I Thought He Was Taking Me for Ice Cream: One Woman’s #MeToo Story of Molestation By Her Former Youth Pastor, Andy Savage

“I am sickened by the thought that young adult or teenage girls are expected to be glorified erotic actresses playing the script of their sex hungry boyfriends.” Andy Savage 

Several weeks ago I received an email from Jules Woodson and a phone call from Kenny Stubblefield and Brooks Hansen. Amy Smith of Watch Keep was contacted as well. Jules had reached out to Kenny and Brooks due to a story posted at The Wartburg Watch link and link. It is important to note that both Amy and I have had previous contact with HIghpoint Church Memphis due to those posts.

We all conferenced together via phone, along with Darcy, a friend of Jules who is an important reason that this story is being told. Our subsequent conversations profoundly affected me over the Christmas season when I found myself waking up at all hours of the night, contemplating the pain that Jules has suffered both during the molestation and the many years following that wretched night. Meanwhile, the pastors involved in this story have gone on to success within the Christian world.

The name of the victim is Jules Woodson which is her maiden name. She wishes her name to be known. Darcy is her friend’s actual first name and we have permission to use that name as well.

Amy Smith and I are joint posting this story but we may tell it slightly differently. (Update:1/5/17 10:28 AM) Here is Amy Smith’s post:

Silent no more: a survivor of sexual assault by prominent Memphis pastor Andy Savage shares her story #metoo #churchtoo #silenceisnotspiritual

After our stories are published, I will be contacting the involved pastors and their churches for comment. Amy will be handling the media. There is little doubt in our minds this story is true, as you will see from the narrative.

Trigger Warning: The sexual assault will be described in some detail for just one paragraph, which will be clearly labeled.

A challenge to readers

This is a #metoo #churchtoo story. Many Christian women claim that they want to stand against the sexual abuse of women: #SilenceIsNotSpiritual. This is a story that should attract their support and their attention. However, will the support be offered when it involves a pastor that they like or a church that they attend?

For regular readers, I offer a challenge. See if you can spot predatory grooming tactics in the story and point them out in your comments. Jules hopes that her willingness to tell her story will help others avoid the pain that she has experienced. She also desires that her story might encourage other women and men in the church to come forward to tell their stories of abuse.

The list of involved pastors, churches and organizations

Here is Andy Savage’s bio taken directly from his website.

The unanswered email that Jules Woodson sent to Andy Savage on December 1, 2017

Jules saw the following tweet by Andy Savage.

Here is the email that Jules sent to Andy Savage, Teaching Pastor of Highpoint Memphis.

 

——– Original message ——–

From: Jules Woodson

Date: 12/1/17 9:21 AM (GMT-07:00)

To: andy.savage@highpointmemphis.com

Subject: Do you remember?

Do you remember that night that you were supposed to drive me home from church and instead drove me to a deserted back road and sexually assaulted me?

Do you remember how you acted like you loved me and cared about me in order for me to cooperate in such acts, only to run out of the vehicle later and fall to your knees begging for forgiveness and for me not to tell anyone what had just happened?

Well, I REMEMBER.
#metoo

She received NO response. What prompted this email? Let’s go back in time to the end of 2016.

Darcy reached out to Jules to ask her “What actually happened to you?” We need more women like Darcy in this world.

Darcy had not seen Jules since she left the church to attend college. However, when the Donald Trump infamous tape became public, she began to think back to when she was a member of the high school youth group at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas. It is now known as StoneBridge Church with the same senior pastor, Steve Bradley, as two decades ago.

An incident happened that stuck in her mind. The church never announced that he was being fired. Instead, they had Savage go before the church and say he made a mistake and that was time for him to move on.The rumor was that he had kissed a girl.

People were upset that Savage was let go because he was really well liked. A number of people blamed Jules for him leaving because there was no specific reason given by the pastors for why he left. Rumors were allowed to flourish. This, along with the shaming/blame game, caused her to stop regularly attending church.

In our group conversation, Darcy described Jules as both the most popular and the prettiest girl in the youth group. She remembered Andy Savage paying lots of attention to her. Darcy said all the girls were jealous of the attention that Savage paid to her because he was quite attractive.

Darcy was not close friends with her at the time because she was not part of the *popular* group and was a year ahead of Jules, but she always remembered her and wondered about what had actually happened. She sensed something really bad occurred and felt that the church members were not given the whole story. She was right.

So with great sensitivity, Darcy tracked down Jules and asked her about it. Jules, having kept this bottled up inside of herself for years, opened up and told her the whole story. Darcy’s act of kindness helped Jules to understand that she was the victim in this story and that she finally wanted to deal with it. We need more women like Darcy who bravely seek out the truth.

Some background leading up to the molestation.

Jules was a popular student in the youth group and Savage was well-loved by the students and their parents. A number of the kids would go over to the church after school just to hang out with him. Jules was part of that group.

Over time, Jules began to confide in him. She was going through some difficult trials. Her parents had recently gone through a divorce. Also, she once attended a party and became the subject of unwanted forced sexual activity. It so disturbed her that she confided in Andy because she trusted him as her pastor.

Savage had behavior rules put in place by the church that he was supposed to follow. He was NEVER to be alone with anyone, especially a girl. However, he was a rule breaker. Savage lived with one of the families in the church and had students, including Jules, over to this home. One evening he took Jules to his bedroom, alone, and was tickling her. One of the other adults came to the room and told them they needed to go back and join the group because they should not be alone in a room together.

Jules’s story of molestation and the aftermath told in her own words.

“One evening, in the early Spring of 1998, I was hanging out with my youth minister, Andy Savage, at my church, Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church located at 10801 Falconwing Drive. I was 17 years old at the time and a senior at The Woodlands High School. There had been multiple kids there at the church after school, but as the night got later I was the only student left, alone in the church with Andy. I did not have a vehicle at the church, so Andy offered to take me home to my Mom’s house.

It was dark outside. As he was driving me towards my home, he passed the turn he should have made to go to my house. I asked him where he was going. I don’t remember his exact response, but it was something along the lines of ‘you’ll see’ or ‘it’s a surprise.’ I know for sure he did not tell me where he was taking me. I remember feeling special and excited, as in my mind, he obviously wanted to spend more time with me before taking me home. I assumed we were going to get ice cream.”

