Steve Jesmer, Lead Pastor of a N.H. Church, Sentenced for Sexually Assaulting a Minor

"The victim admitted that for months after the attack she would take half hour long showers saying, 'I scrubbed myself until I bled.' "

nh1.com

https://twitter.com/RoryLawrence/status/636335679165857792

Screen Shot – Twitter

WARNING: This post, along with the links, contains graphic details of sexual assault.

This is a difficult post to write because a pastor's terrible sin has devastated so many lives, including his own. No doubt Pastor Steve Jesmer desperately wishes he had followed his own advice of sowing good seed in order to reap a good harvest… 

Steve Jesmer, Jr. was Lead Pastor of a New England church plant called The Dialogue Church, located in Manchester, New Hampshire. According to Linkedin, Jesmer began serving in this capacity in April 2007. Then on June 7, 2007, the church filed as a non-profit corporation.

From all outward appearances, the church was successful, with Jesmer's persona being that of a 'hip' pastor (a la Mark Driscoll).

As I looked through some of the Tweets sent out since the church established its Twitter account in November 2008, I was struck by how active this congregation was. As an example, Dialogue Church hosted a 'Hope Weekend' last year. It was an outreach to those who were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. The Manchester Ink Link promoted this event and included the following information about Pastor Steve Jesmer.

https://manchesterinklink.com/ministry-hope-dialogue-church-hosts-hope-weekend-2016/

From a dope dealer to a hope dealer

Then on August 22, 2016, Steve Jesmer, was arrested. According to the CBS Affiliate in Boston, Jesmer was

charged with three counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, three counts of felonious sexual assault and one count of witness tampering.

7News Boston reported that Jesmer turned himself into police on Monday night (August 22nd). It further revealed that:

Manchester Police said they have evidence Jesmer had sex with a 13-year-old girl in his church office… Police said there had been prior sexual contact at the girl’s house and he allegedly asked the girl to keep quiet.

The New Hampshire Union Leader provided details about the sexual assault. Jesmer was 38 years old at the time of the crime. His bail was set at $100,000.

According to the article, another pastor acknowledged in a Facebook post that Jesmer had been arrested (see screen shot below).


http://www.unionleader.com/crime/manchester-church-pastor-charged-with-sex-crimes-involving-minor-20160823


The above link no longer works, and almost everything on the church Facebook page has been removed.

Another source – WMUR Channel 9 – provided the following information:

According to court records, Jesmer allegedly told a fellow pastor in late June that he felt bad about something he did, and he described his actions as stupid, saying that "he had crossed the line."

Police say the other pastor contacted DCYF, and Jesmer was fired for what's referred to in court paperwork as "moral failure."

"I can confirm that the pastor at church, the current pastor, they've been overwhelmingly supportive of the investigation," O'Keefe said. "They've worked hand in hand with our investigators and continue to do so."

Police said they're continuing their investigation to confirm that there are no other victims.

Then on May 31, 2017, WMUR Channel 9 reported the following:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A girl told a judge Wednesday that she forgives her former pastor as he was sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting her.

Steven Jesmer was sentenced to at least five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to seven charges. Prosecutors said he betrayed his victim's trust, and the sentencing judge said he took advantage of his positions for his own selfish needs.

"I trusted you," the teenage victim said. "I looked up to you as a father figure, and I bet that made it easier for you to take advantage of me."

The girl described herself as a broken person. Prosecutors said she was assaulted by Jesmer last year while he was serving as a pastor at the Dialogue Church in Manchester.

This Channel 9 article (see link above) reported Jesmer's words at the sentencing, which were as follows:

"I'm terribly sorry," I certainly didn't set out to hurt anyone, but I know I've destroyed people's lives."

"I'm beyond sorry and would do anything to take that day back. You deserve better. Your family deserves better. I should have known better."

Apparently, the Judge explained that he was hesitant to accept the plea deal, but he allowed it to spare the victim of further pain.

The Union Leader provided some additional information about the sentencing. (see below)

Jesmer, 38, was the pastor of the Dialogue Church until last summer, when fellow church leaders heard about the allegation and contacted authorities. He was arrested last August and was free on bail until his court appearance on Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault, one charge of witness tampering and four misdemeanor sexual assault charges in exchange for a prison sentence of five to 15 years, said Michael Valentine, first assistant Hillsborough County Attorney.

“My concern was her (the victim’s) well being and not having to go through a trial,” Valentine said.

He said about 10 to 15 members of the church were present during the hearing. Jesmer was convicted under a provision in the state’s rape law that prohibits sexual conduct by a person who has authority over another.

According to previous news accounts, the assaults took place in the church office. The girl repeatedly refused but agreed after fearing she had angered Jesmer.

Jesmer’s wife was in court during the sentencing.

Another source (www.nh1.com) reported quite a few additional details about the case. Here are some of them.

The victim also read a victim impact statement, directed at Jesmer…

She said she’s missed 50 days of school this year due to anxiety attacks…

The victim admitted that for months after the attack she would take half hour long showers saying, "I scrubbed myself until I bled."

She said in the months and weeks leading up to the assault, Jesmer and his family supported her. She said she was going through a rough time, and he was there for her when she wanted to commit suicide. During that time, he came to visit her or drive her to the church every day. The victim said she was making great progress until the sexual assault and she hit "the lowest point I could reach."

"I can admit that I’m broken," she said through sobs.

Despite all this, she said she forgives Jesmer.

"You made a mistake just like every other human," she said. "I don’t want to hold any resentment toward you because that’s not what God wants."

Jesmer reacted by putting his head down and he appeared to be crying.

"I pray for you and your family’s healing daily," the victim said, recognizing that it has affected her and his family.

After the victim spoke, Jesmer was given an opportunity to address his victim, her family, and the judge. He admitted that he destroyed several people's lives by making this terrible decision. He then stated:

"I’m very sorry. I thank you for your forgiveness. I don’t deserve it," Jesmer said to the victim and her mom. "I failed you. I failed my city and my church."

According to the nh1.com report:

Superior Court Judge John Kissinger praised the victim saying she showed incredible strength, courage and bravery. Speaking directly to her he reminded her, "There is nothing you did that remotely contributed to or caused this."

Kissinger also spoke to Jesmer, saying although he has supported the resolution, he has some serious reservations about the light sentence, saying Jesmer was in an authoritative position as a pastor and should have been a support system.

"The reality is, I would not have accepted this but for the support of the victim’s family because I think prisons exist for a reason," Kissinger said. "The reason is to isolate those who are the most dangerous. And anyone who would act as a predator with a child is someone who needs to be removed and isolated from society."

At a plea and sentencing hearing at Hillsborough County Superior Court North on Wednesday morning County Attorney Michael Valentine described the facts of the case to the judge.

You can read those details here.

Back on March 4, 2017, The Dialogue Church sent out this Tweet:

https://twitter.com/Dialogue_Church/status/838033559646519296

The Granite United Church, which is a multi-site church, includes the Manchester, New Hampshire location on its website.

It is frightening just how quickly the lives of a pastor, a victim, a pastor's wife and children, congregants, and a community can change forever because of sexual sin. Steve Jesmer went from being a dope dealer to a hope dealer to a prisoner whose name will remain on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life.

May Steve Jesmer and each of the individuals he hurt be brought closer to the Lord in the midst of their tremendous pain. Please join Dee and me in praying for them.


