Monday, July 30, 2018

Another fired Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary doing church youth ministry and missions in the SBC

Elliott Freeman

According to his bio on the Meridian University staff pageElliott Freeman graduated from the University of Oklahoma and received his Mdiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He and his wife, Leslie, served as missionaries for 6 years in southeast Asia.  Elliott, Leslie and their 4 children are now members of First Baptist Church Sapulpa Oklahoma.

Meridian University is a biblical training school for missions founded by Ralph Speas and Tom Elliff. Meridian University is located on the second floor of First Baptist Church Sapulpa.
Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastors Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Meridian University Board of Directors

Records received by The Sapulpa Messenger show that Elliott Freeman (full name Preston Elliott Freeman) served with the IMB in Southeast Asia from September 13, 2006 to his termination dated July 6, 2012. 
Elliff was originally inaugurated as IMB President in 2011. Under his tenure, in July 7, 2012, the IMB FIRED an IMB missionary serving from FBC Sapulpa.  So abrupt was his termination that his family had no time to gather their belongings.  He was perp-walked off the mission field in China and instructed that he was banned forever from serving in the IMB.  His personnel letter, which was placed into the hands of The Sapulpa Messenger, can be seen below:

The Sapulpa Messenger shared with me the email exchanges from January 2016 with the IMB and a concerned FBC Sapulpa member. The member was inquiring about Freeman's termination from the IMB and concerns that his termination was due to issues of sexual misconduct, since Freeman would be involved with kids in the church youth ministry. 

The concerned church member received a reply from Roger Haun, director of personnel at the IMB. Roger stated that "if there is an end of service for reasons such as you state, all inquiries about that individual are handled by our Executive Assistant to the President, Dr. Clyde Meador." At the time of the email exchanges, Meador was executive assistant to then and current IMB president David Platt. Clyde Meador retired from the IMB in May 2016. 

The church member stated that the inquiry was for concerns that Elliott Freeman was terminated from the IMB for "sexual misconduct." Roger Haun's reply confirmed that David Platt's executive assistant Clyde Meador should handle this inquiry since it involved "end of service" for "reasons such as you state." The stated reason was "sexual misconduct."

Clyde Meador, executive assistant to IMB president David Platt, replied to the email about Elliott Freeman. He confirmed that Elliott Freeman was terminated by the IMB for "failure to maintain a lifestyle in keeping with the expectations of missionaries of the International Mission Board." He added that to "explain further the lifestyle issues, I would need a written authorization from Mr. Freeman to share that information with you."

Social media posts confirm that terminated missionary Elliott Freeman is involved with the youth ministry at FBC Sapulpa. His father Mitch Freeman is on staff at the church as the children's pastor. Did Elliott Freeman's termination due to issues of sexual misconduct involve sexual abuse of kids or vulnerable people? If so, has this been reported to law enforcement to be investigated? Did the IMB conduct another internal investigation like in the case of fired IMB missionary Mark Aderholt who was recently arrested for child sex crimes?

The student pastor at FBC Sapulpa is Keno King.

Post by FBC Sapulpa youth pastor Keno King. Elliott Freeman is circled by Watchkeep.

Elliott Freeman training students at FBC Sapulpa

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Let it go": Southern Baptist Mission Organization, IMB, tells child sex abuse victim

Fort Worth Star Telegram: Southern Baptist officials knew of sexual abuse allegations 11 years before leader's arrest

I collaborated with Dee Parsons on her new post at The Wartburg Watch about this story. Read more here.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Chris Conlee resigns from Highpoint Church: new statement from Jules Woodson

Statement from Jules Woodson:
Over the past 6 months, since I originally went public with my story, and through the resignations of the other 3 pastors involved, Steve Bradley of StoneBridge Church has refused to acknowledge or be held accountable for any wrong doing to include his failure to report my assault to law enforcement. 

As #ChurchToo stories continue to pop up in headlines nationwide, (i.e. Bill Hybels, Frank Page, Paul Pressler, Mark Aderholt, to name a few,) people are beginning to understand how damaging and traumatizing clergy sexual abuse can be...It is a gross abuse of power that violates victims physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, churches continue to minimize abuse by handling reports internally and with toxic theology that focuses on cheap grace and forgiveness over accountability and justice.

My goals in continuing to speak out are not self motivated for pity or attention but instead, to encourage other abuse victims who have been shamed and silenced by the church, to know that they are not alone. I want my story to help educate others and effect positive change in how the church handles abuse and treats victims.

I think Chris Conlee's resignation was a necessary step and I'm grateful he is no longer in the pulpit for now though I am confused as to why it took 6 months for Highpoint to realize this. I also feel that the leaders missed an important opportunity yesterday to affirm to the world that in moving forward, they will be a church that no longer tolerates abuse and will become a safe and supportive place for all victims. Instead, they were vague about the resignation in the official statement they released and told reporters who reached out that they were not commenting.

The New York Times: I Was Assaulted. He Was Applauded.




Abuse survivor Brooks Hansen also spoke out after Chris Conlee's resignation: