Monday, December 5, 2016

"Is Covering Up Abuse Authentic Manhood?"- a victim of Rick Trotter from Fellowship Memphis speaks out

J.B. Martinez shared her story here and expressed disappointment that Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis is hosting a women's luncheon on Tuesday, December 6 with guest speaker John Bryson, lead pastor at Fellowship Memphis.
When allegations of Rick Trotter’s criminal activity at his new place of employment had surfaced back in August of 2016, I was told by another victim that John Bryson and Hamp Holcomb had instructed she and I not to talk to reporters investigating the allegations. They said not to answer the phone when reporters called. They would handle making a statement. This former Fellowship Memphis employee said Holcomb and Bryson wanted to “protect” the victims from the media.
I feel terrible guilt about not going to the police myself, taking their word that it was being handled and that they had actually gone to the authorities when Rick was originally caught by the corrupt and criminally negligent leadership and staff and Fellowship Memphis. I should have been screaming it from the roof tops 5 years ago. I am convinced I could have prevented hundreds or thousands of others from being exploited.
I have written about Fellowship Memphis and Rick Trotter here and here.

I applaud J.B.'s courage in sharing her story and breaking the silence. I proudly stand with her from Texas. I am glad to help support J.B. and other survivors that have reached out to me over the years. I count it a privilege to share their stories and to do what I can to support abuse survivors and help protect kids near and far from me. Protecting kids should be all of our business.

I received an email today from Leah H.. This is her email in its entirety.

Hi Amy,

    I recently came across your blog and social media sites while doing some research. A few things stood out to me, and I wanted to discuss those things with you. It seems like you spend a lot of time at your computer, so I figured emailing you would be best. 

    From what I've gathered through my own experiences so far, imperfect people make up the majority of people in churches. You know why Jesus had to come here in the first place, right? I've never been to, or been a part of, a church where there wasn't a past rape/infidelity scandal. You shouldn't be so surprised when you discover this. People give in to their flesh everyday. I've seen this situation dealt with the right way, and also the wrong way. Unfortunately, many times churches try to cover themselves instead of people, which I don't stand for. It's also clear that you find most of your information on the internet, but you lack information on all the real life conversations, pain, counseling, apologies, and grace that goes on behind closed doors. Yes, you have access to the sex offender lists as well as their victims online, but you don't know these people, their hearts, or their entire stories (on both sides). You seem to think that you're giving a voice to the victims in these situations, but it seems like you need a reminder that you literally have nothing to do with them or their lives, whatsoever. They have family, friends, counselors and mentors that they have walked through these incidents with. These situations are already so painful and it seems like you just want to add fuel to the fire. It's also a little creepy that you live in Texas and you've made a hobby out of making people's lives more difficult in cities that are hours away from you (that again, you have nothing to do with). The women and victims in these situations don't need a random woman on twitter or a blog outing their stories..they need love and counseling and reassurance of their worth. As an advocate for children and families in difficult situations (I also have a degree for it) I'm all about helping people and providing a voice for them in these situations, but it seems to me like you're more into gossip and making their lives harder while thriving on the drama of it all. And on the other side of things, you need to be mindful of the families of the rapists, sex offenders, and men your after. Yes, they need major accountability, but these people have families, and they also have kids on social media since it's 2016. So where you think you're helping the victim, your also providing heartbreaking news to children about their fathers using a really unfortunate platform (twitter), which can be incredibly mentally damaging to them in the long run. You should think twice before you publicly call yourself an advocate for children, and also a protector. What you are doing is far from protection. 

When I first came across your Twitter/blog, I thought you had good intentions and that you were doing something good and helpful. And then I kept reading and it was clear that you potentially had alternative motives, rather than truly caring about the victims in these situations. 

 I truly hope that you will consider every side to every situation the next time you want to publicly share information about a situation that you have absolutely no involvement in. I also hope that when women and victims reach out to you in the future, that you will guide them to resources that will genuinely help them in their healing process, instead of exploiting them on social media.

Thanks for your time,


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Courage begets courage in Memphis: another survivor of sex abuse at Immanuel Baptist Church tells her story

Karen’s Story

I was manipulated and controlled by my abuser for nearly 2 years. I just recently realized that I've continued to allow him to manipulate me by keeping quiet since then. That's one reason I must get the truth out. He can control me no longer. Last week I filed an official police report, and now I tell my story. 

My family helped found Immanuel Baptist Church in Germantown when I was in 8th grade. Near the end of my freshman year, Jim, a volunteer youth worker who was married, began to endear himself to me as a friend/mentor/encourager/confidante. Over the following months, he fostered a sense that he was the only one I could really trust. It was during this time that he began to also turn the "friendship" into more of a "relationship." His physical/sexual pursuit followed quickly. This also continued to escalate, and Jim forcibly raped me. I was falsely burdened with guilt and shame but felt I had nowhere to turn. The "relationship" continued off and on for about another year and a half. He would say things to me like, "If you tell anyone, I'll deny it all." and, "No one will believe you, or they'll say you wanted it." Jim was super skilled at knowing how to keep me under his thumb. After many attempts of trying to escape and him reeling me back in, I finally was able to make a permanent break from him. I told no one during the entire 2 years. 

Fast forward about 3 years to my sophomore year of college when I began to make really bad relationship choices and got pregnant. {Let me pause right there. At this point, I seemed to choose guys I knew I couldn't trust, because I knew exactly what to expect from them.} When I told my parents that I was pregnant, the events from when I was 15 & 16 came out too. My dad spoke with police, and it was determined that the statute of limitations had passed on my case. He then spoke with Scott Payne, pastor of the church, and I met with him to give more details about what had happened. Payne set up a meeting with Jim and two men in leadership at the church to confront him. He denied it all. All 3 of those confronting Jim told my dad that they couldn't tell if Jim was telling the truth or not. He agreed to leave the church and nothing else was done. 

 Last year (2015), I was reconnected with a high school friend. She wanted to let me know that she was also sexually abused/raped by Jim. She was ashamed that she had not gone public with that information when my story was originally made known in 1996. She asked for my forgiveness for not backing me up and giving my story more credibility. Although this unearthed what I had tried to bury, I finally felt validated. I knew people didn’t believe me when I first told my story. But more importantly, her story confirmed my worst fears over all these years: that I was NOT the only victim. Chances are that Jim West has countless other victims out there suffering in silence. If you are one of his victims, please come forward. The long- term devastating effects of Jim’s abuse and molestation of me are indeterminable. Though I've had counseling and dealt with this for years, I still struggle emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, and sexually on a DAILY basis as a result of having my innocence stripped from me this way.

I've spent decades trying to convince myself that my forgiveness of these offenders meant not pursuing accountability for them. That was a lie. In Corinthians 13, Paul says that "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth." I'm making the truth about my abuse public because God loves truth, not because I'm seeking harm or revenge toward either of these men. And to their families I say, “I’m sorry that you are also suffering as a result of your husband’s, father’s, etc. choices.” The TRUTH will win. Scripture says, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." 

My purpose and plea is four-fold. First, as I stated at the beginning of this, I refuse to be controlled by my abuser any more. The truth is finally out there! If you want more details, I'll share as much as you want to know within the limits of what I haven't suppressed or forgotten. Second, if you have experienced sexual abuse of ANY kind by ANY one, please come forward. You are NOT to blame, and there is healing to be found in Jesus. Tell someone who can help you get help. Do not carry that burden alone any more. And I encourage you to file a report with police. Third, I had to get the truth out there about this because Scott Payne, the pastor of the church, has apologized and publicly renounced his mishandling of another sex abuse situation (victims Stubblefield, Hansen, & Hansen) which he swept under the rug. But it seems to me that if he was truly sorry, he would be seeking to make amends with me and all the other abuse victims he knows of under his watch...and there ARE others. AND he would be exposing my abuser and all others he knows of. As the shepherd who was supposed to care for his flock, he failed miserably. And because of his neglect in reporting to police and subsequent churches, his guilt is multiplied. Fourth, I want to help bring about changes in the legal ramifications that churches and pastors face for not reporting crimes like that which was committed against me. This will in turn change the way churches handle situations like mine. If abusers know that pastors will expose them, they will feel less freedom to prey on and destroy the lives of our precious babies in our beloved churches. This is a fight worth fighting! Won't you join me?

 If We're Honest by Francesca Battistelli 

Truth is harder than a lie 
The dark seems safer than the light 
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you 
We've built walls nobody can get through 
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides 
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest 
Don't pretend to be something that you're not
Living life afraid of getting caught 
There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine 
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides 
And mercy's waiting on the other side 
If we're honest 
If we're honest 
It would change our lives
It would set us free 
It's what we need to be 
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides 
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest 
If we're honest 


On November 25, 2015, Kenny Stubblefield, another survivor of sex abuse at Immanuel Baptist Church, recorded a call with Kyle Cockrum. Kyle is a former pastor who was previously on staff at Immanuel Baptist Church and Cherokee Baptist Church.

In the audio embedded below, Kenny Stubblefield discusses his and others' stories of child sex abuse with Cockrum. Kenny Stubblefield, Brooks Hansen and Michael Hansen came forward recently to share their stories of abuse by former Immanuel assistant youth pastor Chris Carwile, now employed with the City of Memphis. Carwile has been placed on leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation. These victims told The Commercial Appeal that after their assaults, they told former lead pastor Scott Payne at Immanuel Baptist Church, but he did not report this information to police.
"The church's attitude was we fired him and that's good enough," Hansen said.
Kyle Cockrum and Kenny Stubblefield can be heard on the audio discussing Scott Payne's role in the alleged cover up of sex abuse at Immanuel Baptist Church.  This is a partial recording of the conversation. Kyle shares his thoughts on Scott "Captain Mediator" Payne:
I'm going to be honest. Scott was the king of brushing stuff under the damn rug. It was about perception over substance...He was able to talk the Moores [Karen's parents] down from going to the police.
Tennessee has a "one-party consent" law. Under a one-party consent law, you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation.

Raw Story: Highpoint Church with convicted sex offender on worship team postpones merger with second church facing abuse claims
The Survivors Network of those Abused (SNAP) has called on the Church at Schilling Farms to fire Payne over the cover-up.