Comments

Steve Jesmer, Lead Pastor of a N.H. Church, Sentenced for Sexually Assaulting a Minor — 150 Comments

  1. It seems as if life is something like hell for way too many children and teenagers at way too many churches. Pretty sure Jesus isn’t be too pleased, inasmuch as He said it’d be better to drown yourself than hurt a little one.

  2. I can’t help but think of what the pastor said. “I should have known better” is an understatement regarding his actions. He deliberately chose to harm another human being who was already suffering. I feel sorry for his victim, especially when she called what he did to her a “mistake”. THAT was not a mistake. WHAT he did to that child was a result of his own selfish desires. He KNEW it was wrong. He KNEW she was 13. He KNEW she had been having problems.

  3. Sam wrote:

    I can’t help but think of what the pastor said. “I should have known better” is an understatement regarding his actions. He deliberately chose to harm another human being who was already suffering. I feel sorry for his victim, especially when she called what he did to her a “mistake”. THAT was not a mistake. WHAT he did to that child was a result of his own selfish desires. He KNEW it was wrong. He KNEW she was 13. He KNEW she had been having problems.

    The thirteen year old won’t be thinking it’s a, ” mistake”, when she matures. Hopefully, she is given good secular counseling, away from the enablers presently in her life.

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  5. “Steve Jesmer Jr Retweeted
    Perry Noble‏ @perrynoble 25 Sep 2014

    God knew every sinful, foolish decision we would make…and still loves us, calls us to Him and pours out His grace upon us!”

    There’s just something twisted about this theology when you insert the sins of Jesmer and Noble here. Nothing about repentance or pastors living a life beyond reproach. Noble’s statement and Jesmer’s affirmation of it pushes the “grace” message out of bounds … a truth that becomes a half-truth when applied to moral failures in the pulpit. Someone once said that over-emphasis of a long-neglected truth becomes heresy. The current brand of reformed theology does not balance grace, grace, grace preaching with Grace, an encounter with the living Christ who can help you overcome sin by the Holy Spirit within you. Gospel preachers should know this.

  6. It is good to hear that the other pastors at this church did the right thing by going directly to the police. This shows the victim and her family that they believe her. It could have horribly gone the other way. May she find peace on her road to healing.

  7. “From all outward appearances, the church was successful, with Jesmer’s persona being that of a ‘hip’ pastor (a la Mark Driscoll).”

    Potty-mouth Driscoll can take responsibility for creating a new tribe of American “pastors” … I call them Driscollites. They are alive and well in SBC-YRR church plants and elsewhere; Driscoll’s legacy. “Hip” sells; it’s a marketing gimmick used to attract Generations X, Y, and Z.

    Speaking of Driscoll. He has cleaned himself up a bit and hanging out with Charismatics now. He preached last weekend at a mega-Assembly of God church near me: https://www.facebook.com/jamesriver/photos/a.341436369372915.1073741835.195444420638778/714957262020822/?type=3&theater

  8. Law Prof wrote:

    He said it’d be better to drown yourself than hurt a little one

    LP, it’s amazing how many wayward “pastors” have skipped over Jesus’ warning in this regard. It’s like those passages don’t exist or apply to them. Of course, if you hang out in Paul’s epistles all your life – twisting what he had to say – you will never see the words in red in the Gospels.

  9. Deb
    Great post. Interesting insight into the court process.

    I had to laugh at the church leaders who said not “to gossip” after the arrest. If church leaders are reading this, I have one thing to say. ” Codswallop.” This is low-level, knee jerk Christianese.

    Darn straight the people in the church needed to talk. They were probably struggling how they could have had a pervert in the pulpit and not known it. This IS a time for talking, mourning, assessing, etc.

    I sure hope the church has supported the young victim. She is going to need professional counseling and other forms of support. I hope a settlement was reached the victim and her family.

  10. Sam wrote:

    I can’t help but think of what the pastor said. “I should have known better”

    Really! A 38 year old married church pastor didn’t know better than to force himself on a 13 year old girl?

  11. Sam wrote:

    I can’t help but think of what the pastor said. “I should have known better” is an understatement regarding his actions.

    Yeah, that made the Holy Ghost within me start kicking!

    I felt a holy anger start to surface at this quote “Jesmer allegedly told a fellow pastor in late June that he felt bad about something he did, and he described his actions as stupid, saying that “he had crossed the line.”

    “felt bad”?! … “stupid”?! … “crossed the line”?!

    Jesmer is not a lost teenager with raging hormones, for God’s sake! He is an adult, with the title of “lead pastor” (or was).

  12. dee wrote:

    I had to laugh at the church leaders who said not “to gossip” after the arrest. If church leaders are reading this, I have one thing to say. ” Codswallop.” This is low-level, knee jerk Christianese.

    And to church members in this place, I shout from my housetop “GOSSIP! Sound the alarm! Warn others! Get the heck out of there!” Sure, the pastor who committed this sin has been removed, but the preaching/teaching style and the atmosphere it creates is still dangerous. Relaying facts to prevent another poor soul from being ensnared is not gossip.

  13. Deb

    Just as we thought yesterday, this guy did not really have an education, even theological. He apparently attended Boston Baptist College.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/pastor-steve-jesmer-2a12ba8/

    Having grown up in the area, I never heard of it. Well, just as I suspected, it is an unaccredited college that graduated 14 folks in 2014.

    https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/boston-baptist-college/academic-life/academic-majors/

    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place.What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.

    Dialogue Church is not under the Granite Church umbrella. I wonder what sort of leadership they have…

  14. What saddens me is that he chose the most vulnerable of victims-a suicidal thirteen year old girl, not woman, but girl. Where was his empathy? On what planet does he think this behavior would not compound her despair.
    I doubt the victim has had time to process what happened. Eventually she will get angry, very angry. My hope for her is that she doesn’t displace the anger to herself or people who support her. Her attacker has gotten off light and will not serve much time. I pray she never has to encounter him again-ever.
    I believe in forgiveness, but if her support system doesn’t allow her room to rage, cry and process the horrible things he did to her, she could end up more fragile and vulnerable than ever. Healthy anger will be a key step in allowing her to recognize her value and a tool to protect herself from an unhealthy boundary violation in the future.
    Thank you for showing support to so many victims!

  15. One of the news articles called this “black collar crime.” I have never heard that term before. Pretty accurate. And so very tragic.

  16. dee wrote:

    I had to laugh at the church leaders who said not “to gossip” after the arrest. If church leaders are reading this, I have one thing to say. ” Codswallop.” This is low-level, knee jerk Christianese.
    Darn straight the people in the church needed to talk. They were probably struggling how they could have had a pervert in the pulpit and not known it. This IS a time for talking, mourning, assessing, etc.

    Exactly! Talking about it helps to determine if there are other victims. Talking about it helps parents have conversations with their kids about sex abuse. Talking about it allows church members who never would have seen this coming process what happened and learn how they can support the victim. Staying silent about it only allows questions to fester and causes more problems. Why organizations try to hide the truth is beyond my understanding. At some point the truth will be revealed, and when it does, people will be even more angry that the truth was hidden for so long.

  17. dee wrote:

    Deb
    Just as we thought yesterday, this guy did not really have an education, even theological. He apparently attended Boston Baptist College.
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/pastor-steve-jesmer-2a12ba8/
    Having grown up in the area, I never heard of it. Well, just as I suspected, it is an unaccredited college that graduated 14 folks in 2014.
    https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/boston-baptist-college/academic-life/academic-majors/
    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place.What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.
    Dialogue Church is not under the Granite Church umbrella. I wonder what sort of leadership they have…

    Acts 29 and the defunct Mars Hill Church embodied this sort of pastoral model. They rewarded people who grew church bodies first then went (if they did at all) to seminary. That’s what Driscoll did.

