Jules Woodson issues statement in response to Andy Savage starting a new church

Jules Woodson - Twitter

Andy Savage sexually assaulted me when I was 17 and he was my ordained youth pastor. He admits to sexually assaulting me. He admits that it was abuse of power.  Less than two years after this abuse was exposed, and he resigned from Highpoint Church, he has filed non-profit paperwork to plant a new church “Grace Valley Church.”

When Andy sexually abused me, two other pastors, Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley failed to oversee Andy’s repentance, and failed to teach Andy that he had forever disqualified himself as a pastor, according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2 in the Bible. I have listened to Andy Savage’s speech to the potential members of “Grace Valley Church,” which was published online. Andy Savage is using manipulative approaches and what are considered “grooming” tactics to gain interest and support for his church.  In his speech, Andy appeals to vulnerable, broken people and broken lives who are in need of the gospel; he asks for people to share their secrets with him and the church; Andy chuckles while saying “I got my hands on the wrong thing” referring to his past sexual abuse of me.

While it is true that we are all sinners, that God’s grace is amazing and available to all of us – including Andy Savage – there is a difference between repentance and restoration to the body of Christ and restoration to being a pastor. A pastor who sexually assaults a minor in their care is who Jesus talks about in Luke 17. Morally, ethically, biblically, Andy Savage is not qualified to be a pastor. Because he has abused people when he was given a position of power, part of his repentance and restoration is to NOT be put into that position of power ever again.

When a trusted pastor appeals to people to be vulnerable and to share secrets, that can be a gift to help repentance and grow a person’s faith. These are the things that Andy asked of me when I was a child to groom me for sexual abuse. He is using the same method to start Grace Valley Church.

Twenty years ago, Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley supported Andy Savage.  Andy Savage is not starting Grace Valley Church without the help and support of others. Andy Savage and his supporters are setting a precedent within the church that men who have preyed upon the flock can still belong on the pulpit. This is dangerous, this is wrong and I believe that Andy’s message of “cheap Grace” leads people astray from the truth of God’s Word.

Media coverage of news about the launch of Grace Valley Church:

Baptist News Global
“Regarding this new church, it is very important to me that you help me maintain that this is not about me,” Savage said in the audio of a meeting reportedly held to gauge interest in moving forward with the launch of Grace Valley Church.
“Churches very easily become about their pastor, and I’m not going to do that,” Savage said. “I’m refusing to do it. I will not walk down that road. This is not about me. This has to be about what God is going to do in the lives of people who recognize they are in a valley. That’s what this is about, and that can’t be done by me, not by myself. If that vision captures your heart at all, then I would love for you to go on this journey with us.”
The blog that broke the story, Watch Keep, started out in 2010 with postings on things like favorite recipes and travel photos. That changed on Oct. 13, 2011, when Amy Smith wrote about her efforts to speak up and warn about her former youth music minister, John Langworthy, at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.
Christian Post

Commercial Appeal


Fox 13 Memphis

The Wartburg Watch

Religion News Service

WMC5 Memphis


bunkababy said…
I hate how these pastors just think they can start another church with no consequences here on earth or in the after life.

He disqualified himself and should have learned or taken up another profession. You don't start another church like you start a business.

As a survivor myself of clergy sexual abuse I hate what power these men give themselves.I HATE it.

Anonymous said…
This guy is pure garbage....why would anyone go to his church? People will believe anything....ugggggh!
Anonymous said…
Jules, your article is very well put and done so in the Spirit of Christ. I detect no bitterness, just righteous indignation. You are doing a good thing for the body of Christ. Thankyou
Anonymous said…
I'm glad he's starting a new church and not letting comments of the world get to him. He's in the right. Yes, what he did in the past may have been wrong, but there are always 2 sides to a story. If you had your sins televised on national TV, would you allow yourself to be in the position you are now? The American church today is a mess. We don't allow stories of hope, redemption, and we don't have an expectation of miracles. We dwell on the past, which prevents us from moving forward in the future. You speak of him not being able to lead because of mistakes in his past, but what about Paul all throughout the New Testament? He persecuted christians, did possible performed even more unspeakable acts, yet he allowed christ to transform him and his actions. Andy is simply obey God's calling on his life. If he gets hate for sin in the past let him. Just as long as he isn't listening to the world and he puts his focus on what God is doing. Also, i know you probably won't let this comment be posted as the blog author because it's not supporting your point of view. That's ok because you want to control content to allow people to keep reading instead of speaking the truth.

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