TN-- Victims want Mid-South preacher fired

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging Mid-South Baptist Association in Tennessee to “denounce, discipline and publicly remove Rev. Scott Payne” from any posts in their organization.
In media interviews, Payne admits that he did not call police when he was confronted in the 1990s with allegations that Immanuel Baptist Church assistant youth pastor Chris Carwile had abused kids.
In recent news reports, several victims have come forward to tell their abuse stories and file police reports against Carwile. He’s worked recently at the main branch of the Memphis Public Library until he was suspended days ago.
SNAP contends that Payne’s actions are “a violation of common sense, common decency, pastoral responsibility and state law.”
“Rev. Payne should have no role or position in any church or religious body and should be drummed out of the ministry and never again given a position in which he might again ignore or hide child sexual abuse, either known or suspected,” David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP. “We hope law enforcement will investigate his actions - and inaction – and consider prosecuting him.”
Payne is listed as a leader on the Team of Encouragers for the Mid-South Baptist Association in Tennessee. The association is directed by Dr. Mitch Martin. 
“We hope Mid-South Baptist Association will publicly denounce Rev. Payne, and send a clear signal to their employees and congregants that ignoring or hiding suspicions of child sex crimes is immoral and won’t be tolerated,” said Clohessy.
“We hope Mid-South Baptist Association will publicly chastise Rev. Payne and send a clear signal to their employees and congregants that ignoring or hiding suspicions of child sex crimes is immoral and won’t be tolerated,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s Outreach Director. “Whether this post is important or ceremonial, paid or unpaid, fulltime or part time – none of that matters. Giving any kind or role or honor or power to someone who admits hiding suspected child sex crimes is wrong and counter-productive.”
SNAP says that the law clearly says that everyone in Tennessee is a mandatory reporter of child abuse. 
“Rev. Payne admits he didn’t call police and now asks forgiveness. But forgiveness is premature and does nothing to protect kids,” said Clohessy. “First, Payne must help police, prosecutors and Carwile’s victims first, by doing everything he can to help ensure that Carwile is successfully prosecuted. The same is true of current and former supervisors and colleagues of Carwile’s at every church where he worked, even for a short time.
“Rev. Payne’s excuses for acting selfishly, recklessly and deceitfully ring hollow. And ignorance of the law is no excuse,” said Amy Smith, SNAP leader Dallas-Fort Worth. “We hope law enforcement will investigate Rev. Payne, see if he’s done this in other cases and prosecute him if possible.
"Some say that because Rev. Payne didn’t call police, he was not kept on staff when a merger of two churches was planned. SNAP says that’s “not enough.”
 “If church officials opted out of the merger and rejected Rev. Payne because he refused to call police about abuse, they need to disclose this publicly,” Clohessy said. “They owe it to police, prosecutors, parents and the public, not to mention their own flock.”
“Quiet consequences for serious wrongdoing achieves little, especially when there’s clear admission of guilt,” said Dorris. “Only by publicly demoting, disciplining and denouncing “enablers” will kids be protected, abuse be stopped and cover ups be deterred.”
We applaud Karen's courage, and we are thankful that she is telling her story. She was preyed upon by a trusted adult in her church. She is not to blame. Kids are not to blame. Adults that prey upon kids are to blame.

When offenders are elevated to positions of trust and leadership, victims may be intimidated and scared to come forward. This has a silencing effect upon kids who have been abused by a trusted adult in the community. Victims fear they will not be believed. 

We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered sexual abuse by Jim West, Chris Carwile, Timothy Heinz, or any other church leader will find the courage to come forward, report to police, help others and start healing. When victims come forward they give courage to others who have been suffering in silence and self-blame. Silence only helps predators. 

Jim West is reportedly a leader at Central Church in Collierville, Tennessee (Memphis area).

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.
Everyone in Tennessee is a mandated reporter under state law. Any person with reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused or neglected must, under the law, immediately report to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services or to local law enforcement. The reporter can remain anonymous.

How to report sexual abuse

Cyber Tipline

Child Help

Memphis Police Department


This afternoon, Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch called the main number at Central Church to ask if Jim West is a member there. She spoke with the church secretary who told her that there is no one by that name at the church now nor has there been in the recent past as far as she knows. Dee explained the story to her, but she said that she has not heard of him.

After Dee's phone call, I emailed Janell O'Leary, Communications Director at Central Church.

I have not received a reply from Janell yet. About 8 pm tonight, I called the main church number and spoke with Tori. I asked her if Jim West is or ever has been a church member there. She transferred me to a women's ministry director's voicemail which was full, so I called Tori back. Again I asked if Jim West is a member there. She then gave me the name and number of another pastor there, Gene Sauls. I then asked her again if she could confirm that he is a member or not. Tori stated that Jim West is not a member and that he has never been a member at Central Church. I informed Tori that I would be quoting her in an update on my blog post. She said not to quote her, and that she didn't even know what I was writing about. I explained that my post was about a victim reporting Jim West to the police for sex abuse. She then replied that she had heard about that story. She again confirmed to me that Jim West is not a member and never has been a member at Central Church. This conflicts with information shared with me by others close to the situation that Jim West is a member at this church.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Convicted, registered child sex offender serves on worship team on stage at Highpoint Church Memphis

Raw Story 

I wrote about Highpoint Church Memphis 2 weeks ago, along with Dee at The Wartburg Watch.

I was informed last night that Timothy Christian Heinz, a convicted and registered child sex offender, is a member of the worship team on stage during worship services at Highpoint Church in Memphis. Tim's conviction is for aggravated statutory rape on 9/28/2009. Tim's date of birth is 12/27/1974. At the date of the offense, Tim was 35 years old. He is listed on the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry here.

