LETTER: Arkadelphia pastors respond to SBC scandal

Dear friends, 

You may have read reports of scandal within the Southern Baptist Convention (the national organization of Southern Baptist Churches). As pastors of Southern Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, we wanted to address the issue briefly. Recently news emerged that within the SBC, there had been reports of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse among pastors, staff, and lay leaders throughout the country over the last two decades. 

Last year, the convention (the convention is made up of members from local churches who gather once a year to vote on matters of the denomination) voted to have a third party (Guidepost Solutions) investigate everything from the top down.  What became clear was that at an organizational level victims of abuse were not able to get the help they needed. In addition, they were ignored and often intimidated into silence and forced to look for help in other areas.  Most of the abusers were caught and convicted but not without considerable added trauma to the victims from the lack of concern on the part of those in authority.  The issue facing the denomination is repeated stonewalling and ignoring of the testimony of survivors of abuse.    

As a result of the report, a list of abusers has been released to the public. In addition, several other measures are being recommended to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. The stories of abuse emerging from survivors are painful to hear — but we must listen. Only as we understand how devastating these actions were can true repentance and course correction occur.  

As churches connected to the SBC, we are appalled and disgusted by the report’s findings. However, while exposing sin is painful, it is necessary for healing and repentance. This sort of sin cannot be allowed to continue in our denomination. We want you to know that, as SBC churches of Arkadelphia, we stand on the side of justice and pray for their repentance as just and lawful consequences are applied to each situation. 

But most of all, we pray for God’s love and care for those wounded within our denomination. Churches should be the safest places on the planet, but unfortunately that is not always the case. However, no church and no pastor should ever cover up abuse to protect someone while those who are abused are left to suffer alone.  Our prayers are with the victims and their families. Today, we commit to making our churches even safer places for people to meet Jesus and grow in his likeness. 

If you are being abused or if you suspect abuse of any kind, please notify the proper authorities. 

Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline


National Domestic Violence Hotline



SBC Pastors of Arkadelphia

Craig Seals
Pastor, Park Hill Baptist Church, Arkadelphia

Louie Heard
Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Arkadelphia

Greg Lathem
Pastor, Third Street Baptist Church, Arkadelphia

Joe Burt
Associational Missionary of Red River Baptist Association

Jimmy Darby
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia

Stan Rogers
Pastor, Mount Olive, Arkadelphia

Ray Franklin
Pastor, Mount Zion, Arkadelphia

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