    This just strikes me as symptomatic of a larger American trend of valuing business savviness over formally trained and gifted pastoral skill. Seminaries aren’t perfect, but there are good reasons they continue to exist for hundreds (even thousands) of years as institutions.

    A good friend of mine from my seminary years told me years ago that he thought out West (he’s from Colorado) most churches would accept a pastor who speaks well and is good at building up the “business.” That was a criticism, not an endorsement. I think he is right.

    On the flip-side, if churches want pastors better trained and vetted, the pay needs to be there. I attended a conference recently where a leading evangelical financial voice cited the statistic that 50% of evangelical pastors make less than $50K a year. It is hard to justify carrying over 30K in seminary debt for a job like that if you want to provide for your family as well.

  18. Mae wrote:

    The thirteen year old won’t be thinking it’s a, ” mistake”, when she matures. Hopefully, she is given good secular counseling, away from the enablers presently in her life.

    Amen to that.

  19. Max wrote:

    I felt a holy anger start to surface at this quote “Jesmer allegedly told a fellow pastor in late June that he felt bad about something he did, and he described his actions as stupid, saying that “he had crossed the line.”

    You’re not the only one. He didn’t cheat on a test. He didn’t get drunk and act like an idiot. He didn’t say something racist or off-color. He tortured, silenced and had his way with a child. That’s not a “stupid thing”, that is harming a “little one”. I’m surprised being the lead pastor, he never read what happens to those who harm “little ones” or about how he is going to be judged more harshly (as a teacher) than the average churchgoer.

  20. @ Ann:

    She is still too young to process it all. She will become angry ( rightfully so ). Just hoping she is receiving counseling.

  21. dee wrote:

    What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.

    Oh, but he was cool, had a touch of charisma, and the gift of gab! Sign him up!! It’s amazing how many church folks love pastors with checkered histories – a “lead pastor” they can identify who makes them feel more comfortable with their own past (and current) bad behavior. Unfortunately, many of these church leaders still have checkered lives while they preach!

    This brings up a problem. The church is rapidly heading toward post-denomination America. The only oversight these groups has is what they set up themselves. I’m not a fan of organized religion, but most mainline denominations do have some sort of expectation and accountability system in place for their member churches. In my community, any Joe Blow can walk into town and hang out a church sign; he doesn’t need any ministerial credentials. In fact one did – after one month of holding services at a local coffee shop, the crowd comprised of Generation X, Y and Z is running about 100. I’m keeping my eye on him.

  22. Max wrote:

    In my community, any Joe Blow can walk into town and hang out a church sign; he doesn’t need any ministerial credentials. In fact one did – after one month of holding services at a local coffee shop, the crowd comprised of Generation X, Y and Z is running about 100. I’m keeping my eye on him.

    Moreover, if they do something criminal, they wait about a year then waltz back in claiming they are forgiven and everybody should never talk about it again while paying them big bucks to do the same thing over again.

  23. GSD wrote:

    One of the news articles called this “black collar crime.”

    “Black” is certainly an apt description. It doesn’t get any darker than a pastor molesting a child. Paul got pretty frank in one case involving sexual sin in church “Turn him over to Satan!”

  24. ishy wrote:

    they wait about a year then waltz back in claiming they are forgiven and everybody should never talk about it again while paying them big bucks to do the same thing over again

    Church folks are some of the most gullible people on the planet. While Driscoll didn’t fail morally (except potty mouth preaching and writing pornographic marriage books), I don’t recall him actually repenting of his various sins at Mars Hill before launching an unrepentant comeback. Pastors who take the church for a ride are unqualified to minister again, in my humble (but accurate) opinion. Forgive them? Yes! Restore them to ministry? NO!!

  25. Max wrote:

    While Driscoll didn’t fail morally (except potty mouth preaching and writing pornographic marriage books), I don’t recall him actually repenting of his various sins at Mars Hill before launching an unrepentant comeback. Pastors who take the church for a ride are unqualified to minister again, in my humble (but accurate) opinion. Forgive them? Yes! Restore them to ministry? NO!!

    I consider stealing most of the money the church gave in offerings then running away with it a moral failure. And then there was using church money to promote personal book sales. I also consider 90% of what he says evidence of moral depravity.

  26. Deb wrote:

    @ Kathi:
    Yes, it was good that they did the right thing.

    I do think churches in general are getting better at going to the authorities after the fact. Not so good at noticing the grooming and heading it off at the pass.
    Then there’s a very troublesome warning by the new pastor to the pew sitters not to gossip. Why say this? Gossip about what? Makes me wonder if someone suspected something rotten and did nothing.

  27. dee wrote:

    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place

    Whew! Looks like a bunch of guys with an overload of adrenaline and testosterone there! Check out the 2-minute video clip of Granite’s recent “2017 Warrior Conference” … http://www.warriorconference.com/

    This ain’t your grandpa’s church!

  28. Ann wrote:

    Where was his empathy?

    Where was normalcy? Nothing normal about a 38-yr.-old going after a pubescent teen girl. Requires highly qualified professional help. Are there red flags? Youth workers, counselors, teachers, coaches, pastors – one wonders if the problem people go for the career to experience their abnormality, chase their certifiably criminal fantasy.

    GSD wrote:

    One of the news articles called this “black collar crime.”

    And, they accurately called it crime, as opposed to “moral failure”.

  29. Max wrote:

    Church folks are some of the most gullible people on the planet.

    From psychologist Richard Walter, who with the Vidocq Society solved the Rev. Ryan Erickson Case:

    “I like giving people the sense of reality, opposed to just the myth that everything is wonderful. There are bad people, but there are a lot of good people, too. People have to look for warning signs and know how to protect themselves, instead of advertising to be a victim.”

  30. GSD wrote:

    One of the news articles called this “black collar crime.”

    “black collar crime” as opposed to “moral failure”:

    The moral failure label is a leveler. Everyone has moral failures but few are criminals.

  31. dee wrote:

    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place.What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.

    Well, the apostles never graduated from a prestigious university. Neither did Jesus or Paul, right? Why can’t you just take God at his Word in the Bible?

  32. JYJames wrote:

    Are there red flags? Youth workers, counselors, teachers, coaches, pastors – one wonders if the problem people go for the career to experience their abnormality, chase their certifiably criminal fantasy.

    Please continue to pray for me & my team as we seek to appoint a new youth worker for some very sensitive work. We do have a lot of eccentrics in my profession, & we are aware we are a target.

  33. JYJames wrote:

    People have to look for warning signs and know how to protect themselves

    Much of discernment is just simple observation – keeping your eyes and ears open. Moral failure by church leaders should just not slip up on a church … in most cases, the flags are there.

  34. Muff Potter wrote:

    Well, the apostles never graduated from a prestigious university. Neither did Jesus or Paul, right? Why can’t you just take God at his Word in the Bible?
    </blockquote
    ……..

    It's the credentials of a person's moral compass that needs evaluating. Not sure how that is accomplished.

    Yesterday in MA. a priest was given parole after serving 12 years in prison for raping multiple young boys. Shanley was known as a, "street priest" , supposedly ministering to the , down and out.
    Anyway, MA was the heart of the RCC pedophile priest scandal. Point is, they were all college educated, seminary graduated men. They had the credentials but we're predators.

    I don't know how we check out pastors, church leaders, except by their behavior. Certainly a criminal background check should be utilized too, as well as checking the state/local sex offender registry.

