Helping care for the abused and abusers in Ky. Baptist churches

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) - One in four minors has dealt with the effects of abuse in some way, according to one Southern Baptist leader. 


The statistics aren’t much better for adults.

Brad Hambrick, pastor of counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, says one in five adults have faced abuse of some kind.


“This is real people, who were really hurt, and are attending real churches,” Hambrick said. “This isn’t a fabricated issue or a case of media bias.”


Hambrick spoke to a group of church leaders at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday with the goal of helping churches care for the abused and abusers. The event was sponsored by the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists and the Kentucky Baptist Convention.


Since late last summer Hambrick has been leading a team developing a curriculum on identifying and caring for abuse victims and abusers. The team’s members have a deep knowledge of abuse. Some of them are abuse survivors while others are professional care providers.


The group includes Rachel Denhollander, abuse survivor and attorney; Leslie Vernick, MSW focusing on destructive relationships; Chris Moles, pastor and certified biblical counseling focusing in batterer intervention; and Andrea Mumford, a police officer and the lead investigator in the Larry Nasser case; among others.


A series of 12 training sessions for church leaders is scheduled to be released in early June. The video-based curriculum will be available to churches at churchcares.com, according to Hambrick. He says the videos are a sampling of conversations church leaders need to be having in their churches.


“The integrity of the minister and the safety of churches is a huge issue when it comes to whether or not the church will have credibility in the community,” said Hambrick.


He was joined by a two Lexington police officers and a Lexington therapist for a discussion panel at the event on Tuesday.


Jeremiah Harville, a detective in the Lexington Police Department, said officers want to be a resource to churches. “Any time we’re asked to come, we’re going to come to answer questions,” he said.


Katherine Middleton, a licensed social worker and therapist at Lionheart Trauma Support Services, said, “Sometimes I don’t think people understand what trauma symptoms look like. We can help people understand how to recognize these symptoms.


“Having education on coping skills is very important. We can help you learn how to help people who may be facing panic attacks because of abuse,” she said.


Cornetta Harris, victims advocate at LPD, told the group, “We want to help provide information so people can help abuse victims reach out to authorities.”


Middleton said that while cases of adult abuse should be reported to local law enforcements, cases involving children should be reported to Child Protective Services.


Calling it both a civil act of duty and Christian act of love, Hambrick reminded the group when anyone has reasonable suspicion that a child is being harmed or neglected, they have a legal responsibility to call CPS.


He said churches can improve their care for victims of abuse by listening, grieving with the victims, learning when and how to act, and repenting when they fail to detect the occurrence of abuse. “It means the world to an abused person when church leaders own what they missed,” Hambrick said.


In addition to the upcoming resources at churchcares.com, Hambrick invited the group to attend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention national conference in October which will focus on abuse.

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