State, The (Columbia, SC)
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH DID NOT HANDLE SITUATION CORRECTLY
In the article about the lawsuit First Baptist Church is facing (The State, May 26), one of the pastor's statements amazed and frightened me. Rev. Wendell Estep was quoted as saying, "Since I have been here, I don't think we have faced anything more maturely." Maturity means taking responsibility when necessary; being able to admit when you are wrong and asking for forgiveness. According to the article, none of this happened at First Baptist.
Parental complaints against John Hubner began in 1996, according to the article. Allegations of sexual abuse are always worth attending to in a serious way. Tad Wilson, former minister to students, went to Estep who sent him back to Hubner. Estep's advise was flippant, at best. "Tell him to leave them [the children] alone." Trusting the chain of command was cowardly and played right into a hierarchy making a mess of things.
Has anyone in leadership in this church admitted that they were wrong? All I read is how proud they are of their actions, when what appears to be happening is a cover-up. They are protecting the institution at all costs.
A final point about maturity has to do with the asking of forgiveness. Has this happened? Not according to the article. Has anyone in leadership gone to these two girls and their families and said, "We are truly sorry. We didn't take you seriously."
The new policy they've written allows the church to investigate itself with "investigating teams" and "response teams." With the mess the Catholic Church is in, we know an institution cannot investigate itself.
How many more children will have to be hurt before we (the church), will grow into maturity and be able to take responsibility, admit it when we're wrong and ask for forgiveness? When the survival of the institution wins out over the well-being of community, we are no longer the Body of Christ, we are just another institution.
AMY SANDER MONTANEZ