In a Highpoint Church email, Timothy Heinz can be seen in the top photo on stage with the worship team (5th from the left).

Shortly after I tagged Tim Heinz last night in a tweet, he deleted his account.

An open letter to every senior pastor whose church wants to minister to those who pose a risk of harm by Simon Bass

It is commendable that your church wants to support sexual offenders in being part of your worshipping community, after all the gospel is for the ‘whosoever’. It is not meant to be critical in pointing out that as a pastor you are likely to have an optimistic view of people borne out of the Christian doctrine that no one is beyond God’s redemption; we are all sinners, but our sins are redeemed by God’s saving action in Jesus Christ. We are unworthy and undeserving by ourselves but God’s grace is poured out for the redemption of all who believe. Sometimes it is difficult to see beyond this, to have a critical understanding of the nature of perpetrators of sexual harm.

As shepherds you have a duty of care towards your flock, and especially those who are vulnerable; those children and adults in your congregation. As a good steward it is vital that before contemplating ministering to anyone who has committed sexual offences such an undertaking is not done so naively – the risk of harm to children is just too great. I say this based on the recidivism rates for sexual offenders, which sadly includes those who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. If we have learned anything from the clerical abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church and other major denominations it is that professing faith does not mean we become sinless. Those who have sexually molested children will always pose a future risk to them. This is not to deny the transforming work of Jesus Christ but recognition of the addictive nature of sexual crimes.

In every fellowship there will be survivors of sexual abuse (based on national and international statistics of the number who have been victims of abuse in childhood). Many look to the church as a place of sanctuary and struggle when churches have sympathy and mobilise resources for perpetrators of abuse, whilst the pain and safety needs of victims are ignored.

How you as a pastor respond to perpetrators who have molested children must always have as a starting point the safety of children. Then you should give due consideration to the needs of survivors, and the affect ministering to perpetrators of abuse can have on them. If you appear to be one-sided you will alienate many in the church, and especially those who have been harmed. Survivors of abuse will only ever have confidence in your church if their voice is heard when you are working with those who have committed sexual violence against them.

I would urge you as pastors to use appropriate language when talking about sexual offenders, and by this I am talking about those who have molested and raped children, and filmed then shared these abusive acts. Don’t describe sexual offenders simply as offenders, nor describe them as ex-offenders, as it can be perceived that there is a denial of their offence and ignoring that they will always be a risk, and it consigns the abuse to the past. Certainly don’t describe their behavior as being about mistakes in the past, which is just too dismissive.

Ensuring your church is a safe and welcoming environment requires that you have a child protection policy in place, and that all your leaders have been trained in child safety, including safer recruitment, that you have clear working practices including what to do where abuse is disclosed or suspected. This would also include how you address the pastoral and counseling needs of those who have been affected by abuse. With this in place you will be better equipped to minister to sexual offenders, remember they will look for acceptance, and the church is often the only place where this can be found. It is understandable why sex offenders are drawn to church.

Some manipulative sex offenders will target churches, professing faith and using language and acting in ways suggestive that they are repentant, knowing they will be accepted, in order to gain contact with children in order to abuse them. Other sex offenders who truly want to turn away from the crimes they have committed will show fruit in keeping with repentance. One clear way is for the sex offender to agree to never working with children or wanting to have any position or authority within the church which would give rise to a child believing them to be trustworthy. This requires wisdom in considering what roles and titles you give to sex offenders to ensure they are not seen as a person in a position of trust.

Children are trusting, and if they believe a person is safe to be around because that is the impression you give at church, they are not going to be weary when approached outside of church. It is imperative that you engage in a covenant contract with the sex offender, outlining the boundaries they are expected to keep and how the church may be able to support in their rehabilitation to prevent the likelihood of them re-offending. Living with the consequence of the crime isn’t denying redemption. This should be written drawing on a professional risk assessment from their probation or law enforcement officer, or others involved in their aftercare. It should clearly state the crime they committed, and any sanctions or restrictions they are under, and what sex offender management plan that may be in place. Key leaders in the church need to be aware of this contract. Don’t assume that members of the church will refer to the sex offender register.

