Send Relief reaffirms original intent of SBC abuse response funds

By Send Relief Staff

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — In a statement posted on Wednesday, Feb. 21, Send Relief leaders reaffirmed the relief organization’s commitment, announced in June 2022, to provide up to $3 million in funds for the Southern Baptist Convention’s efforts in sexual abuse prevention and response and compassionate care for survivors, but clarified the funds would not be used to fund an organization outside the SBC.

As originally reported in June 2022, Send Relief committed $3 million that the SBC Executive Committee estimated was necessary to carry out abuse prevention and response on behalf of the convention. The resources come from Send Relief undesignated funds, not from Cooperative Program donations or gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® or Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®.

“While Send Relief has been privileged to make funds available to the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) to help care for survivors and assist churches in efforts to prevent abuse, those funds have never been committed to help form a separate organization outside the SBC, such as the Abuse Response Commission (ARC) [proposed during the Executive Committee’s Feb. 19-20 meeting],” the statement said.

Send Relief is Southern Baptists’ compassion ministry, a collaboration between the International Mission Board, led by Paul Chitwood, and the North American Mission Board, led by Kevin Ezell. The focus on abuse prevention and response aligns with Send Relief’s pillar to protect children and families. Bryant Wright, Send Relief’s president, joined Chitwood and Ezell in the statement.

The three leaders stated they are grateful for the work of the SBC’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) and continue to be supportive of efforts to strengthen abuse prevention and response within the Southern Baptist Convention.

“While we share a desire to support abuse reforms, many details remain unclear about the proposed ARC’s mission, legal structure, leadership, and accountability,” Send Relief leaders stated. “Though Send Relief funds are not available for a non-SBC organization, they do remain available to the ARITF for its assigned work within the SBC.”

Chitwood pledged in May 2019 to lead the SBC in abuse prevention and response. Chitwood, Ezell and Wright urge members of churches affiliated with the SBC to diligently demand the highest standards in response to incidents of sexual abuse, including seeking trauma-informed care for victims.

The leaders encourage anyone who has been a victim of abuse by any convention organization’s personnel or others affiliated with any organization within the convention to report it to authorities.

“When we say at Send Relief that our mission is to provide help and hope in Jesus’ name, we absolutely include the help and hope needed to prevent abuse in the SBC, to respond to abuse in the SBC, and to care for survivors affected by abuse in the SBC,” the Send Relief leaders concluded.

Published February 21, 2024

Send Relief Staff