OPINION: Thank you for speaking up for Sunrise

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It’s been said you don’t know how many friends you have until you really need them. True friends step up when they see their friend going through a challenging time.

Sunrise Children’s Services has faced a challenging time recently as their efforts to renew their contract as a foster care provider have been blocked by the state. Sunrise appears to be facing discrimination from the state due to their deeply help Christian convictions.

Sunrise Children’s Services has ministered to needy, neglected, and abused children in Kentucky, from a James 1:27 motivation, for over 150 years. From the time the ladies at Walnut Street Baptist Church received a burden for orphan care, through the days they ministered under the name of Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, up until this present day, they have lovingly served children by sacrificing for them in the name of Jesus.

Today, they are told to either give up their religious convictions or give up their ministry to children. Sunrise will do neither.

The great news is that Kentuckians far and wide are standing with them. Friends of Sunrise are speaking up on behalf of the state’s largest private provider of residential childcare services. Here are some of the loudest voices:

  1. Kentucky’s Constitutional Office holders: On May 17, five of Kentucky’s constitutional officers sent a letter to Governor Beshear and Cabinet Secretary Friedlander urging them to renew the contract with sunrise. The letter stated in clear terms that the actions by the state to walk away from Sunrise runs contrary to the interest of children and contrary to state and federal law.

  2. Kentucky’s Senate Majority Caucus: The entire group of Senate Republicans spoke up for Sunrise. They called Sunrise Children’s Services a perennial partner for decades and said no state should give up on a partner like Sunrise.

  3. Kentucky’s House Majority Caucus: The super-majority used their voice for Sunrise. They asked the state to continue in the partnership and not risk the care provided to hundreds Kentucky’s children. Kentucky needs more partners like Sunrise, not fewer.

  4. Friends of Sunrise: In recent days, Sunrise Children’s Services and their President, Dale Suttles, have received support from The Family Foundation of Kentucky, The Commonwealth Policy Center of Kentucky, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of The Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler, and numerous others. These leaders of faith-based organizations know all too well that if a governing administration can bully a group like Sunrise and try to force them out of their deeply held religious beliefs, they can do the same for other Christian groups and organizations.

  5. Kentucky Baptists: Everywhere I go, Kentucky Baptists are playing the video produced by the KBC Mission Board Staff urging Kentucky Baptists to call or email Governor Beshear, urging him to renew the contract with Sunrise. If the anecdotal evidence I hear almost daily means anything, then we can rest assured that the phone in Frankfort, as well as the email server, is being bombarded with correspondence on behalf of Sunrise. Kentucky Baptists love Sunrise and want to be assured they can minister to children unhindered.


Where do we go from here?


First, keep praying for Sunrise. The best thing we can do for them is to approach the throne of grace on their behalf.

Second, continue to give to support their ministry. Part of the operating budget from Sunrise Children’s Services comes from the Cooperative Program giving of Kentucky Baptists and generous donors across the state.

Third, continue to express vocal support on their behalf. Thank your elected officials for standing with them or urge them to do so.


For the third year in a row, Kentucky leads the nation in the number of reported child abuse cases. This is not the time for Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary Friedlander of the Cabinet for Family and Health Services to walk away from Sunrise.

This is the time for them to find a way to renew the contract.

Todd Gray is the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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