  35. Muff Potter wrote:

    Well, the apostles never graduated from a prestigious university.

    Scripture records “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

    The most important qualification for a pastor is that have been with Jesus. The church is too quick to ordain men as pastors and deacons who have not experienced the living Christ. Is the calling and anointing there for ministry? Or do they come in the back door, as a young New Calvinist pastor told me.

    P.S. Graduation from a seminary does not equal ministry qualification. Having the credentials to preach does not necessarily mean you are a Gospel preacher.

  36. Max wrote:

    I felt a holy anger start to surface at this quote “Jesmer allegedly told a fellow pastor in late June that he felt bad about something he did, and he described his actions as stupid, saying that “he had crossed the line.”
    “felt bad”?! … “stupid”?! … “crossed the line”?!
    Jesmer is not a lost teenager with raging hormones, for God’s sake! He is an adult, with the title of “lead pastor” (or was).

    His description of what he did sounds more like that of a frat boy ashamed that he had a few too many foamy ones and then made a drunken, unrequited pass at his best friend’s girlfriend. Does not sound like a grown man pushing 40 who has any real conception of the enormity of what he’s done.

    dee wrote:

    I had to laugh at the church leaders who said not “to gossip” after the arrest. If church leaders are reading this, I have one thing to say. ” Codswallop.” This is low-level, knee jerk Christianese.

    No gossip? What the heck? What gossip? Do they mean talking about how horribly their pastor behaved? How he destroyed forever the childhood and innocence of a young girl in the congregation? How her family’s joy is pretty well destroyed along with it? How perhaps there are more young victims in the congregation afraid to come forward, as paedophiles usually go after more than one child? How perhaps the whole church system they are part of didn’t provide sufficient safeguards to prevent such evil occurring among them? What are they supposed to do, just shut up, smile, and let the show go on?

    My rule of thumb: When a church says “No gossip”, just replace the word “gossip” with “truth”.

  37. Beakerj wrote:

    Please continue to pray for me & my team as we seek to appoint a new youth worker for some very sensitive work. We do have a lot of eccentrics in my profession, & we are aware we are a target.

    I will be praying for you. Be sure to watch out for applicants who refer to children/youth as “special” or “innocent” (or any other pure or angelic-based words) as these are key language markers of a pedophile. In addition, be wary of applicants who are seen only hanging around a certain age demographic or gender. Pedophiles usually go after a certain sex (though some are bi-sexual) and a certain age group.

  38. @ Max & Mae
    Potter’s comment up-thread was just more of his annoying tom-foolery and his over inflated attempt at wit and parody.

  39. Max wrote:

    JYJames wrote:
    People have to look for warning signs and know how to protect themselves
    Much of discernment is just simple observation – keeping your eyes and ears open. Moral failure by church leaders should just not slip up on a church … in most cases, the flags are there.

    I think other stuff must cloud people’s thinking.
    I wondered why would the girl’s parents would allow the pastor to get so involved in their daughter’s life?
    Perhaps they were so distracted by her emotional issues, it kept them from seeing , red flags , with this creep. Or maybe just being naive was a factor too.
    I don’t know what ity like to have a troubled child. Still, I can imagine being distracted by it.

  40. Muff Potter wrote:

    attempt at wit and parody

    Hey Muff, I got you! Speaking of “parody”, in case you haven’t seen the following piece on relevant-contemporary church, segments of it ring pretty close to the matter at hand … especially the part where the associate minister reveals his tattoo “so you know I have a past.” Yep, a lot of these guys are dragging their past into pulpits, while still in the grips of its sin. You can’t help someone out if you are still in.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfTjcz7ys7I

  41. Muff Potter wrote:

    @ Max & Mae
    Potter’s comment up-thread was just more of his annoying tom-foolery and his over inflated attempt at wit and parody.

    🙂 Okie dokie.

  42. “staying away from gossip”

    Typical.

    Ya’ll, if anything like this ever happens I plan to ‘gossip’ constantly.

    Is it me, or do a lot of these problematic pastors have a past that they have been ‘delivered’ from?

  43. Sam wrote:

    I can’t help but think of what the pastor said. “I should have known better” is an understatement regarding his actions.

    Of course He KNEW it was wrong! She was in a vulnerable position, contemplating suicide apparently, and so he assaulted her? He’s 38 years old. I agree that’s such BS.

  44. Mae wrote:

    I don’t know how we check out pastors, church leaders, except by their behavior. Certainly a criminal background check should be utilized too,…

    Then there was the case of a young man who witnessed and consented to the murder of an innocent Christian man. Afterwards he went house to house, dragged off both Christian men and women and committed them to prison. He continued to make threats and murder against Christians and even wanted to go to local places of worship and kidnap both Christian men and women if he found any there. I guess a young man fitting this profile wouldn’t qualify for the ministry or would he?

  45. @ dee:
    One of the best things I ever heard in a church I attended where an elder was caught in adultery and dismissed:

    We know you will talk, just be sure to talk about the right things. Support the wronged and pray for them. Pray for the elder as he deals with the consequences of his sin. Don’t spend all your time talking about what you missed, but do examine yourself and make sure you are ethical in all your relationships.
    Ten years later, the former elder and his wife were still happily together. Their adult children and grandchildren still attend. It is one of the cases where I really thought something was handled well.

  46. Muff Potter wrote:

    dee wrote:
    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place.What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.
    Well, the apostles never graduated from a prestigious university. Neither did Jesus or Paul, right? Why can’t you just take God at his Word in the Bible?

    This brings up an interesting view of that day and time. Most Jewish boys were sent to study with a Rabbi at age 7. If they showed exceptional promise, they continued on the Rabbi track after age 14. The Apostles Jesus chose were not that particular cream of the crop. Instead they went to work in the family business. But as we see in scripture, this is actually a good thing for all concerned.

    The educated Pharisee who hunted Christians needed a more dramatic rescue. And irony (and I think Gods bit of humor) this Pharisee ended up spreading the Good News to mostly Gentiles. 🙂

  47. dee wrote:

    Deb
    Just as we thought yesterday, this guy did not really have an education, even theological. He apparently attended Boston Baptist College.

    The tiny school is affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship (Fundamentalist Baptist).

    Jesmer’s ‘Dialogue Church’ was praised in the BBFI Tribune several years ago:

    http://www.tribune.org/files/oct10trib.pdf page 25

    “Granite State Baptist Church (Pastor Anthony Milas), The Journey Baptist Church (Pastor Rob Willis), and The Dialogue Church (Pastor Steve Jesmer), all BBFI churches committed
    to rejuvenating the spiritual landscape of New England, represent a larger network of fastmoving, engaging, and energetic churches that have all started up since 2001.”

  48. Sam wrote:

    Be sure to watch out for applicants who refer to children/youth as “special” or “innocent” (or any other pure or angelic-based words) as these are key language markers of a pedophile.

    Thankfully that would ring all my bells but it is a good reminder.

  49. Tragic!

    But compare this to all of the nonsense that went on at SGM churches. All the games. The hiding. The bullying of victims. Allowing abusers to escape and abuse again.

    And still no admission. No accounting. Nothing.

    This shows how these terrible things should be handled.

  50. Jerome wrote:

    The tiny school is affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship (Fundamentalist Baptist).

    These folks have historically been “King James Only” … referring to the KJV version of the Bible. Extremely fundamentalist. Jerry Falwell graduated from one of their schools and was their primary star.

    Dialogue and Granite churches don’t fit the BBF mold. A strange alliance, but the American church is getting stranger by the day.

