My experience at Grace Baptist Church
I was a “bus kid”, a public school student who rode the church bus on my own free will. I wasn’t raised in the church like others, but I was there for many years by choice. I attended Sunday services the majority of 14 years or so, beginning at age 12. I met many wonderful people along the way, I feel that’s important to say. Some of these people are still my closest friends and many have changed my whole life.. but throughout the years I witnessed a few things..
- As a young teen (14) I had a college student (bus worker) communicate with me in inappropriate ways. Essentially a relationship without the title. Not just on the bus, but all week through explicit text messages and photos. This went on for over a year. Of course this had to be kept a secret.
- I once got on the empty bus after an church activity to find a college student bus worker making out with a public high school teen on the back seats.
- I have a family member who was in a secret relationship with a college student. They came to my family members house over the summer many times and spent the night. They met on the church bus when my family member was a “bus teen”.
I have strongly suspected at least 2 other relationships / involvements between bus workers and bus teens over the years.
- Our bus routes went on an activity and went swimming. There was 9-10 adults supervising nearly 50 kids who were in and out of the water. Suddenly we realize a 6 year old is face down. They retrieve her from the water and attempt to resuscitate but failed and she passed away.. I was told that the funeral was paid for by the church and possibly a small settlement. But if it had been properly supervised it wouldn’t have happened! This is a child’s life we’re talking about.
- On another bus activity, we went sledding. They decided to use a removed car hood as a sled. The bus captain and multiple children went down the hill on it, crashing and injuring many. This was after the first accident.. once again, not enough proper guidelines being practiced.
These situations could have been prevented had the church provided proper supervision. No single individual is responsible for these happenings but there should be rules in place to prevent these incidents. The leadership needs to protect these teenagers and children both from sexual and physical harm.
At Grace, I was taught of all the “worldly things” that were evil.. I was convinced that my family, my friends, my school, basically everyone I knew was on the path to hell and it was my job to be the perfect example and lead them all to Christ with a special prayer. I essentially was turned against my whole support system, because they weren’t pure. I was separated from the “Christian school kids” in the earlier years. They sat in separate sections and had their own Sunday school classes. I was taught to obey men, that women couldn’t “preach” or “lead” unless it was only to other women, and that it is our job to never dress in a way that attracts a mans attention...
I didn’t go to Jenkins about anything I witnessed- but I never felt I should or could. I went there nearly every Sunday for almost 13 years! I knew MANY of the people in the church including his children and I shook Jenkins hand every Sunday, and he smiled and greeted but I guarantee he doesn’t even know my name. How could I say anything? Why would he take my word over someone he knew? He wouldn’t. I knew other girls who reported things to teachers and were told they were drawing the attention to themselves with their clothes.. etc.. I thought I’d be told it was my fault, or the other bus teens fault, because we weren’t following the rules and we were “asking for it.” Children need to feel safe.. they need to know they can report if something is happening, they need to know that they will be believed and the proper procedures need to take place to protect that child immediately. Grace Baptist has failed to do this time and time again.