Gateway Family,

You likely have seen stories in the news in recent weeks about the Southern Baptist Convention, particularly the issue of sexual abuse within it.  As a church connected with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), we want to be transparent in communicating what happened as well as in our response to the situation.


In recent years, news reports have surfaced indicating a long-standing problem of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches.  This serious problem was not unique to Southern Baptists, and tragically has happened in many settings.  However, in recent years, the Southern Baptist situation has come to the forefront.  Most recently, an independent investigation was conducted by Guidepost Solutions, looking at how SBC leadership responded to known sexual abuse in SBC churches.  That report was released in May and is publicly available.  It is heart-breaking as it shows many victims of abuse in different SBC churches.  It also reveals how leaders among the Executive Committee of the SBC were aware of abuse and abusers still serving in churches, but not acting on that knowledge.

To understand the sins revealed in that report, and how the investigation came about, realize that each year the churches in the SBC can send messengers to an annual meeting of the convention.  Those messengers elect convention leadership, approve the budgets, and influence the direction of the convention through resolutions made and approved by the messengers.  When that yearly meeting is not happening, the group known as the Executive Committee runs the business of the SBC.  Many of the issues in the news, and the major focus of the Guidepost investigation, involve how the Executive Committee handled awareness of abuse situations.

In response to the growing awareness of the sexual abuse situation in SBC churches, in 2021 the messengers from the SBC churches voted at the annual meeting to create a task force to investigate how the Executive Committee handled awareness of sexual abuse in the SBC.  Because the people from the churches (the messengers) control the convention, the convention leadership had to follow their directive.   Such is one of the great parts of the SBC – the convention is accountable to the churches, instead of the convention controlling the churches.  As such, a sexual abuse task force was formed, and they hired Guidepost Solutions to launch an independent, third-party investigation.  During this time, the leaders on the Executive Committee later named in that report all resigned.

At this year’s annual SBC meeting, the messengers responded well to that tragic report.  There was acknowledgment of sin, lament over what happened, and an affirmation of all the recommendations from Guidepost Solutions and the sexual abuse task force.  We are encouraged that the SBC messengers and new leadership recognize the sins committed, grieve over it, and are taking practical steps to address it, both in helping victims of abuse and in taking steps to seek to minimize these tragic situations from happening again.


We grieve over what has happened.  We grieve for the victims who were hurt in churches very similar to ours.  We grieve that some in SBC leadership cared more for protecting the organization than caring for people made in the image of God. 

We recognize that any abuse, including sexual abuse, is a heinous sin as it hurts a person made in the image of God.  God speaks clearly in Scripture about sexual sin as well as how we are to treat one another.  We affirm our commitment to the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture as it speaks to all of these issues.

Because we care deeply about protecting people here, we reaffirm the steps we already have been taking in vetting volunteers, doing background checks on all who work with minors, and utilizing surveillance cameras on the campus as a deterrent to abuse happening here.  By the grace of God, we are not aware of any sexual abuse situations at Gateway.  However, if you are aware of something that we do not know, please let us know, knowing that you will be met with grace and compassion.

We realize that with sin nature, any of us are susceptible to any sin.  Hence, we intentionally are working to grow in the culture of Gateway deeper life-on-life discipleship as we speak into each other’s lives to help each other pursue Christ, fight sin, and seek to live in a way that glorifies God.  We also intentionally are working to build a culture of accountability, especially among the leadership, where we seek to shine the light of the Gospel into the dark areas of sin. However, we cannot see everything, so please reach out to any of us with any concerns that you have, knowing that you will be heard and taken seriously.

As you hear of these issues within the SBC, let it be a call to pray for the victims who have been hurt, as well as a call to pray for wisdom for the leaders as they take steps to better protect people and address sin in the future.  Pray also for us at Gateway, that God would continue to protect all who gather here, and that God would grow in us a love for Him and one another that leads us to go deeper in discipleship with one another.  Finally, if you are one who has been affected by sexual abuse in your past, know that help is available both here and through other means as well for you.


Finally, we want you to understand our association with the Southern Baptist Convention.  At the core of this association, or any association we make, is the conviction that Baptist churches are autonomous.  That conviction held by us and the other SBC churches means that the convention has no authority over any church, other than choosing to dis-fellowship a church and stop receiving contributions if that church departs from the statement of faith (known as the Baptist Faith and Message 2000).  Rather, the SBC is a network of churches that choose to cooperate.  As such, no church is bound to remain in the SBC. 

At Gateway, we primarily have chosen to associate with the SBC in recent years because of the six seminaries, the International Mission Board, and the North American Mission Board, all of which are overseen and funded by the SBC.  We choose to partner together for the sake of missions and theological education, allowing us to do more together than we can do on our own. 

If you have any questions about the sexual abuse situation, the SBC, or Gateway, please let any of us on the elder team know. 

We love you all and are thankful to get to walk this journey of faith together.

Gateway’s Elder Team

Grady Smith     CJ Falcione             Greg Teal          Jeff Moody
Rick Steen        Seth Rhodebeck     William Foxx