Meridian church adopts background check program

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Officials at Northcrest Baptist Church in Meridian decided themselves to make sure no sex offenders work or volunteer at their church.

In the month since Northcrest began the program, nothing has shown up.

Northcrest’s minister of education, Steve Coleman, says it’s all about being proactive.

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“You never know. You hire a staff member that has a history of being a sexual offender or a molester, that would do incredible damage to your church,” said Coleman.

Northcrest requires all new personnel working with youth to undergo two types of background checks. The first is a nationwide criminal check, The second is a guardian sex offender check.

Northcrest has a membership of 1,800. With several youth ministries and a daycare center, children are a priority.

Coleman said sex offenses can happen in any environment.

“Nowadays, it seems like it happens in all walks of life and everywhere,” said Coleman. “And when we think about our pre-schoolers and our children and our teenagers, we want to be careful that they are in a very safe environment.”

Coleman said the members at Northcrest are very receptive to the idea of sex offender background checks. These checks can get expensive, reaching into the thousands of dollars for this church with a staff of 200.

Coleman said most of them have volunteered to pay for it out of their own pockets.

“I would encourage and hope that other churches are doing the same for their staff, their pastors, and for their members,” Coleman said.