Pastoral Statement on the SBC Sex Abuse Report

Dear Arrow Heights Family,

As many of you have undoubtedly heard, our Southern Baptist Convention has been recently rocked yet again by the scandal of sexual abuse. This is not the place to recount all that was revealed in the commissioned report that released a couple of weeks back, for one can easily read up on those details elsewhere. Rather, this is the time for prayer, and for us pastors to share our heart regarding the troubling disclosures that are making headlines, especially since some of the coverage has named Arrow Heights specifically.

First, know that our hearts are grieving. The Bible says, “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), and to read through the report is to see up close and personal how such lawlessness destroys lives, divides churches, and derails Christian witness in a world that so desperately needs the gospel. While some are pointing fingers or posturing politically, we urge all Southern Baptists and, indeed, upon all gospel-loving Christians to join us in praying corporately with the prophet Daniel, who said, “We have sinned and have committed iniquity, and done wickedly . . . O Lord, according to all your righteousness, let your anger and your fury turn away, because for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers . . . your people have become a reproach to all that are about us” (Dan. 9). We must first mourn the grossness of the sin so that we can eventually know the comfort of the Savior (Matt. 5:4), and so that we can help others, especially victims of such unspeakable abuse, find that same comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

Second, this is why we do background checks and child safety training. Our plan is to redouble our efforts to ensure that every man, woman, and child that comes through our doors feels safe, and is safe. Even apart from the horror stories coming out, we have discussions regularly about how to refine and improve our policies and procedures. We vow to remain ever-diligent to protect the flock, spiritually and physically. The precious souls we have been entrusted with, even the gospel message itself, demands as much. The tragic incident that transpired at Arrow Heights nearly thirty years ago, in which our church as a whole was found faultless, still haunts many in our congregation and community. That is what happens when Satan gains a foothold – he steals, kills, and destroys. A lot has changed at AHBC since the mid-90’s, and yet, our church’s name on that list should serve as a warning to us all, and as a reminder that Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Even in this dark season, let us pray that the world sees something peculiar about us – about the way we care for one another, and for the least of these – that they might see our good deeds and give glory to our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

Above all, we want to remind you of the life-giving promise of our Lord Jesus: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). No matter what happens in executive offices in OKC or Nashville, or at the Convention in Anaheim this summer, or in the news media, or anywhere else, we know beyond any doubt that Jesus reigns over every square inch of this world, and that He takes special care of His Bride. Of course, He never promised to build the American church, or the Southern Baptist church (and like many others we will be watching developments in Anaheim very closely in the effort to steward our missions giving as wisely and fruitfully as possible). But God’s chosen people, called out of darkness into His marvelous light, gathered into local fellowships – loved by the Father, equipped with the gospel of His Son, empowered by His Spirit – will be victorious, after all. So do not lose heart. Continue to pray, to serve, to give, to do your part to build Christ’s church right here at Arrow Heights and testify to His kingdom right here in Broken Arrow. Praise God for the ways He continues to bless us as we seek to bless those around us. Where else can we go? What else can we do? Jesus alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68), and He speaks so powerfully and clearly through the life and love, the practices and proclamation, of healthy churches. That’s what we pray we are, and what we are working to become, for God’s glory.

Join us this Sunday as we worship the Risen Savior who knows all that we need before we even ask. We will be taking time to pray specifically for the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Anaheim this coming week, June 12-15, asking God to work mightily among us, to humble us to the dust, that at the proper time He may lift us up, “for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Begin preparing your hearts even now to meet with the Lord, and with His people. Let us cast all our cares upon Him, for we know that He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).

In Christ,

Todd Cathey
Nathan Copeland
Rich Johnson
Charlie Townsend
Joshua White