  51. Muff Potter wrote:

    Potter’s comment up-thread was just more of his annoying tom-foolery

    Really you should just stop associating with that Potter fellow. I Cor 5 Matt 18
    Because I say so. Heb 13:17!!!
    🙂

  52. Beakerj wrote:

    JYJames wrote: Are there red flags?

    Youth workers, counselors, teachers, coaches, pastors – one wonders if the problem people go for the career to experience their abnormality, chase their certifiably criminal fantasy.

    Please continue to pray for me & my team as we seek to appoint a new youth worker for some very sensitive work. We do have a lot of eccentrics in my profession, & we are aware we are a target.

    Praying!

  53. @ Max:

    I’m with ya’ Max. The vid you linked to is both ludicrous and funny at the same time. Sad too because they have no beauty and they have no haunting. They and their shtick will dry up and blow away like so many Walmart bags snarled in a chain-link fence.

    Here’s a photo essay with music that is both haunting and beautiful.
    If you scroll down in the comment section, you’ll see that even an atheist was moved…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSif77IVQdY

  54. @ Max:

    The guy who crafted the essay and wove Krauss’s music into it is every bit as good as Ken Burns on his best day (my opinion).

  55. Ken G wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    I don’t know how we check out pastors, church leaders, except by their behavior. Certainly a criminal background check should be utilized too,…
    Then there was the case of a young man who witnessed and consented to the murder of an innocent Christian man. Afterwards he went house to house, dragged off both Christian men and women and committed them to prison. He continued to make threats and murder against Christians and even wanted to go to local places of worship and kidnap both Christian men and women if he found any there. I guess a young man fitting this profile wouldn’t qualify for the ministry or would he?

    I don’t know that there’s any valid comparison between Paul of Tarsus who was regularly beaten down for his faith, whipped, shipwrecked, imprisoned and eventually executed (and who gave up a comfortable life as the most brilliant and famous theological student of his generation and highly regarded church leader) and some punk with a half baked education, trendy hair, a nice salary with benefits, worshipful followers, and an elevated stage. Not much to compare there.

  56. Max wrote:

    While Driscoll didn’t fail morally…

    Oh, yes, he did.

    He bullied, slandered, purloined church funds for his own authoring career, and cheated believers in Africa out of money purportedly collected for them. He taught heavily on the need for others to submit to oversight and church discipline and, when faced with it himself, ran away in rebellion. It beggars belief that he is even received anywhere as a fellow-believer, let alone that he is given a pulpit and a salary.

    I realise you aren’t suggesting that it doesn’t matter how ungodly a clergyman is just as long as he keeps his trousers* on.

    Sadly… many Christian cultures seem to be persuaded that it doesn’t matter how ungodly a clergyman is as long as he keeps his trousers on. Unless he says something which, if taken out of context, could be interpreted to mean that he once questioned whether Penal_Substitutionary_Atonement was the single ultimate correct fulfilment of all of scribsher. Or unless she preaches.

    * Or “pants” to the left of the Atlantic.

  57. Max wrote:

    I felt a holy anger start to surface at this quote “Jesmer allegedly told a fellow pastor in late June that he felt bad about something he did, and he described his actions as stupid, saying that “he had crossed the line.”

    “Mistakes Were Made…”

  58. Max wrote:

    Oh, but he was cool, had a touch of charisma, and the gift of gab! Sign him up!! It’s amazing how many church folks love pastors with checkered histories – a “lead pastor” they can identify who makes them feel more comfortable with their own past (and current) bad behavior

    Especially those with JUICY (but not too JUICY) Testimonies.

    P.S. In that context, it’s spelled “KEWL!”

  59. Steve Jesmer, Lead Pastor of a N.H. Church, Sentenced for Sexually Assaulting a Minor

    When I read that headline a couple minutes ago, my first reaction was “So what else is new?”

    WHEN YOU SOW GOOD SEED
    YOU WILL REAP A GOOD HARVEST
    PASTOR STEVE JEZMER

    Well, we know where PASTOR Jezmer was sowing his Seed…

  60. Max wrote:

    Dialogue and Granite churches don’t fit the BBF mold. A strange alliance, but the American church is getting stranger by the day.

    “Enemy of my Enemy is My Friend…”

  61. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Yes, Driscoll abused his flock. However, in my mind what Driscoll did to grown adults, pales in comparison to this man sexually assaulting a thirteen year old.

    Sexual assault is in a category all of it’s own.It leaves emotional scars,on the victim, which last a lifetime.

    Driscoll’s congregation got snookered, and yes he robbed the coffers, etc. but as far as we know he never took a piece of a young girls innocence, soul.

  62. Max wrote:

    Dialogue and Granite churches don’t fit the BBF mold. A strange alliance, but the American church is getting stranger by the day.

    Check out the new pastor Anthony Milas on Twitter. He follows a bizarre mix of people:. David Platt, Matt Chandler, Joseph Prince, Brian Houston, Rick Warren, various ARC leader, etc. There’s also an article on the internet about how he used the purpose driven model to turn the church around.

    The national denominational leadership look like the guys that would have a little too much to drink and fall asleep during the Sunday morning sermon their wife dragged them to in Tupelo Mississippi. I’m guessing that Mila’s adopts the fuzzy theology of ARC, the purpose driven business model, the YRR man culture, and visions of grandeur from Prince and Houston. I’m guessing that he’s a narcissistic chameleon. His fashion appears to be Tommy Hilfiger’s “Pentecostal Collection”.

    I also read an article about their beach bash where he baptized 200 people, “Furtick of New Hampshire”.

  63. Mae wrote:

    Sexual assault is in a category all of it’s own

    Certainly it is.

    The problem is that in general ‘christian’ realms, the only thing really considered is sexual sin. But All sexual sin seems to be linked together, equally, as moral failure! That’s a making a mess of morality.

    There are lots of moral failure a pastor can commit, I think is what nick is saying.

    Assault should be a category of its own, and we could call just skipping moral failure here and go straight to crime.

  64. Ken G wrote:

    Then there was the case of a young man who witnessed and consented to the murder of an innocent Christian man. Afterwards he went house to house, dragged off both Christian men and women and committed them to prison. He continued to make threats and murder against Christians and even wanted to go to local places of worship and kidnap both Christian men and women if he found any there. I guess a young man fitting this profile wouldn’t qualify for the ministry or would he?

    And how far exactly should we take the example of Saul/Paul? There are plenty of perfectly good Pastors & leaders who have had very dodgy pasts, & overcome them. Generally they would be the first ones to say '& such was I, please help me to not slip back', & not have an issue with a background check – I think that's one of the signs of genuine repentance actually. I have no problem with 'a past' generally, if the new job does not present the person with an ongoing temptation they can't resist. However, nothing, nothing excuses what this man did & if tighter checks could make a difference then let's go right ahead. Just because God changed Saul into Paul does not mean he does a comparable work in everyone's lives & we are lacking in our duty if we let that cloud our judgement.

  65. Lea wrote:

    Assault should be a category of its own, and we could call just skipping moral failure here and go straight to crime.

    That’s exactly what it is. Skip the, moral failure garbage, and call it what it is. Rape and sexual assault of a minor.

  66. Dave A A wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    Potter’s comment up-thread was just more of his annoying tom-foolery
    Really you should just stop associating with that Potter fellow. I Cor 5 Matt 18
    Because I say so. Heb 13:17!!!

    LOL – Jesus loved hanging with the Potter’s of the world 😉 Me too!

  67. Mae wrote:

    Yes, Driscoll abused his flock.

