The International Mission Board(IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention(SBC) has set up a new position to prevent and respond to sexual abuse, the Christian Post reported on February 18.
Paul Cheatwood, CEO of the IMB, announced in Richmond, Virginia, on January 30 at a plenary meeting of the IMB board of directors in Riverside, California, that he had appointed Somer Nowak, an education consultant and forensic counselor, as the head of prevention and response at the IMB. Nowak said in an interview with CP on Monday that she first got to know the administrator of prevention and abuse for the first time last year and wanted to fight for issues related to sexual abuse by the IMB.
Nowak is currently spending her first week as an administrator to meet with employees involved in her work and review earlier recommendations on how to handle the IMB's alleged sexual abuse.
She said: "I have always been passionate about the safety and happiness of children and their families, and this position is not only an opportunity to do so, but also an opportunity to serve the people of the company."
Nowak previously served as an adviser to the Cherokee County Board of Education and as an education consultant for child care in Cherokee County, central Alabama.
IMB also employed Gray Plant Mooty (GPM), an outside company (what do you mean by this?) based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to implement its review of areas and standards that need to be improved.
In an examination update released last May, the GPM concluded that despite some improvements, "we have identified many important concerns regarding the IMB's handling of past cases."
"Despite improvements over time, IMB's current policies and procedures fall short of modern best practice standards," GPM said.
With those concerns in mind, the GPM concluded that IMB's prevention and response efforts would be greatly improved by regular education with experts with expertise in child safety and criminal information approaches to prevent and respond to IMB's child abuse and sexual harassment (including assault).
When asked by the CP what one of the biggest challenges Nowak sees, she replied, "It's about getting all the employees of a large missionary group to be trained on this issue."
"I think our biggest challenge is to be well-trained and educated on these subjects. But we are committed to this task and it is important to move forward in the areas of safety and security," he added.