Connecting the dots: Andy Savage, from Tennessee to Texas and back again
*This is a working document that has been updated as new information has become available.
What we know from Andy Savage and his admission of sexual assault of Jules Woodson as a 17 year-old minor in his care as a youth pastor in 1998 - these are the pastors who knew and failed to report the assault to police when they first learned about the "incident" and over the 20 years since: Steve Bradley, Larry Cotton, Chris Conlee.
Other names mentioned in the graph show the connection to Germantown Baptist Church, Andy Savage and Chris Conlee. Germantown Baptist Church was Savage's home church when he left for Texas and came back to Tennessee again.
The other men mentioned in the graphic, whose paths crossed with Andy's, are currently or were pastors on staff or volunteer leaders at the respective churches.
In addition to Andy Savage, two other accused sex abusers are mentioned with connections to Highpoint Church, Andy Savage and Chris Conlee. Tim Heinz is a registered child sex offender in Tennessee. Chris Carwile was reported to police for child sex abuse and subsequently lost his job with the City of Memphis.
Convicted child sex offender John Langworthy is linked in the list of names at the end of this post.
In an earlier draft, Bart Lewis was mentioned. Bart is a pastor and "Global Digital Director" at Highpoint Church. On Linkedin he lists his first church work experience as "Germantown Church." What denomination is this? Is this the full name of the church? It is vague. Why not specify? A previous commenter stated that this was Germantown Methodist. In a search for "Germantown Church," there does not appear to be a church that simply identifies as Germantown Church. Why wouldn't a pastor want to be clear about his work experience?
February 21 update: someone replied on Twitter with the link to the archived page listing Bart Lewis on staff as associate director of student ministries at Germantown Methodist. He was there from 2001-2003. Another archived link was found to show that Bart worked at a church planted by Germantown Baptist Church. He was the pastor to students and families at The Love of Christ Church in Memphis from 2003-2010.
In a series of tweets, Joseph Harrison discussed Bart Lewis and my post here. Joseph was adamant that Bart had no connection to Germantown Baptist Church. Before Joseph's tweets, I had already explained my post revision as evidenced above in the paragraph beginning with "in an earlier draft."
How would Bart Lewis' connection to Germantown Baptist Church, now confirmed, "potentially alter" his life?
Highpoint Church appears to be a church plant of Germantown Baptist Church through Metro Bible Study, a bible study for college students and singles at GBC.
According to information found on Crosswave Radio about Christian recording artist Todd Agnew's career, Highpoint Church was started through the Metro ministry of Germantown Baptist Church.
So Agnew began traveling to Memphis to help with a city wide Bible study for college students and singles called Metro Bible study in the fall of 1999 at Germantown Baptist Church. During this time he began writing and introducing songs to the group which later became the songs on the record “Grace Like Rain.” He eventually moved to Memphis to help plant a church, which developed through the Metro event called Highpoint Church.
*Jules recalls Todd Agnew being at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, now Stonebridge Church, when Andy Savage was there as youth pastor. After his time at Germantown Baptist and Highpoint Church in Memphis, Todd Agnew then moved to Austin, TX where he was at Austin Stone Church writing and recording songs with Austin Stone Worship. Austin Stone pastor Larry Cotton resigned last week. He was the associate pastor at Woodlands Parkway that Jules told about the assault by Andy. Larry blamed Jules, asking her, "So you're telling me you participated?" Austin Stone Church sent out the following message about Larry Cotton's resignation.
*Update 2/28/18: A comment on The Wartburg Watch about Todd Agnew and Andy Savage
*Update 2/28/18: A comment on The Wartburg Watch about Todd Agnew and Andy Savage
Message from Larry Cotton:
Over the last few weeks, after seeking much counsel and prayer, I want to be the first to let you know that on Thursday, February 15, I informed the elders at The Austin Stone Community Church of my decision to step down from my staff ministry leadership position. It has been my honor to be a part of what the Lord is doing here at The Austin Stone Community Church. I have been extremely privileged to serve with brothers and sisters whose ultimate goal is to see Jesus lifted high, and I will greatly miss working here. I know this is the beginning of a new season for me, and I have peace that God will use me for His glory.