Be very clear as to what offences have been acknowledged, and dealt with by the courts, as further admissions can lead to you as pastors needing to mandatorily contact law enforcement. A situational risk assessment should also be undertaken to ascertain if you are able to provide the level of support and supervision needed to ensure the sex offender can be monitored sufficiently so as not to put children at risk. Churches don’t just operate in one building but include meeting in homes for bible studies and as a church family there will be offers of hospitality. These need to be included in the contract, which should be constantly reviewed, and remain in force indefinitely.

Other considerations
I have known sex offenders who have said the church should cease the contract such as at the time of the end of their probation. The risk they posed though had not changed so the contract should remain. Certainly don’t give public ministry to sex offenders or opportunity for them to share their testimony. It is grossly offensive to survivors of abuse, for some it is an opportunity to groom a congregation and other sexual offenders will get sexual gratification from re-telling their story. It is unfair to their victims, not least because it risks identifying them.

I believe that sex offenders can be part of church but because of the nature of the offence there are many aspects of ministry that they should not be involved in, starting with not having any role where they are in any position of trust. Many churches provide pastoral support and recovery programs but again this is not something a sex offender should be involved in. Due to the predisposition to sexually abuse a child, this is a matter for long term intense therapeutic intervention; this disqualifies sexual offenders from acting as facilitators within certain recovery programs, for example where providing care or counsel to anyone dealing with addiction, especially sex addictions or pornography. This is simply foolhardy. I have known sex offenders who began viewing pornography and then downloaded child abuse images. Some victims of sexual abuse have become addicted to alcohol or drugs in order to cope with that abuse. For these reasons it is therefore totally inappropriate to have a sex offender involved in these ministries.

Churches should always be a place of acceptance and refuge and welcome, so let’s first ensure that survivors of abuse believe this first. Working with sex offenders require you as pastors to recognize that this is a specialist area where you should be working collaboratively with appropriate professionals and their agencies.  It’s therefore vital to work with law enforcement and get support from organizations such as G.R.A.C.E. and Stop it Now!,  and survivor advocacy organizations such as SNAP.

Simon Bass
Chief Executive, CCPAS

Sunday, November 13, 2016

New River Fellowship Church pastor Scott Crenshaw removed as lead pastor for "inappropriate images"

I reported my concerns about New River Fellowship Church and the removal of Scott Crenshaw to the NCMEC Cybertipline.  I have spoken with Detective Rick Reese in the Hudson Oaks Police Department. If anyone has further information about Scott Crenshaw's removal due to "inappropriate images," or any information that needs to be reported to law enforcement, please contact Detective Rick Reese at 682-229-2424.
Fort Worth-area church removes pastor for ‘inappropriate images’

A senior pastor in the Fort Worth area has been removed from his job because he had “inappropriate images” on his work computer, according to the church.
The board of directors of New River Fellowship Church announced earlier this week that it removed senior pastor Scott Crenshaw from his position.
Crenshaw helped started the contemporary church, which is based in Hudson Oaks and has campuses in Benbrook and Minerals Wells. The church has more than 2,000 members.
New River website (archived here) with links to statements by New River (archived here), Scott Crenshaw (archived here) and new executive pastor Jeff Humphrey (archived here)
Scott has made some unfortunate choices that have caused us much concern. Leadership confronted him and discussed at length the concern, the nature of which was related to inappropriate images on his church office computer. The Board then confronted Scott and went through the steps of dealing with sin as outlined in Matthew 18. Because Scott chose not to properly address this issue, he is not qualified to lead as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and the church bylaws. We spent hours with Scott praying diligently about seeking outside counseling, to which he has agreed. It is our desire to see complete restoration for him and hopefully return as our Senior Pastor; however, that is the Lord’s call not ours.
It is important we provide private space for Scott and his family as part of the healing process. You will not see Pastor Scott and Renee at church and will not see much of them on social media. Please understand, their marriage is strong and Renee is walking at Scott’s side through all of this. We know you will want more details but we ask you to please refrain from reaching out to them to satisfy your curiosity. Every board member you see is available to ask questions, but please do not be offended if some answers we choose not to give. For complete healing for Scott and his family we want to honor the man and woman of God they are, and not give into gossip. We have been honored to sit under the teaching of a man who proclaimed the gospel with words that reached a diverse body. Many of you have experienced the power of God in this house through Freedom Ministry. Please understand that as Scott “submits to this process” many will become free because of his submission. Leadership starts in the house of God. It is our hope that every member of this church body will commit to prayer. Please do not allow the enemy to get his foothold through gossip, arrogance or judgment. Instead allow this to be a reminder that the secret things come to the light in all of us. Recognize the fear of the Lord and create an atmosphere of transparency. It is in confession to one another that we receive healing. None of us is without sin but as long as we keep things in the dark we are bound

