Remember an abused 9 year old girl in your prayers!
Occasionally, the two of us like to prepare dinner and even sleep. Last evening, after dinner, I received an email from an anonymous person. They claimed to have included a statement from CrossWay Church to the congregation. They also claimed that this statement proved that Marge Sweigart was wrong about some of her statements.
I read the statement and was quite surprised because I believed that the statement appeared to confirm Marge's recounting of the events leading to our previous post. Thinking I was tired, I called Deb and asked her to read it. She, as well, felt that the statement was a confirmation of many things and even added some disconcerting information about the identity of the child in this matter. We decided to sit on this information over the weekend and try to get confirmation. We were deeply concerned that the email was not true.
An individual who goes by the name "sharklasers" then reprinted this alleged statement in our comments section. When I said that I was concerned because the statement admitted to some awkward omissions on the part of the church, (s)he became irritated and questioned my reading comprehension.
At this point I decided to go to bed. I woke up this morning and was shocked to find out what had transpired during the night. Not only did "sharklasers" comments surprise me but we received a report that some ugly comments have been flying around FaceBook.
Therefore, I will post the statement at the end of this post. If this statement is in error, I would ask that anyone from the church contact me and the statement will be removed.
I also want to make one thing clear. I do know the identities of the persons who are referred to in the 3rd person. Their identities lend credibility to Marge's statement. However, both Marge and I were concerned about the blow-back on the part of some in the church and decided to protect their identities. Given the report of some comments flying around FaceBook , it is obvious our concerns were legitimate.
Here are a few thoughts:
- Davis took "indecent liberties" with his own 5 year old daughter. He will not be able to see her until she is an adult. If this is a not-so-serious offense, then why can't he see her, say in 5 years? This is a grave offense, one that will impact the child for the rest of her life. She was betrayed by her father.
- A few counseling session with a pastor who is not an expert in sexual compulsion is hardly a cure-all for such an disorder.
- Premarital counseling for the marriage between a convicted incestuous sex offender and a second wife is troubling on many levels. They married approximately one year after the offense was committed. ONE YEAR! I will leave thoughtful people to understand the serious nature of marrying a man who could "take indecent liberties" with a 5 year old daughter.
- They admit that the entire congregation was not informed,that Davis served as an usher until this past October, that security was not informed until this past summer (3 years later), and that the children's ministry was not informed. Remember, the pastoral staff claims to have known about this since 10/09.
I don't get it. But, then again, I have never been immersed in the SGM culture. Perhaps this will serve as a sharp reminder that this is about the children first. There is a wounded, now 9 year old girl, out there, who deserves our prayers and thoughts. I wish the church leaders would have mentioned her in their missive. Why is it that the victims are often forgotten? Maybe Christians like the big "I was a pedophile and now I am cured and saved" stories. It sure sounds more glorious than the story of a little girl who will bear a life of pain due to this betrayal.
(Dee formatted the paragraphs and chose what to bold-3:56PM)
From Mickey Connolly Brothers and Sisters, Attached you will find information regarding a member of Crossway who is currently listed on the North Carolina Sex Offenders Registry. We are sending you this information at this time because we have been informed that a former member of Crossway has posted this information on a blog and has linked these blogs to her Facebook page.
While I find these actions reprehensible I recognize that this is the age in which we now live, and that as your pastors we need to serve you as these things occur. I trust as you read this account you will find that we have acted in a manner that first and foremost appropriately protects our children and secondarily, cares for a man who has committed a crime, is paying the price that society rightly demands but who also is now a brother in Christ that deserves the same grace, mercy and love that God has undeservedly and unreservedly bestowed on each and every one of us through the gospel.
In some ways I think this is a crucial moment in our life together. How we choose to respond to situations like this will speak loudly to our understanding of the gospel, community, love for our neighbors and our obligations as Christians regarding biblical speech. I type these words trusting that our response will be one that adorns the gospel and glorifies God because I believe with all my heart that that’s the kind of people we are. It is a privilege to serve as your pastor.
With affection, Mickey
Attached document from Pastor Nick Swan March 7, 2013
Church Family, Kevin Davis, a member of Crossway, is a registered sex offender. Kevin and his wife, Jenny, have been attending the church since October of 2009. We are sharing this with all of you because a former member of Crossway recently participated in a blog post publicizing Kevin’s conviction and attendance at Crossway.
This post has since been linked to on Facebook and is making the rounds. We recognize in the internet age that news travels fast and often is not accurate. We also recognize that in the absence of information speculation often wins the day. Rather than waiting for all of you to come to us with questions, we would like to explain to the best of our abilities how we have sought to protect our children and care for Kevin and Jenny as members of Crossway.
Kevin committed a sexual offense against his daughter the fall of 2009. He was charged with a sexual offense October 3, 2009. He was already divorced from his first wife at the time of the offense and all contact with his daughter was immediately severed. Due to his crime and subsequent conviction it will remain severed until she is 18 years of age.
This offense did not take place at Crossway and was not committed against a child at Crossway. His offense happened before he was introduced to Crossway and was against his daughter.
David Clinard, a former member of Crossway, saw the news story about Kevin. Kevin was a former karate student of David’s and so David contacted Kevin to see how he was doing and asked if he would like to meet with a pastor. Kevin agreed to meet with me (Nick) and did mid-October 2009.
