Shining light on Baptist clergy sex abuse  
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Nov. 2004   My attorney and I meet in Dallas with three leaders from the BGCT and with Stephen Wakefield, acting as attorney for FBCFB (although he is also the BGCT's own long-time attorney). Even though we fly at our own expense to meet in their city, and even though the meeting was rescheduled to accomodate the church, not a single deacon or minister of FBCFB even bothers to show up.

  When church leaders will not even meet with a victim who reports a minister's abuse, why should anyone believe they will do anything to protect others?

BGCT leaders inform me that they have placed Gilmore’s name in their file of clergy abusers. I request that the BGCT amend its "Broken Trust" booklet so as to remind churches of the obligation to report to civil authorities whenever an allegation involves a minor and that they also put this reminder on their website. I make the request for a symbolic gesture more specific by suggesting a publicly-accessible stone labyrinth set in a small meditation garden, with a plaque saying:

“Dedicated in prayer for victims of clergy sex abuse
and in honor of their efforts to reclaim life and faith.”

I am attempting to provide them with the possibility of doing something positive while reaching out to other victims. My attorney and I leave the meeting with the understanding that, even if the church refuses, the BGCT itself will go forward with making the labyrinth. It was as clear as “Yes, ma’am.” I am elated. The next day I go out to scout a potential labyrinth location. (At this time, I do not realize that Gilmore is still working as a minister.)

Music minister James Moore is removed from the SBC’s online database of “ministers.” Why? Do they think they can make Moore a non-minister simply by removing him from the database?

  Was Gilmore also removed from the database at some prior time? Is this why there is no record of him? Removing a minister from the database would certainly make the minister more difficult to locate, and would also make it more difficult to warn others.

Dec. 2004   BGCT director Jan Daehnert sends written confirmation that the BGCT has placed Gilmore’s name in its file of clergy abusers. (This written confirmation is the one decent thing that any Baptist leader did for me.) By published policy, the BGCT places a minister’s name in that file only if a report of ministerial sexual abuse is made BY A CHURCH (a mere victim’s report isn’t enough) and only if there is a confession, a conviction, or “substantial evidence that the abuse took place.” Daehnert’s confirmation shows that he sent copies to other BGCT leaders, Sonny Spurger and David Nabors.

The BGCT puts information on its website about its file of clergy sex abusers, and consistent with my request, it reminds churches of the obligation to report to civil authorities if a minor is involved. Of course, this is nothing more than what the law requires.

early Feb.05  I have a series of phone calls and email correspondence with BGCT leaders Jan Daehnert and Sonny Spurger. They repeatedly confirm that they are "working on" my request for a dedicated labyrinth and making "headway."

    Did the BGCT ever actually intend to make a gesture of caring for clergy abuse victims or were they just stringing me along about the dedicated labyrinth as a way to keep me quiet? Stringing victims along doesn't do anything to protect others.

I request again that the BGCT assist me with counseling. Spurger's excuse for why the BGCT doesn't assist me with counseling is to state his view that "the church has some real responsibility here." So, although the BGCT has a written policy of providing counseling to clergy perpetrators, and the funding with which to do it, the BGCT leaves clergy abuse victims to try to obtain counseling assistance by haggling with recalcitrant churches. And even though the BGCT purports to say that the church should bear "responsibility," the BGCT's deeds do not promote that responsibility. Instead, the BGCT's "guidance" to the church was the referral to a lawyer with a track record for bullying victims who dare to report clergy abuse.

  The lack of counseling assistance for victims means that it will take much longer for victims to learn to set aside their shame and self-blame. As long as a victim remains mired in the psychological damage from the abuse, the victim is unlikely to speak of the abuse.

late Feb. 05  I learn that Gilmore was a children’s minister at a Florida mega-church headed by recent past-president of the Florida Baptist Convention, Dwayne Mercer. I am able to make a positive identification because his photo was on the church’s website.

  If I could find him at a mega-church in Florida, why couldn’t the SBC? Why couldn't the BGCT? Why couldn't the Farmers Branch church? Did anyone even try? If it’s left up to clergy abuse survivors to track their perpetrators, then perps will usually stay hidden.

We obtain a recording of Gilmore delivering a sermon to still another Florida church in which he specifically tells the congregation that he has “come here to work with you in the area of children’s ministry.” The sermon was delivered October 3, 2004 – several months after my July 6, 2004 report. Thus, despite my easily substantiated report, no one stopped Gilmore from continuing in children’s ministry. He also talks about his “counseling” work." I worry about whoever he "counsels," and I am physically sick upon hearing his voice talking about how “God wants us to live according to faith.” I also learn that he is working at this church as a “consulting” minister rather than an on-staff minister.

   Is the switch to a consulting position part of an attempt to hide him?

I learn that, prior to moving to Florida, Gilmore spent many years as a children’s minister at the very prominent First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, which is headed by two-term Southern Baptist president Charles Stanley.

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