Did any of the "inappropriate images" found on pastor Scott Crenshaw's church computer contain minors? If so, has the leadership of New River Fellowship Church reported this to police? This question seems to fall into the category of answers New River leaders "choose not to give."

Statement by executive pastor Jeff Humphrey: LETS GIVE EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT 

First of all, as people want to talk to you about details, send them to The written statements of the board, Scott, and myself will be there along with some great scripture reminders for people to have and to read in black and white. Let them talk about that. Next, if you have questions… Each Monday night at HO and MW, and each Wednesday night at BB we gather for our EQUIP NIGHTS. The Campus Pastors of each campus will be in the lobby each EQUIP NIGHT for the rest of the year to visit with any of you who have questions or need counsel about this, and as always you can call the church office to make an appointment to visit with any of our Pastors. 

Earlier today, I tagged New River pastor Jeff Humphrey on Twitter and asked my question about the images found on Crenshaw's computer. As of 5:30 pm, Jeff Humphrey has protected his Twitter account which was previously public.

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids and vulnerable adults.

If anyone has information that children are being exploited through child sexual abuse and images of child sexual abuse, please call police immediately or call NCMEC Cybertipline or use the online form to make a report.


Polaris: National Human Trafficking Resource Center

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Child sex abuse victims of a former Memphis Baptist youth pastor speak out together

 This post is in partnership with Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch.

Last weekend, three survivors of child sex abuse by a former Baptist assistant youth pastor in Tennessee publicly shared their stories. Dee and I read these stories and shared them on social media. Our hearts go out to these men, and we applaud them for their bravery in sharing such personal pain. In doing so, they are giving many others courage to come forward and tell their own stories as well as protecting other kids.

Through independent research and verification, Dee and I have learned that the accused former Baptist youth pastor is Chris Carwile. In the posts by the survivors, Chris' name has been changed and appears as "Carl." 

Chris Carwile is currently the Broadcast Program Coordinator of WYPL at the City of Memphis Public Library.

One year ago, one of the survivors, Michael Hansen, sent a letter to pastor Scott Payne, former pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, the church where Chris Carwile served as youth ministry intern during the time the child sexual abuse occurred. In the survivors' posts, Scott's name appears as "Thomas." After Chris was forced to leave Immanuel Baptist Church when abuse allegations surfaced, he reportedly went on to serve in youth ministry at Cherokee Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

Update 11/11/16 

Highpoint Church released a statement yesterday, and members received an email with a link to that statement. (archived link just in case.)

