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
Christian Post“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.
Fox 13 Memphis
The Wartburg Watch
Religion News Service
Bob Allen’s story on Andy Savage also includes my history of exposing child sexual abuse by John Langworthy at my former church in TX @prestonwood and in Mississippi https://t.co/IHUSrqlCsY #churchtoo #sbc19 #caringwell— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) October 29, 2019
He doesn’t get it. He likely never will. There is a common strain of sociopathy that draws certain people to seek power within the institutional Christian Church.— Michael Hansen 🏳️🌈 (@MichaelHansen) October 29, 2019
In the recording he says, “It’s not hard to find out what I’ve done wrong. Just Google my name, it’s out there. It’s not hard to figure it out. And here’s the thing, we all have our story. Mine just got national news coverage.”— Katherine Burgess (@KathsBurgess) October 29, 2019