I immediately notified the other pastors and our administrator of my meetings with Kevin and of the charges against him. I met with Kevin and then with he and Jenny, who was then his girlfriend of 3 years. Kevin freely acknowledged his wrong doing and openly shared about his history and how his choices had led him to this sin.
I shared the gospel with them over several meetings. Both of them made professions of faith and began to attend Crossway on Sunday mornings during October/November of 2009.
Throughout the early stages of Kevin’s attendance he attended with Jenny and was required to sit with David Clinard or myself during the meetings. He arrived at the beginning of the service and left immediately after the service ended. He did not engage in any other church activities.
Starting in October of 2009 and for most of 2010 I met with Kevin and Jenny, counseled with him regarding his past, walked through pre-marital counseling with them and pastored them through Kevin’s criminal trial. He was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a minor in September of 2010. He was sentenced to 3 years of probation and a minimum of 10 years on the registered sex offenders list.
After the conviction and sentencing, we had a clearer picture of Kevin’s future and began to discuss what involvement at Crossway might look like for someone that has committed this crime. After consulting and being advised by lawyers who specialize in the area of sex offenders and church life, we entered into a covenant with Kevin. This covenant outlined how Kevin would be allowed to interact with others at Crossway.
It was also at this time that we began talking about the idea of allowing Kevin and Jenny to build relationships with others in the church by attending a Care Group. During the Spring of 2011 I approached David and Cheryl Elliott and asked them if they would be willing to have Kevin and Jenny join their group. We believed David and Cheryl were excellent candidates for taking on a unique situation like this. The group was relatively small and none of the children were young enough to need childcare, which eliminated the difficulties surrounding childcare. David and Cheryl agreed and so I visited the group and spoke with all of the adults in the group. I discussed the details of Kevin’s history with them. I explained to them the details of the covenant Kevin had signed and gave them copies of the covenant to read.
I expressed our desire to protect their children as well as the other children at CW. I also expressed our desire to allow Kevin and Jenny to integrate into church life in a meaningful but limited way. We believed that between the covenant limiting Kevin’s interactions with others, pastoral accountability, the accountability of his CG, and Jenny’s accountability, as well as the normal precautions that are taken to protect the children of Crossway, that we could allow Kevin and Jenny to begin engaging in a limited but meaningful way while protecting our children.
The Care Group agreed to have Kevin and Jenny join and they did so late Spring 2011. It was also decided at that time that if a new family with children sought to join the group that we would inform them of Kevin’s conviction and allow them to decide whether they wanted to attend the group. On three separate occasions families sought to join the group and each time we informed them of Kevin’s conviction.
Over the Summer of 2012 it was suggested that we notify the Security Team of Kevin’s conviction. The Security Team was taking over responsibility for monitoring children’s ministry and we thought this was a wise and reasonable precaution to take. They were informed late summer 2012.
One aspect of church life that Kevin served in that we would not repeat would be Kevin serving as an usher. Kevin and Jenny became members of Crossway June of 2010. Kevin began serving as an usher shortly thereafter. At that time a verbal commitment was in place limiting where Kevin could be, but not a written covenant. Pastors and our administrator (who oversees the ushers) were aware of Kevin’s history, but no one else had yet been notified. Kevin’s role on the team was limited to the upstairs, which he was free to be in, but we were unwise not to see that ushers are given a degree of trust that might have placed a child at risk.
A couple at Crossway approached us during Kevin’s tenure as an usher. They had seen his picture on the registered sex offenders website and were concerned that he was serving as an usher. We informed them of the restrictions we had placed upon Kevin and that we believed those were sufficient. They were satisfied with our approach.
However, in hindsight we believe we should have erred more on the side of caution. We regret this decision and would not make it again moving forward. Kevin served as an usher until October of 2012.
Another oversight was that we did not inform Bob and Julie Moore who oversee Children’s Ministry. Again, if we had it to do over again we would have informed Bob and Julie and will do so in the future if a similar situation arises.
Throughout this process we have sought to protect our children by strictly limiting Kevin’s involvement in the church while at the same time seeking to allow Kevin and Jenny to have a limited but meaningful Christian life at Crossway. By the grace of God, I believe we have done so.
How do we proceed? First, please show compassion and care for Kevin and Jenny. They have sought to comply with every request we have made of them since our first meeting. They have both walked humbly and openly throughout this process. They have shown every sign of genuine faith as they have continued to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. I could not commend them more highly. They are a wonderful couple. If you do not yet know them, please get to know them. They are loved by their Care Group and all those who know them closely. They love God and are dearly love by God.
Second, in hindsight, there are things we would do differently. If you disagree with how we have chosen to handle this situation, please aim your frustration at us not at Kevin and Jenny or any other member of Crossway. We made the decisions and we are responsible for them.
Lastly, we recognize that this is not the only way to have handled this situation. We have had long and numerous discussions about how broadly to share this information along the way. We came down on a policy that we believed provided both real protection for our children and a limited but loving context where Kevin and Jenny could grow as disciples. That being said, we are learning as we go. We do not have all of the answers and we are open to hearing alternative ways to handle situations like this in the future. Obviously, given a topic of this magnitude a letter is insufficient to fully anticipate and answer all of the questions that you may have. Please know our commitment to hear your feedback and answer any and all questions you may have.
In grace, Nick, on behalf of the Pastoral Team