BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Thousands of Southern Baptists are in Birmingham this week as the Southern Baptist Convention is taking on major issues such as sex abuse among the clergy and the elevation of women in church leadership.
Baptists from around the country say it’s time to tackle tough issues such as sex abuse within their churches. “One is an epidemic, but we are not like others in the past that have had hundreds, but we do have a concern,” Pastor Frank Cox of Georgia said.
The Southern Baptist Convention is expected to discuss training workers, background checks, and developing counseling for victims. “Begin to stop it. Make accountablity for it because there are people taking advantage because it has been so quiet for so long,” Pastor Jean Ward of Georgia said.
Some Southern Baptist women are expected to rally outside of the BJCC urging the creation of a clergy sex offender database. The role of women in the church is another issue many feel must be addressed, despite past concerns. “Jesus said women that were a part of the work he did they were right there along his side and if you look at our churches, women are taking a vital role,” Pastor James Gaddis of Georgia said.
Baptists say there has been hesitation to allow women to preach form the pulpit. Many are optimistic their numbers could grow again. “I don’t think you are going to see a rapid turn around, but I think we are plugging the dike,” Gaddis said.
Southern Baptists believe they have to increase women and minority representation to lure more members. It’s hoped tackling these issues will also help. The convention continues Wednesday.