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Board of Trustees: Betty Burns - First Baptist Church, Plano, TX

The board also approved vacancies for the Executive Board to serve for the remainder of the year. These individuals will need to be re-elected at the Annual Meeting in November.

  • Executive Board Nominations: Tommy Johnston - First Baptist Church, Sulphur Springs, TX; Bobby Bressman - First Baptist Church, Center, TX; Chris Cook - Westbury Baptist Church, Houston, TX; Randy Bigbee - First Baptist Church, Chappell Hill, TX; Frank Urias - Living Stone Baptist Church, New Braunfels, TX

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