Trigger warning: Graphic description of sexual activity. Also, pay particular attention to where this took place. It is important.


He turned onto a dirt road and continued to drive. There were trees all around. I could not see the main road anymore, from which he turned. I asked what was back here. He told me they were building a church. I thought, maybe that’s what this was about, maybe he has some secret to tell me, like perhaps he was moving to another church. We reached a dead end and he turned the truck around before putting it in park. We were stopped, and he turned the headlights off. Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it. I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts.

After what I believe to have been about 5 minutes of this going on, he suddenly stopped, got out of the truck and ran around the back and to my side before falling to his knees. I quickly buttoned my shirt back up and got out of the truck. Now I was terrified and ashamed. I remember him pleading, while he was on his knees with his hands up on his head, ‘Oh my god, oh my god. What have I done? Oh my god, I’m so sorry. You can’t tell anyone Jules, please. You have to take this to the grave with you.’  He said that several times. My fear and shame quickly turned to anger. I had just been manipulated and used. I swore to him I wouldn’t tell anyone just to get him to stop. We both got back in the truck. As he drove me home, I don’t remember there being any conversation. I was in shock.

End of graphic description.


“As soon as I got home, I went straight to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep fast enough. “Please God, let this all be a bad dream,” I thought. Yet the hurt I was beginning to feel soon snapped me back into reality. This was no bad dream, this was a living nightmare. The secret quickly began to eat away at my soul. I couldn’t concentrate at school. I couldn’t think about anything else. The fear, shame, anger and hurt consumed me. As embarrassing as it would be for me to tell all the ‘dirty’ details of this horrible secret, I had no other choice. What happened to me was not right nor had it been my fault. I had to report this. Little did I know, the very people I was about to entrust to protect me and help me would not only victimize me all over again but would also engage in a cover up to protect my abuser and the image of the church.”

She reported the incident to Pastor Larry Cotton. She began to blame herself.

“Larry Cotton was the Associate Pastor of Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church at the time. Steve Bradley was the head pastor. I mustered up the courage to go tell them what happened. For some reason, Steve wasn’t available, so I only spoke with Larry. I remember asking him if I could speak privately with him and he said yes. I started out by saying something awful had happened to me. I was already crying. Somehow, I felt brave enough to tell Larry every detail of what had happened with Andy. I was mortified but I thought I was doing the right thing as both Larry and Steve were over Andy in the church and I was way too embarrassed and scared to tell anyone else, especially my own parents.

Just as I had finished telling my story, Larry immediately spoke up and asked me to clarify. He said something to the effect of, ‘So you’re telling me you participated?’ I remember feeling like my heart had just sunk to the floor.  What was he asking? More importantly, what was he trying to imply? This wave of shame came over me, greater than I had ever felt before. I had just gotten done telling him everything that Andy, my youth pastor, asked me to do. I didn’t say that I screamed no, jumped out of the car and ran into the dark forest because I hadn’t. I told him that Andy had asked me to perform oral sex and unbutton my shirt and I did. Every ounce of courage I had gathered to walk in there and tell Larry the truth about what had happened to me left in an instant. Not only did I suddenly feel this immense guilt for doing what Andy had asked me to do but I also started to feel that this was my fault somehow because I didn’t stop him.”

Larry Cotton told her he would tell the head pastor, Steve Bradley, about it and that the church would handle it.

“As you might imagine, I was beyond overwhelmed at the myriad of emotions I was feeling. I remember Larry telling me that he would have to share with Steve all that I had told him. I asked what was going to happen next and he said that him and Steve would be talking to Andy and that the church would be handling the situation. He told me not to speak with Andy and said that he would be telling Andy not to speak with me as well. Through the tears, I told him that I was too embarrassed to tell my Mom what had happened. He said not to worry, that they would talk to my Mother as well. He then told me not mention anything that had happened to anyone else.  It was very clear to me that I was not to say a word to anyone.”

Andy continued in his position and even taught *True Love Waits.”

“As days passed I remember feeling more and more hopeless. I was confused as it seemed that Andy got to go about his day to day life, within the church and outside of it, as though nothing had ever happened. In fact, he led a 2-day event at the church, known as True Love Waits, promoting sexual purity not only in abstinence from intercourse before marriage but also abstinence in any physical contact, actions and thoughts which might lead to sexual arousal. The irony had not been lost on me. Yet, here I was sinking deeper and deeper into this pit of depression. I had no where to go, no one to talk to. After all, I was given one job by the person I had sought help from (Larry,) and that was to keep my mouth shut.”

Jules confided some information in her female discipleship group.

“Not long after, I was meeting at the church with my all female discipleship group. I hadn’t had much interest in even being at church since everything that had happened but, deep down, I think I was just seeking some sort of solace in my faith for all the pain and hurt I was going through. Something came over me that night. I remember feeling disgusted and frustrated. What happened to me was not right! Why were my pastors not listening?! As if a final breath of courage filled my lungs, I opened my mouth and began to share some of what had happened to me. Looking back now, I know without a doubt, it was a cry for help. Tears ran down my cheeks. I remember feeling a slight sense of relief as this was no longer just a secret between myself, Andy, Larry and Steve. However, I too remember feeling as though I had just played my last card. I knew I had broken the rules of silence and that there would be consequences to my actions.”

Andy left the church.

“Word got back to Larry and Steve, almost immediately, that I had shared some things with my discipleship group. Now they had to do something. The youth group had a ski trip coming up and they announced to the families that Andy would not be going. Rumors were starting to spread that something had happened between myself and Andy. People thought/assumed that we had exchanged an ‘innocent’ kiss. The church, however, never came out with an official statement addressing what had happened and/or what was being done about it. Instead, they held a going away reception for Andy at the church in which he was allowed to simply say that he had made a poor decision and that it was time for him to move on from our church. Many people came to love on him, support him and say their goodbyes. There were hugs shared and tears shed. No one truly knew why he was leaving except myself, Andy, Larry and Steve. The gossip amongst my church family only continued to flourish. No one could imagine Andy doing anything bad or immoral, much less illegal, and so, it somehow became my fault that Andy was leaving.”

She later learned that her parents never truly learned the full story of what had happened.