    Yes. The point being that Driscoll’s actions were moral failings as well.

    I don’t think Nick was meaning to make a comparison to what happened to this child.

  68. Lea wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    Sexual assault is in a category all of it’s own
    Certainly it is.
    The problem is that in general ‘christian’ realms, the only thing really considered is sexual sin. But All sexual sin seems to be linked together, equally, as moral failure! That’s a making a mess of morality.
    There are lots of moral failure a pastor can commit, I think is what nick is saying.
    Assault should be a category of its own, and we could call just skipping moral failure here and go straight to crime.

    This is how the RCC hid the child molestations for so long. Richard Sipes (he was featured in Spotlight) explained that since all sex was taboo for priests it built up a culture of secrecy where all sex was just a moral failure of sorts and molestations a part of that particular temptation. So, it was never reported or dealt with by other priests. Child molestation never became a criminal category on its own until survivors got some reporters to listen.

  69. Ken G wrote:

    I guess a young man fitting this profile wouldn’t qualify for the ministry or would he?

    How many years was it from the time of his conversion to his status as a full time minister? And what was he doing during that waiting period?

  70. Ken G wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    I don’t know how we check out pastors, church leaders, except by their behavior. Certainly a criminal background check should be utilized too,…
    Then there was the case of a young man who witnessed and consented to the murder of an innocent Christian man. Afterwards he went house to house, dragged off both Christian men and women and committed them to prison. He continued to make threats and murder against Christians and even wanted to go to local places of worship and kidnap both Christian men and women if he found any there. I guess a young man fitting this profile wouldn’t qualify for the ministry or would he?

    KenG, I did not realize Paul continued that behavior after his conversion.

  71. Beakerj wrote:

    And how far exactly should we take the example of Saul/Paul? There are plenty of perfectly good Pastors & leaders who have had very dodgy pasts, & overcome them. Generally they would be the first ones to say ‘& such was I, please help me to not slip back’, & not have an issue with a background check – I think that’s one of the signs of genuine repentance actually.

    The Dialogue Church was a plant of Steve Jasmer while he served as Executive Pastor at another church. Obviously, there was no background check because he wasn’t hired for that position. Scroll to the very end of the attached for the details.

    http://thejourneynh.blogspot.com/2006/02/saturday-evening-february-18-2006.html

  72. I have personal knowledge of this church and the situation.

    The one positive, and very important, thing they did was report to DCYF.

    Unfortunately, they also:

    – Removed Steve without giving the congregation – or even just the families who could have been directly affected by this predatory behavior – any information on what he had done. One person I know begged leadership to tell him what had happened and was refused. His daughter attended the church all through her teenage years. It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)

    – Allowed Steve to attend services at another campus during the whole time period leading up to his plea deal. Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.

  73. @ Jerome:

    When Milas took over Granite (formerly Granite State Baptist Church) they looked like your standard suit-wearing, hymn-singing, King James Only BBFI congregation. The only vestige left in the rocking worship, pointy shoe wearing culture they have now is an authoritarian mindset about pastoral leadership.

  74. Mae wrote:

    🙁 Sorry to have misinterpreted your post.

    No problem – we’re cool! 🙂

    I don’t blame you for caring, mind.

  75. @ dee:
    dee wrote:

    Deb

    Just as we thought yesterday, this guy did not really have an education, even theological. He apparently attended Boston Baptist College.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/pastor-steve-jesmer-2a12ba8/

    Having grown up in the area, I never heard of it. Well, just as I suspected, it is an unaccredited college that graduated 14 folks in 2014.

    https://www.collegefactual.com/colleges/boston-baptist-college/academic-life/academic-majors/

    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place.What are they doing putting some guy with a checkered history, a self admitted druggie, with no education into a position of a lead pastor.

    Dialogue Church is not under the Granite Church umbrella. I wonder what sort of leadership they have…

    Steve was converted at Granite. His first job there was as custodian. He completed his degree at BBC while on staff at Granite.

    Dialogue Church was birthed out of Granite, as have been several other churches. Their relationship was not technically hierarchical but Milas looms large. As soon as Steve was removed the remaining leadership decided to become part of Granite again.

  76. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Well, we know where PASTOR Jezmer was sowing his Seed…

    Thanks for the comment. Forgive me, I didn’t know that rape could be turned into a joke. O.K. I’ll laugh now. Ha ha!

  77. Lydia wrote:

    This brings up an interesting view of that day and time.

    Yes it does. I have serious doubts that Jesus and his family were dirt poor as tradition would hold. To long to go into here, let’s just say that I don’t hold with tradition…

  78. TheCaptain wrote:

    Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.

    Remember Boz T — in all his years as a prosecutor specializing in these sort of cases, he NEVER saw a church support a victim; always “RALLY ROUND THE PEDO, BOYS! GOD SAITH!”

  79. Beakerj wrote:

    And how far exactly should we take the example of Saul/Paul?

    Far enough to excuse and pardon Pastor Pedo, of course.

    Sin-Levelling is SUCH a way to turn the blame around and Gaslight, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

  80. Muff Potter wrote:

    I have serious doubts that Jesus and his family were dirt poor as tradition would hold. To long to go into here, let’s just say that I don’t hold with tradition…

    Yes, well…there were the gifts the wise men brought. Enough that Joseph and Mary were not poor (assuming they were to begin with, which it never says). Then there’s the issue of Judas pilfering from the treasurey. In order for him not get caught, there had to be sufficient funds that it wasn’t noticable. Oh, and the rather well off women who supported him with funds (Joanna…). Yeah. I don’t believe Jesus wad poor, either. 😉

  81. TheCaptain wrote:

    . Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.

    Excellent point.

    I think churches are reporting more for legal reasons, cynic that I am. I received a letter from my former church about a molester who was supposedly volunteering in youth group. Since the guy was on the news they had little choice. But the letter was obviously CYA, it was embarrassing to read. It was all…..we never invited him to volunteer. He was from out of town. He was never paid staff. He was never around little children. We did not know him well…safety is always our main concern, .blah, blah. Church was obviously a cover for the guy.

  82. Max wrote:

    While Driscoll didn’t fail morally (except potty mouth preaching and writing pornographic marriage books),

    Driscoll did a lot that is immoral, including destroying the lives of people who supported his ministry and worked in the church, taking financial liberties, using other’s writings without permission as if there were his own, etc., etc.

  83. @ Ken G:
    You mean Paul, who had one of the best educations available, who was conversant with Greek philosophy and a Roman citizen? Sorry, that dog won’t hunt.

  84. TheCaptain wrote:

    It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)
    – Allowed Steve to attend services at another campus during the whole time period leading up to his plea deal. Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.

    Do you know for a fact that Steve (by himself or with his family) actually attended services at another campus? It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

  85. Lydia wrote:

    We did not know him well…safety is always our main concern,

    !!! *facepalm*

    I agree with you it’s CYA but good night, why weren’t they doing it before???

  86. @ Lea:
    In case it wasn’t obvious ‘we invite basic strangers off the street to work with youth because we are safety conscious’ is not a great argument.

  87. Ken G wrote:

    Do you know for a fact that Steve (by himself or with his family) actually attended services at another campus? It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

    Remember: God Hates GOSSIP(TM)….

  88. Ken G wrote:

    It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

    Does it? This seems to happen all the time. People tell them not to ‘gossip’.

