Georgia Foothills Presbytery recently submitted an overture that would move the denomination to reaffirm its commitment to protecting children in its churches from sexual abuse.

“The troubling reality is that many in the PCA don’t think this happens in PCA churches. Yet this is a PCA problem,” explains teaching elder Mike Sloan, author of the overture.

The proposed overture recommends that all churches become more informed about the realities of child sexual abuse and put in practice safeguards such as screening staff and volunteers, training them in child protection, and actively maintaining child-protection policies. The overture also reminds leaders of the need to report any child sexual-abuse cases to the civil authorities as well as to use their influence to encourage congregation members to expose any dangerous people or situations.

“We tend to think if I am not an abuser I am not part of the problem,” Sloan says. “However, what we have learned about the reality of abuse is that it is not only those who abuse who have culpability, but also those who stand by and do not proactively take the responsible measures needed to protect vulnerable children. … Many PCA churches have handled such incidents by not calling the civil authorities. Almost inevitably this perpetuates the cycle of abuse because the offender either remains in the church without proper accountability or moves on to another church.”

Finally, the overture recommends that all agencies and committees of the General Assembly review their policies, procedures, and practices in the area of child protection.

“There needs to be openness and accountability just like we would insist on with those who handle counting the church offering. Many of our churches are far behind on this mindset, and this is tragic because our children are so much more valuable than our money. The prayer of those who have contributed to this statement is that church leaders will resolve to lead in protecting children who are so vulnerable.”

To read the overture, please click here.