“I couldn’t have been more grateful that it was the spring of my senior year as all I wanted to do was to leave town and get away from everything and everyone. I had basically shut down.  I felt so alone. It wasn’t until much later that I would realize that no matter how far away I moved nor how much I tried to move on with my life, that I could never truly escape what had happened to me. For example, when I found out that the church had contacted my parents, years later, and asked their permission to bring Andy back on staff, it brought back a whirlwind of emotions. Of course, my parents said NO, but even learning of this was traumatizing. I am a grown woman now and although it’s been almost 20 years since everything happened, it still affects me to this day.  There are triggers that take me back to that night, there are nightmares that haunt my dreams.”

Jules’ hope for those who read her story.

“My hope in finally coming forward with my story is not only that I can begin to get closure and healing for all that has happened to me, but more so, that my story might have a positive impact on others and effect positive change in how these types of situations are handled within the church.

To anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse in the church and the subsequent cover up and pressure to remain silent, I want you to know that it is not your fault. Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone.”

The subsequent years: The church wanted to bring Savage back on staff!

Jules struggled with anxiety and depression in the following years. She has sought professional counseling to help her make sense of what had happened to her. Meanwhile, Andy Savage, Larry Cotton, and Steve Bradley have gone on to become successful pastors. We asked Jules if any of them had reached out to her to see how she was doing. She has not heard from any of them.

The pastors and the deacons of StoneBridge Church later approached Jules’ parents, asking if they could bring Savage back on staff. The parents said “Absolutely not!” The pastors did not take the opportunity to reach out to Jules and apologize to her. Can you imagine that the pastors still did not get the seriousness of what had happened to Jules? They had been told the details. How could they be so callous?

My concerns about the molestation:

  • Jules had received permission from her mother for Savage to take her to her home from the church that evening. He deliberately ignored her mother wishes, leading me to question whether or not this could be considered an abduction.
  • She asked him where they were going but he did not directly answer her hence her assumption that he was bringing her for ice cream. (This makes me cry every time I think about it.)
  • Jules did not give Andy permission to engage her in sexual activities. Even if she had, she was a minor and he was a member of the clergy, abusing his clergy privilege.
  • Jules was well aware that Savage brought her to a dark, isolated area with no one around who could have heard her scream for help. He is a larger man who could have easily subdued her. There is no question in my mind that fear was a component here. By Jules complying with Andy’s desire, she may have prevented an even worse scenario.
  • It is hard for me to believe that he found such a perfect place to molest Jules at the spur of the moment. It appears to me that he may have planned this in advance.
  • Savage’s order to *take it to her grave* could be perceived as a threat.
  • The pastor, Larry Cotton, appeared to lay some of the blame on her by making her believe that she consented to the act because she participated. Given the particular circumstances of Jules’ trauma, his response could be seen by some as abusive.
  • From what we know, the police were not notified by the pastors of the church.
  • According to his bio (of which we have taken screen shots) Savage went on to be the Pastor of College Students and Young Singles at Germantown Baptist Church. Was Germantown Baptist Church notified of Savage’s behavior?
  • Could there be other victims?

A police report has been submitted by Jules Woodson.

Here are some relevant sections of Texas law.

  1. Note the clergy portion of this law.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 5. (22.011)
Title 5. Offenses against the person.
Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses.
Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault.
(b) A sexual assault […] is without the consent of the other person if: […] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser …
Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient’s] .  .  . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor”
 2. CHAPTER 261. INVESTIGATION OF REPORT OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT link

Final thoughts:

-I will be contacting all of the pastors involved in this story as well as their churches. We will print their responses, if any. I will plan a follow up post on Monday.

-We will be watching the comments closely. All comments attempting to victim blame will be deleted and the commenter will be placed on our permanently banned list.

-Finally, special thanks go out to Brooks Hansen and Kenny Stubblefield for getting us all together and helping us in our research. Last year, I remember telling them that someday their story would help another victim. Here is the proof that I was right.

-Dearest Jules,

You are a brave woman who has endured much pain. I have been blessed by our conversations. I have cried a lot, both with and for you. Your story will help many other people. Ask Kenny and Brooks about it. One day, when they are older and can understand, your children will come to know what an awesome mom they have.


Comments

I Thought He Was Taking Me for Ice Cream: One Woman’s #MeToo Story of Molestation By Her Former Youth Pastor, Andy Savage — 1,296 Comments

  1. @ dee:
    Wow, just wow! You caught him/her with his/her hands in the cookie jar!,
    Hey Girl Bye, Parker Dax, and College boy!
    So, now I, and the whole world, see slut shaming in clear action, and in my case, character/intellectual attack,
    from College boy directed at me:
    “You, 57 year old man, are foolish and gullible. You are like a ‘hungry fish’ consuming the bait of group-think haters interested solely in ‘the attack.’”

    I actually think your comments at me are hilarious, and you clearly do not know me…. my colleauges that work with me in local, national, and my international profession would burst out in laughter if they heard you calling me that! .

    Your tactics are sooo typical of the fundies I grew up, Ken Ham, and so many young earthers, and other relgious Charlatans.. Personally attack the whistle blower when you can not defend “your side”! Yes, I am an old man, and I can see right through the BS of “religious leaders”….
    I find it interesting that Highpoint has a ministry to people with addictions…..including sexual addictions, is it OK for the leaders of that ministry to partake on the side, , hey, they are are just sluts anyway!

  2. Girl Bye wrote:

    She was mad because he did not return her feelings.

    This sounds like more of the mra stuff from college boy.

    That is so not the problem here. Way to miss the d point! Sigh.

  3. Girl Bye wrote:

    This mess is not going to stop until WOMEN are left hanging out to dry with their sins busted wide open.

    Girl Bye wrote:

    I can tell you now that I 100% forgive the accuser;

    Something does not smell right in how you are coming across here. It seems that you are neither a woman nor a victim. Women don’t typically throw other women under the bus as the top quote from you does.

    As to your second quote above, I am wondering why you chose the word “accuser” instead of “rapist.” Were you raped or were you accused? This word choice is odd for a real victim.

  4. @ dee:
    I noted the following comment on SBC Voices today:

    “Rachel E Cox tweeted January 10 that Andy Savage had flirted with her while she was in High School and he was a college youth leader. The tweet can be seen here:

    https://twitter.com/watchkeep/status/951279614038593536/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.commercialappeal.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2F2018%2F01%2F14%2Fandy-savage-search-truth-road-justice%2F1029330001%2F

    Was this at a different church?

