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When we read about abuse that happens to someone else, somewhere else, we can be empathetic. We can be moved to action by the plights of others; we can become more aware, make more thoughtful choices.

But when abuse hits home, it’s something else. Our reaction is visceral, our reality reordered.

The recent revelations about the abuses in Southern Baptist churches have hit pretty close to home for me. One of the main churches identified in the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News series is a church where I used to be a member. I was even once interviewed for a staff position there. Reading about the convention’s utter lack of willingness to address what was a known problem makes me angry and sick.

But my own experience is nothing compared to the experiences of those who have endured sexual abuse. Or abuse of any kind, for that matter.

For as long as I’ve been allowed to provide a measure of leadership at Grace, we’ve been committed to do everything possible to prevent such abuses from happening here. I wish I could say with 100% certainty that they never will, but such guarantees are impossible to implement in a broken world. What I can promise is that, although we already have a healthy system for preventing such abuses and identifying abuse when it happens, we’re diligently refining and strengthening what’s already in place and asking for help in making it stronger. We’re committed in our systems, our practices, our culture and our ethos to identifying and resisting any abuses of power.

We are equally committed to being a safe, healing and empowering place for those who have suffered abuse, the marginalized and the powerless. It’s not enough just to resist evil and sickness; we also need to cultivate righteousness and health.

We’re reviewing all of our policies and practices to make sure we’re doing everything possible to accomplish both of these objectives. We welcome any and all assistance, insight and input during this process.

Thank you,

John Ray

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