  89. Ken G wrote:

    TheCaptain wrote:
    It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)
    – Allowed Steve to attend services at another campus during the whole time period leading up to his plea deal. Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.
    Do you know for a fact that Steve (by himself or with his family) actually attended services at another campus? It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

    It doesn’t matter if he went or not. The point being, “he was invited” to be part of another fellowship while he faced child rape charges. Did no one consider the rape victim, or other children who could have been harmed while this guy was on the loose?

  90. Ken G wrote:

    TheCaptain wrote:
    It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)
    – Allowed Steve to attend services at another campus during the whole time period leading up to his plea deal. Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.
    Do you know for a fact that Steve (by himself or with his family) actually attended services at another campus? It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

    You may have missed this part as well.

    TheCaptain wrote:

    Unfortunately, they also:
    – Removed Steve without giving the congregation – or even just the families who could have been directly affected by this predatory behavior – any information on what he had done. One person I know begged leadership to tell him what had happened and was refused. His daughter attended the church all through her teenage years. It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)

  91. @ Ken G:
    1. People in hierarchical churches rarely ask uncomfortable questions or they wouldn’t be in hierarchical churches. Small or large
    2. People in churches with more than one “campus” rarely know people from other campuses. If they do, they assume the leaders know best for them.
    3. It has s often considered gossip to ask uncomfortable questions.

    All these sorts of things collide to make the sort of church environment for this blog to exist.

  92. Bridget wrote:

    It doesn’t matter if he went or not. The point being, “he was invited” to be part of another fellowship while he faced child rape charges. Did no one consider the rape victim, or other children who could have been harmed while this guy was on the loose?

    The DCYF was conducting an investigation. It would seem reasonable that the DCYF would have advised the church regarding any potential harm this individual could cause and the steps the church should take to protect the congregation. I assume the church and DCYF have cooperated in this investigation.

  93. Ken G wrote:

    It would seem reasonable

    I have come to the conclusion that the VAST majority of churches (at least in the evangelical/non-denom/etc) world seem to be utterly lacking in reason in these types of cases.

  94. @ Ken G:

    The biggest problem for churches is if the word gets out. The goal is to spin it in such a way they don’t bleed too many tithers. From a legal standpoint, they have to report it or they cannot keep insurance. The mistake we often make is we apply spiritual reasons (or believe theirs) where they don’t exist. And there are many different ‘spiritual’ approaches to these issues. Some make my head spin. Especially after the perp has been convicted or confessed.

    The problem is we are often dealing with manipulative sociopathic cons who can feign the repentance shitick to epic proportions. The key is looking at what they were more than willing to do ‘as a believer’.

    One last note: Never assume the secular authorities are ‘advising’. Church is voluntary. Never forget that.

  95. Lydia wrote:

    This brings up an interesting view of that day and time. Most Jewish boys were sent to study with a Rabbi at age 7. If they showed exceptional promise, they continued on the Rabbi track after age 14.

    A bit OT:

    This raises the question, did Jesus continue on the rabbi track? I can’t think of any evidence one way or the other, but I can’t imagine him being a bit unwilling to give the pat answers that his teachers might have wanted.

    It is my understanding that a carpenter in that culture was more of a generalist. Joseph would have been closer to what we call a general contractor. Jesus would have had the abilities to do all sorts of carpentry but also stoneworking and housebuilding and probably tile work. Probably not for and certainly never homeless for long.

    Back OT:

    It is mildly reassuring that the church organization reported this character to the cops. But it’s disturbing that they allowed him to attend of another location without informing anyone. And calling it a mirror of moral failures simply white washing a black color crime.

  96. Apocalipstick wrote:

    @ Ken G:
    You mean Paul, who had one of the best educations available, who was conversant with Greek philosophy and a Roman citizen? Sorry, that dog won’t hunt.

    *groan* I missed this factor, too. I got the emotional loading of Ken G’s comment, which is often used to get the listener to disengage critical thinking (I am not accusing Ken G of this motive, am just observing its common use by manipulators). It worked, too; even though I knew there was something wrong, I could not put my finger on the flaw.

    TWW comments can be a good exercise in critical thinking.

  97. @ GSD:
    I love your questions because they have been mine for years. I don’t know why but I find the cultural backdrop of scripture fascinating.

    I don’t think he was on the Rabbi track. But does Luke 2 give us any indication one way or other at the age of 12? Too soon to tell. He wasn’t sent away to any prestigious Rabbi like Paul was. Does His not being on that track actually give him more credibility with the Jewish masses who were oppressed by Jewish teachers? Could He be on that track and have maintained such a dfferent perspective on the law and even of the importance of the law, overall ?

    I think the bigger clues lie with JTB who was disdainful of the Jerusalem Temple set and as the prophet sent as the forerunner. Interesting stuff.

  98. @ Lydia:
    Lydia, excellent comment, and one of the reasons TWW, the Deebs, and the comment folks here are essential. Cutting through the “theory” with reality checks.

    Like Joe Navarro, Richard Walter has studied these characters (the Vidocq Society); the book about the Vidocqs, “The Murder Room”, is illuminating. Reality.

    The point is not that God’s hand is short and cannot save. The point is that evil can be incredibly destructive and deceptive.

  99. Max wrote:

    Whew! Looks like a bunch of guys with an overload of adrenaline and testosterone there! Check out the 2-minute video clip of Granite’s recent “2017 Warrior Conference” … http://www.w

    Ummmmm…….. except for playing musical instruments, my daughter and her bffs could do everything those “warriors” are doing before they were in 4th grade, and then some!

  100. Lea wrote:

    Ken G wrote:
    It would seem reasonable

    I have come to the conclusion that the VAST majority of churches (at least in the evangelical/non-denom/etc) world seem to be utterly lacking in reason in these types of cases.

    I learned in the 1980s to distrust the “Reasonable”. (In SF litfandom you run into a lot of Intellectual types with arrested development in all other areas — the “Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3” Syndrome. Usually they grow out of it over time as the rest of their personality grows up to match. Eventually.)

    “Reasonable” was used to justify some pretty scary things by those who worshipped the Age of Reason and their own Rational Minds. One of the scariest was one intellectual type during the Falklands War in 1982 who had worked out a “Rational and Reasonable Response” to Argentina, based on the known size of the British nuclear arsenal — megatonnage calculated to the kiloton, ground zeros and warheads allocated and fallout patterns all mapped out. (Aside: Nobody is as “Doctor Strangelove” when it comes to war plans as an Intellectual Pacifist. To them, it’s all an abstraction.)

  101. Max wrote:

    dee wrote:
    This speaks to the Granite Church that hired him in the first place
    Whew! Looks like a bunch of guys with an overload of adrenaline and testosterone there!

    Deb, Dee, GBTC — do you still have that pic of those doughy Megapastors posturing with M4s with empty magazine wells like they were in some sort of combat assault training?

  102. Max wrote:

    GSD wrote:
    One of the news articles called this “black collar crime.”

    “Black” is certainly an apt description.

    In Jolly Blackburn’s comic strip Knights of the Dinner Table, he once did a sequence when the strip’s group of loser gamers tries a Modern Espionage RPG. One of the players (the pudgy rules lawyer) had this habit of when things went against him of going “I DECLARE THIS A BLACK OP!” and immediately killing off all the others’ player-characters.

  103. Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:

    Max wrote:
    Whew! Looks like a bunch of guys with an overload of adrenaline and testosterone there! Check out the 2-minute video clip of Granite’s recent “2017 Warrior Conference” … http://www.w
    Ummmmm…….. except for playing musical instruments, my daughter and her bffs could do everything those “warriors” are doing before they were in 4th grade, and then some!

