Pastor Fundraises to Send Abuse Victims to SBC

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COLUMBIA, Md. — Keith Myer, the pastor of Harvest Baptist Church, Salisbury, and Chairman of BCM/D’s Sexual Abuse Task Force, started a GoFundMe page called “Help Survivors Get to NOLA,” with the goal of raising $12,000 to transport sexual abuse survivors to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting next month.  As of May 23, Myer has already raised over $16,000. The funds will be used to provide travel, lodging, and food costs for those for whom the trip costs would be prohibitive.

Myer said the funding wasn’t an original idea. Talking about the GoFundMe campaign on the podcast “Pocket Pulpit,” Myer said, “Last year, a pastor had organized a fundraiser to help some of the survivors advocating for change; somebody reached out and asked if I would do it this year.” So he did. And people responded.

As Chairman of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) Sexual Abuse Task Force, Myer has a passion to protect the vulnerable and a heart for victims. “As a young pastor, I was unprepared to minister to people who had been traumatized. Through the years, I’ve had to educate leaders in churches who believed that protecting the vulnerable was important, but they struggled to understand the effects of abuse or why a church needed a consistent protection policy. Some churches scoff at the expense, effort, or demands of training and simply refuse to take any steps at all. Some pastors know they need to do something, but they don’t know what to do.”

During the June 2022 Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, California, Myer moved that a day be added to the SBC Calendar to raise awareness of “abuse of any kind.” That motion was carried and acted upon. The first Caring Well Sunday will be September 24.

The culture is changing, Myer said. He told how survivors who attended the annual meeting two years ago shared with him that some pastors wouldn’t talk to them or said rude things, leaving them discouraged and anxious. Last year, in Anneheim, the environment was much different. Survivors told Myer that attendees were happy to see them and actually told them, “We’re glad you’re here.” Myer said, “It was encouraging and healing for them. They said, ‘Finally, we’ve worked and cried and screamed and begged for someone to do something, and all of it seems like it’s finally going to amount to something.’ What an opportunity to be a part of that!”

Myer emphasized that the survivors will not have a platform, no microphone in front of them, but they’ll be there to talk to people. “Last year, a few were outside handing out teal ribbons and brochures. Some had put up a booth. It’s just kind of an ‘on the ground’ organic thing.”

Feature photo licensed Photo by Sam Evans, courtesy of The Baptist Paper