  5. Bridget wrote:

    Girl Bye wrote:

    Ask Jules to see if she is transparent enough to tell the complete truth about her sexual past.

    Why do you assume she hasn’t?

    I don’t care if she had sex with 80 guys and came onto Andy. Everything he did was still wrong, he was still driving!, he still took advantage of her after grooming her possibly for years, he still lied afterwards, his employers still covered for him…etcetcetc.

    No amt of consent would have made this ok and I don’t care about the legalities it was still wrong and an abuse of power and position. Period.

  6. Lea wrote:

    I don’t care if she had sex with 80 guys and came onto Andy. Everything he did was still wrong, he was still driving!, he still took advantage of her after grooming her possibly for years, he still lied afterwards, his employers still covered for him…etcetcetc.

    No amt of consent would have made this ok and I don’t care about the legalities it was still wrong and an abuse of power and position. Period.

    I agree. Some people don’t seem to get it.

    Girl Bye is now accusing Jules of lying and all kinds of other nonsense. It’s ridiculous and I’m calling it out.

  7. @ Lea:
    Amen… as I keep saying, we expect teachers to keep their johsons in their pants, why not youth pastors? And, I do not care what the law was at the time…..

  8. She is lying! https://statement-analysis.blogspot.com/2018/01/jules-woodson-sexual-assault-analyzed.html
    She needs professional help! Why would she bring it up over 20 years?! Sounds like she’s trying to jump on bandwagon (#metoo) and get some cash! Sounds like she was the one infatuated and was willing to express that to him at all costs. When he rejected her, she decided to get even with him. Yes, Andy at 22 was a kid as well, he made a mistake, he should have never been alone with her, he apologized to her and mother. John 8:7 “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (or him)
    Andy Savage is being wrongly portrayed all over the media! He was in his early 20’s and had a sexual encounter with a 17 year old (legal age of consent is 16 in the state of Texas). This was not sexually assault. She willingly participated and resigned after the incident.

  9. My dear, have you looked at the laws for Texas? As a 22 year old youth pastor (per his LinkedIn biography), Andy was clergy – it is a felony (and was as of 1995, prior to the assault) for a clergyperson to have ANY sexual relationship with a parishioner under their care, whether the person gives consent or is of age or not. Think a 22 year old graduated public school teacher and a gaga Grade 11 child – would THIS relationship pass your muster? If not, why does a *youth pastor* get a pass? Are we in the church LESS willing to protect our children (and a 17 year old is still a child) from untrustworthy clergy than the public school system?

    The issue is his JOB TITLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES and said “job title and responsibilities” getting it on with one of the CHARGES IN HIS CARE. If he was fellow youth group member, it would raise eyebrows but as a clergyperson, he clearly breached all duties of care and should have faced the legal consequences. That he ran like a little weasel, whether on the advice of others or not, does not change that – he would have been legally disqualified for ministry from that point on.

  10. @ Smart Woman:

    Oh yes, and the statement analysis? Please read it carefully. Even the “analyzer” notes in a couple of places that this type or analysis is not valid (ie. the “we”, etc.) in a case of abuse, where the abused person is still trying to be in relationship (he WAS her youth pastor). So that analysis was done as a “single incident assault”, not a “long term groomed child who has just been assaulted” – it has been analyzed under the wrong framework. As well, you may wish to note that this analysis was done on a prepared statement, not a police interview – also a completely different venue.

    I understand being distressed, but please, the secular world is quite unhappy about people who victim-blame youth who have been targeted by those caring for them and excuse the crimes of said caregivers. I would hope the church could maybe be AT LEAST as unhappy about their egregious abuse of power – Jesus suggested millstones for those who hurt His little ones.

  11. College Boy wrote:

    I just have a knack for recognizing when/where people are going off the proverbial rails

    A textbook example of dramatic irony:
    “irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters”

  12. Pingback: Memphis Pastor Andy Savage Says He Offered to Resign Over Sexual Assault but Church Stood by Him | WGRC

  13. What Andy Savage did was wrong because he was her youth pastor. And he admits to having had a sexual incident with the (then) 17 year old when he was her 22 year old youth pastor, and clearly he was not her boyfriend even. I don’t believe he belongs in a place of trust in a church. (I would like to ask who in his church would trust their 17 y/o daughter alone with him). –However, according to the Texas Penal Code found here: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm and linked to on Amy Smith’s blog post with the female’s story, a child is someone under the age of 17 in Texas, in such cases; this female was 17. This along with that sadly she was a willing participant by her own admission and in no way under any type of dependency on him as a clergy (according to her story), legally this was not sexual assault. It was wrong, but not legally wrong.

  14. Debra J.M. Smith wrote:

    in such cases; this female was 17. This along with that sadly she was a willing participant by her own admission and in no way under any type of dependency on him as a clergy (according to her story), legally this was not sexual assault. It was wrong, but not legally wrong.

    I need to correct your misunderstanding of the law. He cannot be tried due to the state of limitations. That in no way means that what he did was legal. Let me show you the trajectory of you argument. OJ Simpson was found not guilty in court. So, perhaps you are one that would say that he tragically lost his wife who was murdered? Obviously the legal system believes him innocent, right?

    You mix up terminology. You should know that the DA wanted to investigate this so that justice might be served. he said so. Reread his statement. He could not do so due to the SOL Had this been reported, as is required of pastors and churches, I know that Savage would have been convicted and he would be on the sex offended registry today. He would have never become pastor and subject the people in the church to this ridiculous mess of his own causing.

  15. Debra J.M. Smith wrote:

    It was wrong, but not legally wrong.

    What a great standard for a pastor. But if I understand correctly, what he did was actually illegal at the time. And it was not just him, it was also the “wise counsel” that failed to report.

  16. Debra J.M. Smith wrote:

    in no way under any type of dependency on him as a clergy (according to her story),

    He was her pastor.
    In that context she shared personal information about a sexual assault.
    In that context, he was aware of her parents divorce.

    She was vulnerable, which he knew in his capacity as a ‘pastor’. He took advantage of her, after a youth group meeting, in his capacity as clergy.

    How on earth is this NOT related to him being clergy?

  17. Lea wrote:

    He was her pastor.

    There are a lot of folks commenting on this who have a big but.

    Consider Debra Smith’s comment:

    “What Andy Savage did was wrong because he was her youth pastor … I don’t believe he belongs in a place of trust in a church … (insert BUT) … she was … in no way under any type of dependency on him as a clergy …”

    He was her pastor … He was her pastor … He was her pastor … etc.

  18. Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:

    it was also the “wise counsel” that failed to report.

    He has blamed the entire fall out of his responses on his *wise counsel.* I am thinking about writing a post on the *wise counsel* excuse.

  19. @ Max:
    I always heard it, that everything that comes before the ‘but’ is a lie.

    He took her from a CHURCH FUNCTION to do this. This was in no way separate from his position.

  20. dee wrote:

    I am thinking about writing a post on the *wise counsel* excuse.

    Please do. Blame shifting attempt, that falls short because if your ‘wise counsel’ give you dumb advice you can and should ignore it.

    Of course, the village church seemed to think their ‘wise counsel’ was actually the law from god so maybe that’s a general problem.

    Advice is just that, advice. To follow or not, as your brain and conscience dictate.

  21. dee wrote:

    He has blamed the entire fall out of his responses on his *wise counsel.*

    There are two major problems: 1) his actions and excuses, and 2) the actions and excuses of his wise counsel. Both are problems. I think his “wise counsel” would be happy to keep the focus on AS, and AS would be happy to keep the focus on his wise counsel. Both need to be held accountable.

  22. @ Lea:
    From what I read, the youth Pastor was just completing his Freshman year in college, which would normally put him at 19 or 20.
    They flirted with each other, and it was noted the other girls were jealous of her since he was “so good looking”.
    He hardly seemed predatory with stopping and then falling on his knees outside of the truck.
    Going on with his life like nothing happened? He apologized, took responsibility, and left the Church after completing some Church program. He then told all subsequent employers about what transpired.

    I ask, what more should have been done to this young man, who, by all accounts, never did such a thing ever again?

  23. @ dee:

    Clergy means an actual Pastor. A youth minister of 19 or 20, just finishing his Freshman year of college would at best be considered a mentor.
    The other girls were jealous of the attention he showed her, and she seemed quite pleased with it. By her account, there was flirtatious behaviour.
    The telling part, for me at least, is when he exited the truck (seemingly before completion of the act) and begged forgiveness. She was MAD. She was mad because she thought he loved her.
    That is not a typical response of a traumatized victim.
    Based on her age, his position not fitting the legal definition of Clergy (training, accreditation etc) and her participation, there would have been no prosecution let alone a guilty verdict

  24. Arguenot wrote:

    From what I read, the youth Pastor was just completing his Freshman year in college, which would normally put him at 19 or 20.

    Wrong. He *started* as a freshman, he was 22 when this happened, which is a 5 year age difference. BTW, dif between 17 and 22 in life experience is huge. Most adults are in full time jobs at 22.
    Arguenot wrote:

    He hardly seemed predatory with stopping and then falling on his knees outside of the truck.

    After he got what he wanted, he switched to damage control.

  25. Arguenot wrote:

    He then told all subsequent employers about what transpired.

    Also wrong. He admits that his ‘wise council’ advised him not to tell his next employer so he didn’t bother, where he supervised more young adults, including high school kids, inside of 4 months.

    That ‘church program’? Was basically trying to keep it all quiet by telling everyone it was a ‘kiss’, rather than sex, getting found out and having to admit the truth, getting a pat on the back going away party, and moving away.

    You really should catch up on the facts before commenting.

  26. Some people do not get the strength for. Thirty years before they can talk about their abuse. Rest assured that one lives with it every day be it twenty, thirty or fourty years before they come out with what happened.@ Smart Woman:

  27. Arguenot wrote:

    Clergy means an actual Pastor. A youth minister of 19 or 20, just finishing his Freshman year of college would at best be considered a mentor.

    Do you know this to be true based on actual court cases, or is this your uneducated opinion?

  28. dee wrote:

    He has blamed the entire fall out of his responses on his *wise counsel.* I am thinking about writing a post on the *wise counsel* excuse.

    Mr. Savage may have borrowed that term from Driscoll, who calls the leadership group at his new church the “Wise Counsel.”

    One should never toss personal responsibility aside in matters this serious, regardless of the counsel of others. It’s never wisdom to tell a pastor committing such sin to avoid accountability and dodge the consequences. But, I suppose high-tailing it out of Texas sounded pretty good at the time.

  29. Lea wrote:

    Debra J.M. Smith wrote:

    in no way under any type of dependency on him as a clergy (according to her story),

    He was her pastor.
    In that context she shared personal information about a sexual assault.
    In that context, he was aware of her parents divorce.

    She was vulnerable, which he knew in his capacity as a ‘pastor’. He took advantage of her, after a youth group meeting, in his capacity as clergy.

    How on earth is this NOT related to him being clergy?

    Help me with this –

    What exactly does the word “pastor” mean in the context of the title “youth pastor” and the description of duties for this job?”

    If Andy’s title was something different such as “youth group manager” or “youth group leader” or “youth group teacher” would he be considered clergy?

    If some of the information Jules shared with Andy was common knowledge to some other youth group members could that indicate that Jules considered Andy to be more of an equal or friend rather than a “pastor?”

  30. Arguenot wrote:

    his position not fitting the legal definition of Clergy (training, accreditation etc)

    If you are hired by a church as a youth pastor, you are a recognized member of the clergy for that church. While it is typical for a Southern Baptist pastor to be seminary trained or have some Bible school education, there are no specific training and accreditation requirements necessary to be a pastor. Some congregations expect licensing and ordination of their pastors; it’s not clear if Mr. Savage possessed that in Texas.

  31. @Bridget
    When my most recent comment clears customs, please accept my apology for accidently including you in my reply.

  32. Arguenot wrote:

    Clergy means an actual Pastor.

    …his position not fitting the legal definition of Clergy (training, accreditation etc) and her participation, there would have been no prosecution let alone a guilty verdict

    I don’t believe there is a legal definition of ‘clergy’ in the US. I understand that it would be up to the individual church to determine who is or is not in such a position. The other consideration is to look at his job title (includes ‘pastor’ – check).