    My very grown up daughter could whip their butts. She’s a, ” tough murder ” excellence, Cross Fit devotee, and dad had her compete in firearms marksmanship from age 7 – 16. She looks all sweet and feminine but lookout, she’s a strong, capable woman.

  104. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I learned in the 1980s to distrust the “Reasonable”.

    Ah, I thought you were going to segue into the reasonable man standard, which I actually think has its uses. We go back and forth trying to make rules and laws and then see things as too lenient and create mandatory minimums/zero tolerance when we don’t trust discretion in prosecution, schools, etc. And then we have a whole new set of problems.

    Sometimes guidelines are helpful but they will never make anyone reasonable, I guess is what I’m saying.

  105. Lydia wrote:

    Does anything good come from Nazareth? :).

    Yes. Jesus himself. I hope in his very literal person and nothing more.

  106. Ken G wrote:

    TheCaptain wrote:

    It was, if I remember correctly, months before he was charged and the information became public (and available to affected families.)
    – Allowed Steve to attend services at another campus during the whole time period leading up to his plea deal. Nothing says to a victim “we’re on your side” like inviting your rapist into fellowship elsewhere in the church.

    Do you know for a fact that Steve (by himself or with his family) actually attended services at another campus? It seems very unlikely that he would go unnoticed and not one person would start asking questions.

    Yes. He attended with his family weekly. Sat up front with Milas on at least one occasion. I was told it was an amazing act of grace.

  107. Ken G wrote:

    The DCYF was conducting an investigation. It would seem reasonable that the DCYF would have advised the church regarding any potential harm this individual could cause and the steps the church should take to protect the congregation.

    Nope. That does not always happen. Especially if he started attending a different campus.

  108. @ Lydia:
    Interesting to incorporate behavioral science into our social circles, including the church.

    One of the most popular TED Talks is from Pamela Meyer about how to spot a liar:

    “We’re facing a pandemic of deception.”

    “Lying is a cooperative act. Think about it, a lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie.”

    17 books she recommends about truth, dishonesty: http://bit.ly/1KZj3zq

  109. Lydia wrote:

    I don’t think he was on the Rabbi track. But does Luke 2 give us any indication one way or other at the age of 12? Too soon to tell.

    It’s interesting how little we know about the childhood of someone who very well might have been God in human form. And how much info we’ve lost to the sands of time.

    I do appreciate Muff’s point that Jesus’ family wasn’t dirt poor. I think there is good evidence for that. My understanding is that Joseph was less like a modern carpenter, and more like a small town general contractor. He had a wide range of skills that he passed on to his son. Not filthy rich, but comfortable, and probably respected, except for the dubious circumstances of his “son’s” birth.

    Some people also make a point about Jesus being homeless. With His skills, He would never be homeless for long. If you know how to build a house out of rocks and sticks and dirt, and you live in a desert full of that stuff…

    It makes me wonder what sort of student He was, and why He didn’t seem to train as a Rabbi. Was He too headstrong, and confrontational, even at that age? We do know that between the time that Jesus was 12 and 30, Joseph died. Did that force Jesus into running the business, supporting his family?

    It will be interesting to ask Him.

    —————

    Anyway, back to the Jesmer Chronicles. Letting an accused child rapist sit up front in a place of honor? One who would later be convicted? That’s not grace.

  110. Lydia wrote:

    Now you are making me want to research 1st century carpentry!

    A thousand years earlier but look up Bezalel’s capabilities and you can get a picture. He is one of the first OT characters to have the attribute of being filled with the spirit. He is also a great picture for the rest of us who do not yearn to be a theologist/pastor/leader/prophet/teacher/etc. He sounded like someone who found his purpose in life to be a good craftsman.

  111. GSD [Getting Stuff Done] wrote:

    It’s interesting how little we know about the childhood of someone who very well might have been God in human form. And how much info we’ve lost to the sands of time.

    I believe he is God in human form. Note that I said is and not was. He created (Colossians 1:15-17) the very notions of time and space along with their physical actualities that we interact with on a daily basis. That’s why I think ‘was’ and ‘is’ are largely not relevant in that context.

    When I think of Messiah as a young child when he and his family fled into Egypt and how he grew into a tween, and that he is also my very maker, I get goosebumps and I cannot classify the feelings that well up from my inner guts. Feelings of awe and mystery sure, but there’s something else that cannot be described or quantified.

  112. Muff Potter wrote:

    When I think of Messiah as a young child when he and his family fled into Egypt and how he grew into a tween, and that he is also my very maker, I get goosebumps and I cannot classify the feelings that well up from my inner guts. Feelings of awe and mystery sure, but there’s something else that cannot be described or quantified.

    Yes. This.
    Every time I contemplate this amazing thing that the Creator of all things would choose to become human and go through the process of growing as a human – be a child, become a man – and forever change Himself to be human as well as God….I am overcome, overwhelmed….words are inadequate. That He would become one of us and in doing so, forever bind himself to us…what kind of love is this?

  113. @ dee:
    I was part of the launch team for this church and (slightly ironically) attended the same college, years later. I knew Steve and family very well. He did my wedding ceremony. So I will speak with knowledge.

    I was kicked out of the church and leadership team on some “theological” issues around sexuality. So I will speak with hindsight.

    1) The college is Nationally Accredited.
    2) The college is hyper-fundamental but strive for academic excellence.
    3) The college did not recognize the Dialogue Church because it wasn’t Baptist.
    4) The graduating class is usually 30-50 students a year.

    The church when it started had significant pastoral support from the pastor of Granite United and other pastors in the area. We were small and tried to be different to reach more people. There was a significant change about 2 years in and he went the Mark Driscoll route as opposed to the Brian McLaren/Rob Bell route. Then we progressed into the Andy Stanley/Ed Young route. This was followed by the Joel Olsteen era. This is the point I left.

    Never in my wildest dreams would I thought Steve would have done this. (I absolutely believe it happened though) The injunction against talking about what happened was before this was public (from what I understand). The amount of hate that Steve’s family got was terrible. They were not to blame. People who had left the church also claimed to have seen this coming, which is just unbelievable. He has two young daughters (slightly younger than the victim). His mom and sister and their families also are a huge part of the church.

    I don’t agree with how the church handled the aftermath. Steve was allowed at another campus. I don’t know what kind of counseling the family and the victim are getting.

  114. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    Yes, well…there were the gifts the wise men brought. Enough that Joseph and Mary were not poor (assuming they were to begin with, which it never says).

    Holy Writ is silent about much of what transpired in the life and times of Messiah. If anything, John closes his Gospel with a cryptic appeal to what could have been written about Jesus.
    So here’s what I think:
    When they fled to Egypt, Jesus and his family had more than just a few million (in today’s dollars). Scripture does record that the Magi were not tightwads.
    My guess is that they headed to Alexandria, one of the wealthiest cosmopolitan hubs in the ancient world.
    There Joseph went into the construction bizz. He learned all he could from Roman engineering and building methods which were hands down the best in the world at that time. His firm throve and grew. And when it came time to move to Nazareth he reestablished his construction business there.

  115. Dawn wrote:

    There was a significant change about 2 years in and he went the Mark Driscoll route as opposed to the Brian McLaren/Rob Bell route. Then we progressed into the Andy Stanley/Ed Young route. This was followed by the Joel Olsteen era.

    Whew! All of those folks complicate the Jesus route. Talking about extremes: from emergent to resurgent to charismatic to weird. Pastor Steve was tossed to and fro, trying to get his bearings! That must have been a stressful time for you – hope things are better for you now.

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