Recently, social media communications surfaced regarding the relationship of Highpoint Church with The Church at Schilling Farms (formerly Immanuel Baptist Church). The allegations are of a serious nature involving past sexual abuse. These events did not occur at Highpoint Church, nor were any Highpoint leaders or partners involved. The alleged sexual abuse happened over 18 years ago — before Highpoint Church even existed.
Highpoint first explored a merger with The Church at Schilling Farms in October 2014. Highpoint leadership, along with the Elders at The Church at Schilling Farms, agreed to a merger in the Fall of 2015. After these discussions, both Highpoint leadership and the Elders at The Church at Schilling Farms became aware of accusations of past sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct toward minors by a former intern at Immanuel Baptist Church.
Upon learning of that news, we immediately took action in three ways: we attempted to provide pastoral guidance to the individuals involved; we sought wise, legal counsel from our attorney; and we redefined our future relationship with The Church at Schilling Farms. One aspect of redefining this relationship was the decision that the Pastor of The Church at Schilling Farms would not serve on staff at Highpoint Church.
Due to the serious nature of this situation, the leadership at Highpoint Church, in agreement with the leadership at The Church at Schilling Farms, decided to restructure the relationship between the two churches from a merger to a lease agreement for the facility at 1035 E. Winchester Blvd. We confidently moved forward with this lease agreement because of our commitment to minister to the Collierville community knowing true reconciliation and resolution could only occur between the parties involved.
Highpoint Church has always been committed to providing healing to the hurting, and circumstances like these only reinforce our commitment.
Please join us as we pray for all those involved. Thank you.
Highpoint Church officials now are claiming that the partnership with The Church at Schilling Farms was never a merger. This might come as news to church members since HP announced it as just that, a merger. (link archived here and the audio announcement is here dated November 22, 2015.)

Some may be surprised to learn that The Church at Schilling Farms does still exist as a property owner, though the church itself does not exist as a functioning church, having been announced as a merger with Highpoint Church Collierville

Former Immanuel Baptist/Schilling Farms pastor Scott Payne weighed in on Facebook yesterday. (How many times will this church change names, geez?)

Scott Payne's daughter Amanda posted her thoughts as well.

  Letter to Scott Payne by watchkeep on Scribd (trigger warning)

Immanuel Baptist Church became The Church at Schilling Farms which merged with High Point Church Memphis (HP) about one year ago. HP is a Southern Baptist Church. Originally, HP announced that pastor Scott Payne would be a "key player" at HP and "serve a valuable role as Associate Pastor to the Lead Pastor at Highpoint Church." Chris Conlee is the lead pastor at HP.

About a month after this announcement about the merger, Scott Payne's stated role changed to a "sabbatical."

In an audio recording, Highpoint Church lead pastor Chris Conlee, speaking to the survivors about sex abuse by Chris Carwile, states, "Sometimes it's best to not tell the truth because the truth can be harmful."

Silent no more:

In 1998, Immanuel Baptist Church hired a college student as a paid youth ministry intern. He worked with students through drama programs, worship services, and bible studies. He molested at least three youth at Immanuel that year in their sleep during sleepovers at his parents’ East Memphis home. The senior pastor of Immanuel worked diligently to cover up the abuse and, as a result, it went unreported to authorities and justice was never served. Their abuser went free. Those three boys, now men in their 30s, came forward to share their stories this week in the hopes that it will help save other boys from sexual abuse by this predator (and others) and that the Christian church will acknowledge its institutional failures and seek meaningful reform. Since sharing their stories, multiple new victims of the same perpetrator have come forward.

Michael HansenHow the Church Conspired to Cover Up My Sexual Abuse

Brooks Hansen

Kenny Stubblefield

After three weeks of silence, we learned he had received the letter, and reached out to lawyers from the Southern Baptist Convention. The lawyers from the SBC told Thomas to “prepare for war.

We hope that anyone else who has seen, suspected or suffered abuse by Chris Carwile will come forward and report to law enforcement, seek help to heal and protect others. Silence only helps perpetrators. Sexual abuse is a crime to be handled by law enforcement, not a spiritual matter of sin to be handled by pastors. Forgiveness is a personal, private decision. Protecting kids is a public mandate.

The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.

How to Report Sexual Abuse

NCMEC Cyber Tipline

Child Help

Criminal statute of limitations for sex crimes information by state

Updated: local Memphis news coverage

Sex Abuse Claims Launch City Investigation Into Memphis Library Employee

City of Memphis library worker accused of sexual abuse, suspended 

WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee