In the conversation, which was released March 1 on the ARITF website, Blalock, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Charleston, S.C., talks with Kilpatrick about her experience working with Guidepost.
Kilpatrick has a background in law, operating a private practice designed to advise, represent and consult abuse survivors navigating the criminal justice system.
She worked with Guidepost as a part of the organization’s investigation into alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims by the SBC Executive Committee, and was recently named to lead the organization’s newly established faith-based division.
“I was familiar with Guidepost’s work and had followed some of the investigations that they had done in the past, was very impressed with their work,” Kilpatrick said.
“To just see the professionalism, see the care and concern for this area of practice, both for survivors and for churches and ministries to get this right. I just feel like God just prepared the way for me to do it. I’m greatly humbled by it. I’m excited about it. I’m very passionate about it.”
Kilpatrick said Guidepost places a huge emphasis on the religious values of the client they’re working with.
“Guidepost has been doing this work for a while,” Kilpatrick said. “We do this work across all types of denominations and faith-based groups, but we’ve done a decent amount of work in the Orthodox and conservative evangelical communities.
“One of the things that we do, no matter where we’re working, is we try to really get in and understand both the polity of the system that we’re working in, but also the theological beliefs. How they work and how that may have implications in our work.”
The ARITF announced during the latest EC meeting its recommendation to the SBC Credentials Committee to utilize Guidepost to establish and maintain a Ministry Check database for those in the Convention who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.
The Credentials Committee and Guidepost are currently in contract negotiations regarding the database.
The Ministry Check website was one of two approved recommendations the ARITF was commissioned to accomplish by messengers to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
In the interview Kilpatrick shared with Blalock the considerations that go into such a database.
“This is a big project and it’s got a lot of different facets to it,” she said. “Some of those are just from a legal standard and a professional standard of just evaluating information that comes in and creating a standard and a process for how that information gets categorized for inclusion.
“Also making sure that there the proper protections are in place for survivors as we continue to receive reports through the hotline and what other avenues that might come in. Other experts at Guidepost are going to come alongside side me with this piece of just the privacy and security piece of hosting an offender database on the internet. There’s a lot to do around that.
“And then also making it user friendly. Making it something that Southern Baptists can use. Making it something that Southern Baptists can actually gain good information from. What we want to do is we want to prevent abuse by preventing an offender from working somewhere else where they would have access to children.”
Also a part of the conversation was Heather Evans, director of a counseling practice in Pennsylvania, who served as a consultant on the previous Sexual Abuse Task Force.
Evans agreed to assist the ARITF with its work, saying it is crucial to the mission of the local church.
“I’m here because I believe it’s worth it,” Evans said. “I believe it’s necessary. It’s worth it because the survivors are worth it. People made in the image of God are worth it. Truth and justice are worth it, because that’s really at the heart and mission of Jesus Christ.”
— Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.