    Legalities aside, this was morally wrong. To argue that he is off the hook on a legal technicality is also morally wrong.

  33. Bridget wrote:

    I believe that

    @ Arguenot:

    is of the same spirit as Parker Dax, College Boy, Smart Woman, etc.

    I believe you are correct.

  34. Forrest wrote:

    I don’t believe there is a legal definition of ‘clergy’ in the US. I understand that it would be up to the individual church to determine who is or is not in such a position. The other consideration is to look at his job title (includes ‘pastor’ – check).

    If there is no legal definition, then how does the internal revenue service determine who is “clergy” for the purpose of paying for housing using tax-advantaged funds? Can
    a church call an individual a “youth pastor” and give that individual a housing allowance that doesn’t count towards their total income? In other words, use the title as a tax dodge when in reality the individual may be nothing more than a “youth group leader” or a “youth group teacher.”

  35. @ Bridget:
    Oh sure.
    @ Ken G:
    I’m not sure why it matters. If baptist churches don’t want people to be considered clergy they should stop putting pastor in the titles. It sure matters to someone, since women are all directors! The church is the one representing him as pastor. There is some element of spiritual guidance here, for whatever that was worth from one such as Andy.

    I don’t care about legalities, he was an older adult put in charge of youth and should not have acted as he did. Clergy or not.

  36. @ Ken G:
    My church which is not baptist has a complicated process including education, ordination, etc for someone to be considered clergy so it’s totally different.

    Churches like highpoint don’t even care if you have a degree sometimes. Andy was probably no more qualified when he started that church than when he worked with Jules on that score.

  37. Ken G wrote:

    Forrest wrote:

    I don’t believe there is a legal definition of ‘clergy’ in the US. I understand that it would be up to the individual church to determine who is or is not in such a position. The other consideration is to look at his job title (includes ‘pastor’ – check).

    If there is no legal definition, then how does the internal revenue service determine who is “clergy” for the purpose of paying for housing using tax-advantaged funds? Can
    a church call an individual a “youth pastor” and give that individual a housing allowance that doesn’t count towards their total income? In other words, use the title as a tax dodge when in reality the individual may be nothing more than a “youth group leader” or a “youth group teacher.”

    I think churches do have significant control over who is considered to be part of their ‘clergy’.

  38. Lea wrote:

    Arguenot wrote:

    From what I read, the youth Pastor was just completing his Freshman year in college, which would normally put him at 19 or 20.

    Wrong. He *started* as a freshman, he was 22 when this happened, which is a 5 year age difference. BTW, dif between 17 and 22 in life experience is huge. Most adults are in full time jobs at 22.
    Arguenot wrote:

    He hardly seemed predatory with stopping and then falling on his knees outside of the truck.

    After he got what he wanted, he switched to damage control.

    Arguenot is a bit late to the party….yawn

  39. @ Arguenot:
    With respect to being a “pastor”, Andy Savages’ church thought he was “spiritual enough” to teach/lead some sort of “purity” seminar soon after his “organic sexual moment”! While I do not want to diminish Jules experience, given that Darcy (SP?) tracked Jules down to find out what really happened, more than just Jules was effected by all of this.

    I had earlier versions of these “purity” seminars pounded down on me, and I remember how “legalistic” they are… The hypocrisy of all of this effects more than Jules…. the kids in the “purity classes” are not stupid, they can see how inconsistent not just Andy Savage, but the whole program is…

  40. Dee,

    I have been challenging my entrenched thinking on a variety of doctrinal topics in recent years, and you can take credit in knowing that this site has opened my eyes to extra-biblical patriarchal practice, and Wade Burleson’s broader view of gender value in ministry.

    As a male exposed for years of rigid, fundamental baptist methodology, I remember how spiritually refreshing it was to first experience compassionate teaching communicated at normal speaking volumes from the pulpit without fist pounding and other theatrics.

    I am embarrassed when considering what I allowed myself to tolerate as a ‘lowly pew sitter’. I think that all believers have similar anecdotes that document the growth process in discernment, from drinking spiritual milk, to becoming a proper ‘carnivore’. Spirit led, progressive revelation in our walk makes this life dynamic, with anticipated evolving theology.

    Going back to the unpleasant reference to self righteous ‘bully pulpits’, I harbor an intense longing to see genuine and consistent ‘brokenness’ in the demeanour of a shepherd addressing their flock. Those few pastors I have seen that expressed a humbled view of themselves as a common co-laborer in Christ, struggling to overcome their own shortcomings, draw my spirit to theirs in appreciation of their vulnerability and transparency.

    ‘Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought’. ‘Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position, Do not be conceited’. Romans 12:3, 12:16b.

    I find it instructive (as well as amusing) to consider the contradictory proposition, ‘If a competition were held, and search was made to recognize the nation’s ‘Most Humble Person’…would they accept their nomination and appear publicly to receive the award?

    In similar fashion, it is so often revealed that the person most qualified to be used by God, is the very one in which profound insecurity is confessed, ‘having no confidence in the flesh’. Being emptied of worldly ‘wisdom’, acknowledging that God can use a donkey or elicit glory for himself, from stones.

    Okay, so this is the premise inspiring a re-evaluating of my traditional thinking about restoration of overseers and deacons. The ways of interpreting pastoral character that is ‘above reproach’, is from my view, not settled, nor well defined.

    The more stringent and unforgiving one ‘sets the bar’, the more unlikely it would be that (had mankind been the judge), Peter would have been restored among the twelve disciples after thrice, publicly denying Christ and violently assaulting a citizen with his sword, wounding and disfiguring Malchus’ head and ear.

    Would we have the same NT content, had it been left to mankind, to evaluate whether Paul was deemed ‘fit’ to
    serve in ministry, when considering his intense hatred for ‘The Way’, and the violence he inflicted upon innocents, culminating with his public approval for Stephen’s death?

    There can be no doubt, that Paul was rightly haunted by the sins of his former self, that he truly walked in Spirit-led repentance after he glimpsed in horror at the depths of his own wickedness. I believe he despaired over his ‘moral failures’ and he sought refuge in prayer and meditation after his trust in the institutional theology of the day and accomplished rhetoric was shattered.

    Commenters would likely agree here, that there is a lack of lowly, servant-like leadership exhibited in churches today, and it is precisely this entitled self-aggrandizement that leads to the abuses that we all lament. I think it is possible for restoration of a ‘morally failed’ overseer or deacon to occur, (under the right circumstances).

    I am definitely NOT speaking in reference to this specific incident at High Point church, or to any other,…just to the concept that deeply humiliating, sin exposing reflection can lead to a more effective tool in God’s hand, and possibly display most appropriately, the underlying theme of the Bible; Restoration of man’s relationship to God and amongst his fellow man.

    If a shepherd could publicly and continually ‘own’ their moral failure, using it as an example to abhor and pleading with the congregation to avoid their calamity, their confession could manifest redeeming value from the selfish violation of another. Confident reliance upon credentials, image, experience and memorized dogma could be disavowed, and interior reconstruction of the soul through a new experiential understanding of merciful grace could
    bring beauty from ashes.

    Again, these thoughts are theoretical, and not intended to be applied to any particular incident of clergy sexual abuse crimes or pastoral malpractice.

  41. @ Dave:
    Dave, thanks for your reflection on things.

    I don’t think you will find many Wartburgers who set a bar that is stringent and unforgiving. Most commenters on this sad event have spoken with loving and forgiving hearts, but not quick to restore a pastor who has failed morally. There are no examples in the New Testament of that.

    In regard to Paul and Peter. After the resurrection, when the Holy Spirit fell on both the pulpit and pew, they got it. Their actions were then Spirit-led, rather than driven by the flesh. We should expect the same in our leaders today.

    Regarding tools in God’s hand, I never trust a pastor who has not been through some stuff … who has emerged humble and broken. But that “stuff” IMO should not be moral sins committed with the folks who trust them. We should expect honesty and transparency from the men who occupy our pulpits. If Andy Savage (and Chris Conlee for that matter) emerge humble and broken by this, they will be better tools in God’s hands. Where they then best fit in the Body of Christ depends on that. There are other ways to serve Christ than standing in a pulpit … some of the most humble, broken, and faithful servants of the Lord are those who may not have a platform but who go quietly about their calling under the banner of Christ. The least shall be first in the Kingdom.

  42. Dave wrote:

    If a shepherd could publicly and continually ‘own’ their moral failure, using it as an example to abhor and pleading with the congregation to avoid their calamity, their confession could manifest redeeming value from the selfish violation of another.

    Words, though. You’re talking about words. All these guys generally do is talk.

    What are their actions? Show me that.

  43. Girl Bye wrote:

    My accusations are not unsubstantiated. Ask Jules to see if she is transparent enough to tell the complete truth about her sexual past.

    Standard deal off the bottom of the deck rape defense:
    Paint the rape victim as a WHORE! WHORE! WHORE!

  44. Lea wrote:

    Dave wrote:
    If a shepherd could publicly and continually ‘own’ their moral failure, using it as an example to abhor and pleading with the congregation to avoid their calamity, their confession could manifest redeeming value from the selfish violation of another.

    Words, though. You’re talking about words. All these guys generally do is talk.

    What are their actions? Show me that.

    A bit of Eighties music:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYVyPvEoMXw

  45. AbuseCrusher wrote:

    Is anyone else out there starting to believe that maybe there are no demons in Hell; they are all in church/”Christian” leadership?!?

    “Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the Enemy’s altar!”
    — Screwtape

  46. Remnant wrote:

    Highpoint Memphis is putting this phrase on their social media: Compassion without Compromise.

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRNGTH

  47. Avid Reader wrote:

    College Boy is saying that the whole group here—-with our combined many years of life and work experience—still doesn’t have a clue what we’re doing but of course, college boy has all the answers to straighten us out even though he’s still a tender young thing who hasn’t reached manhood yet!

    In the words of the prophet Robert Zimmerman:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZwncQfvaKk

  48. Mercy wrote:

    What we are seeing is a text book Abuser/victim scenario where the minions rally around the abuser to minimise, deflect, victim blame, level the field etc. Classic.

    A successful abuser does not just groom his victim.
    He also grooms third parties (especially those in authority) in advance as loyal allies and minions.

  49. @Max, @Lea,

    True, I don’t see an example of a restored overseer in scripture…nor do I see a female overseer appointed to shepherd a congregation, yet I am now open to that possibility. As a recovering legalist, I previously considered it quasi-heretical to ordain an unmarried male pastor, or a married male pastor without children, based upon my extremely literal interpretation of Titus and Timothy.

    I recognize that excessive liberties taken by hyper-charismatics in refusing to acknowledge a closed canon, lead to all manner of dangerous doctrinal error, but the legalist can be equally wrong and damaging, when dogmatically stating to the effect; “God doesn’t work that way, God cannot use that kind of…(insert hobby horse)…to bring glory to himself”.

    Lea, Yes, I agree…talk is cheap. That’s why I consider our Lord’s instructions for the Passover meal in the upper room; “Do this, in rememberance of me”, to be a much broader imperative, to imitate his example in all things to his followers.

    If my mind is held captive by the love of Christ, the content of my heart by which my mouth reveals, will be consistent with my actions.

    Jesus on the other hand, rebuked the Pharisees for fixating on shallow, visible behavior (without regard for the intentions, and God’s purposes in the larger context). “Stop judging by mere appearance,…and make a right judgment!” “Man looks upon the outward appearance, but God judges the heart”.

  50. @ Dave:
    Dave, I guess I’m just hoping for some of level of holiness and purity to return to the American church … rather than tolerating a lowering of the bar by successive generations. Perhaps I’m just an old fuddy-duddy thinking that is possible at this point in time. I certainly don’t want to come across as knowing what God would do in any of our lives, who He uses and He won’t. I’m just growing weary of the increasing number of reports of the pulpit failing the pew and getting away with it. Sometimes in the silence of the night as I reflect on these things, I imagine hearing a shout from Heaven “Enough is enough! Get it right Church!”

  51. Max,

    I understand your noble desire for a purifying of the pulpit to occur. We know ultimately that it will, but it may take persecution in the form of full blown Islamisation of our government to initiate.

