The Role of the Local Baptist Association
The thirteen Baptist Associations around the country will each have their own procedures for offering support and guidance to churches that are faced with a safeguarding issue. They will not all operate in the same way. The first point of contact within the Association when the church needs help in responding to a safeguarding matter should be a Regional Minister.
The Regional Minister may not have the expertise to deal with all situations, but will be able to point the church in the direction of someone who can offer guidance to the church. Although the Baptist Union has appointed an adviser in safeguarding matters we are requesting that churches approach their Regional Minister in the first instance. Referrals to the Baptist Union’s safeguarding adviser should normally only be made through a Regional Minister.
The Regional Minister should always be contacted immediately if any concerns or allegations arise concerning the minister or pastor, whether or not the minister is on the Baptist Union’s accredited list of ministers. The Regional Minister will often take a lead in helping the church to respond to such a situation and may need to instigate formal disciplinary procedures if the minister concerned is an accredited minister.
The Regional Minister should always be informed if there is a statutory investigation of one of the members of the church or congregation or of one of the church’s youth workers relating to the welfare of children or young people. There are times when such allegations or investigations place a great deal of strain on the fellowship of a church and the Regional Minister may be able to offer support and guidance to the leaders of the church in responding in appropriate ways. It is more helpful for the Regional Minister to be contacted when the allegations first surface than to be brought in only when the church is in some measure of disarray. The Regional Minister should be informed even if the church is obtaining support and guidance from another organisation with regard to the particular safeguarding issue.