Brokenness and sin have unraveled the fabric of our world, resulting in injustice, pain, and suffering. I am more convinced than ever that the only One able to mend the brokenness and unraveling of this fabric is Jesus Christ. To the best of my ability, with God’s power, I desire to be a man that He might use to mend this brokenness.
This is why I want to express again my deepest grief and sorrow for Jules Woodson and all those who were wounded by what happened in 1998. During my leave of absence, I have come to better understand the weight of my mistakes and my responsibilities as a church leader at that time. I wish I had known 20 years ago what I understand today. I now understand that I did not do enough to serve Jules and help her feel protected and cared for —I wish I had done more. I understand that I failed to report the sexual abuse —I wish I had reported to the proper authorities. Even though it’s impossible, I wish I could go back in time and correct these mistakes.
I contributed to the pain and suffering of Jules and others, and for this, I feel great sorrow. I can identify with the words of Paul in the scriptures that help me see--Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his perfect patience as an example for others who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Only Jesus can mend the unraveling caused by sin and weave in true justice, peace and healing.
I am praying for healing for Jules; that she might be comforted by the peace of Christ even in the midst of her pain. I hope for her forgiveness of me. I pray for The Austin Stone to continue to be a safe and Christ-honoring environment for men, women, students, and children to grow spiritually and flourish. And I thank you, my church family, for your continued love and prayers.
I love you all dearly.
Message from the Elders:
As you recall from our communications to you beginning January 5th, an allegation was made against Larry Cotton regarding his response to the reported sexual assault of a young woman by a youth leader at the church where he was on staff in 1998. Given the seriousness of the allegations, we placed Larry on leave of absence, and engaged the attorneys at MinistrySafe to conduct a thorough investigation.
During this season, Larry has been prayerful in seeking after the Lord for wisdom and clarity as to how to honor the Lord and act in obedience to God’s word. As a result of much prayer and counsel, Larry has communicated to the elders on February 15th that he desires to step down from his staff ministry leadership position at the Austin Stone Community Church, effective immediately. In recognizing and grieving for his errors of the past, Larry is illustrating the kind of Christlike character we know and affirm in Larry today.
As a church, it is our desire to help him seek forgiveness from those who were hurt and foster any reconciliation that might be possible in the future. Even though he is no longer on staff, Larry does remain in good standing as a partner of our church. Through this process, we have affirmed our belief that Larry did not intend to cause harm, but we understand and support his decision in light of the consequences of his actions. We are heartbroken for Larry and we will deeply miss his presence on staff, as well we are committed to shepherding and caring for him and his family.
We invite you to join us in praying for compassion, wisdom, and discernment as we journey forward. We have also already begun the process of working with MinistrySafe to review our policies and update training for all of our staff and leaders on preventing and reporting abuse. We continue to remain committed to ensuring the safety of victims and advocacy for individuals who have suffered abuse. We strongly urge you to report to Child Protective Services or appropriate criminal authorities if you suspect the sexual abuse of a minor.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact your campus leadership. We would love to hear from you.
Grace and peace,
The Elders of The Austin Stone Community Church
Global digital director @bartlewis @hpmemphis runs the livestream worship service chat and he doesn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. @andysavage @chrisconlee #MeToo #churchtoo #justiceforjules pic.twitter.com/AG6Gi4U6Yl— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) February 18, 2018
A Memphis megachurch pastor received a standing ovation during a church service on Sunday after he admitted that he had engaged in a “sexual incident” with a high school student 20 years ago in Texas.
The admission by the pastor, Andy Savage, came several days after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1998 when she was 17 and he was the youth minister at a suburban Houston church. One night, Mr. Savage offered to drive her home from church but first took her to a wooded area off a dirt road and had her perform oral sex on him, the woman, Jules Woodson, wrote in a blog post detailing her story.
On Sunday, Mr. Savage did not tell the congregation at Highpoint Church what took place in 1998, but he said that he had sinned, taken responsibility for it and never kept it a secret from church leaders. He said that before Ms. Woodson took her story public, he believed that the episode had been “dealt with in Texas.”
Germantown Baptist Church (Was Andy Savage ordained at GBC before he went to TX?)