    The 24/7 news cycle is likely wearing us all down with sustained information overload, reporting on things that had always been happening elsewhere,…but we were simply unaware of it. (Ignorance can be bliss, when there is no actionable response…cynicism and worry becomes the only by product).

    Years ago I finally concluded that I was literally ‘making myself miserable’ watching too much news and commentary regarding national and world events. We can lose the beauty of Christ and injure our conscience shifting our focus off of him, and onto the circumstances (Peter walking….momentarily, on the water).

  52. Dave wrote:

    it may take persecution

    The Church of the Living God has always been its best during periods of persecution.

    Dave wrote:

    I was literally ‘making myself miserable’

    Sometimes God gives you a burden so that you will know how to pray and where to use the gifts He has given you for the season at hand.

  53. @ Max:
    I, personally, do not dispair from all of the stories on TWW. When one looks at human history, and more specifically since JC, the behavior of “religious” people has not been “pretty”. In fact, during most of the history of Europe, those of us that post on TWW would be persecuted, and many people were, literally, burt at the stake, for questioning church authority……

    IMHO, personal freedoms are not the defalt postion of humans; in fact the opposite is true. Humans seem to prefer authoritarian leaders, untill the leaders get REALLY bad, and there are revolutions/reformations., with much bloodshed. We should feel fortunate that we are able to express our opinions, and have the freedom to question those that abuse others!

    Finally, I actually think it is minorly funny how, such as in the current situation, some defenders of HighPoint and AS think of us as a “mod”!! Really, expressing our thoughts/opinions on a “blog” is a mob?? After all the uears sitting in the pews listen to preacher boys rail other religions, and then when some of us think that our religious leaders should be held accountable for the very behavior they rail against? Like “purity”??

  54. Jeffre J Chalmers wrote:

    some defenders of HighPoint and AS think of us as a “mob”!! Really, expressing our thoughts/opinions on a “blog” is a mob??

    Highpoint members should consider themselves fortunate that others in the Body of Christ are concerned about their spiritual well-being. I suppose it’s natural for one to cry fowl when church leaders you love and trust have been challenged. But, after a while, that initial feeling needs to give way to common sense, if not spiritual sense.

  55. Ken G wrote:

    If some of the information Jules shared with Andy was common knowledge to some other youth group members could that indicate that Jules considered Andy to be more of an equal or friend rather than a “pastor?”

    In Jules’ story she refers to Andy Savage as “my pastor”. Absent any contradictory evidence I think that settles what she considered Andy to be.

  56. Robert M wrote:

    Ken G wrote:

    If some of the information Jules shared with Andy was common knowledge to some other youth group members could that indicate that Jules considered Andy to be more of an equal or friend rather than a “pastor?”

    In Jules’ story she refers to Andy Savage as “my pastor”. Absent any contradictory evidence I think that settles what she considered Andy to be.

    I agree. Also, even if anything did become ‘common knowledge’ that doesn’t require Jules to be the source.

  57. Robert M wrote:

    In Jules’ story she refers to Andy Savage as “my pastor”. Absent any contradictory evidence I think that settles what she considered Andy to be.

    She called him “my pastor” but Jules should explain from the perspective of a 17 year old what the significance of the title ‘pastor’ meant to her at that time. For all I know, Andy could have been functioning as a combination glorified baby sitter, entertainer and Sunday school teacher wrapped up in a fancy title, “Youth Pastor.” If that’s the case, I wouldn’t consider him clergy.

  58. Pingback: 20! Think about 20! Don’t think about 17! | SorryWatch UNITED STATES

  59. Ken G wrote:

    She called him “my pastor” but Jules should explain from the perspective of a 17 year old what the significance of the title ‘pastor’ meant to her at that time. For all I know, Andy could have been functioning as a combination glorified baby sitter, entertainer and Sunday school teacher wrapped up in a fancy title, “Youth Pastor.” If that’s the case, I wouldn’t consider him clergy.

    Does it matter? He was hired for a specific position and he abused that position with Jules. It does not matter what Jules thought. He had a responsibility to the kids in the group.

  60. Bridget wrote:

    Does it matter?

    Right? He was over teenagers…men are not appointed to guide teenagers in order to prey on their youth and vulnerability.

    If baptist churches want to label every man a pastor they can’t turn around and complain when they get held to some standards.

  61. Ken G wrote:

    Andy could have been functioning as a combination glorified baby sitter, entertainer and Sunday school teacher wrapped up in a fancy title, “Youth Pastor.” If that’s the case, I wouldn’t consider him clergy.

    If he was given the title “Pastor”, regardless of exact function, he was a member of the clergy of that church. A youth baby sitter/entertainer/teacher is typically called a Youth “Leader” … “Pastor” carries more weight, responsibility, and expectation in the Body of Christ. IMO, the church doesn’t need to put young people under Youth Pastors – they need to be discipled by more mature saints of God.

  62. Lea wrote:

    If baptist churches want to label every man a pastor they can’t turn around and complain when they get held to some standards.

    Exactly.

    I’m an old guy. I’m so old, I can remember a day when there wasn’t a “Youth Ministry” in church. That term, along with “Youth Pastor” came about in the 1970s. It was largely in response to provide a media-driven generation with an entertainment-driven alternative to doing church. Local churches competed to draw area youth by offering pizza, movies, skating parties, etc. on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. While church services were being conducted in the sanctuary, the kids were in the basement with a cool dude-bro doing Christianity Lite things which fed their flesh but not their spirit. Later, the bands and praise teams started showin up with their spiky hair and tight jeans to fill the youngsters’ cravings for more. The production became more elaborate with sound systems, light shows, smoke machines … until the youth grew up to become young adults and demanded that the whole church operate this way. Older folks held on until their eardrums gave out. Charismatic leaders moved in, replacing men of God. Stages were constructed over prayer altars to give pride more room to strut about. Voila! Mega-church was born!

  63. Bridget wrote:

    Does it matter? He was hired for a specific position and he abused that position with Jules. It does not matter what Jules thought. He had a responsibility to the kids in the group.

    Of course he had responsibility, I’m not denying that. IMO the title ‘pastor’ is meaningless and it may be conferred for various reasons such as to boost an ego, add gravitas to a job, impress the congregation or even outsiders. So Jules reference to Andy as “my pastor” is meaningless unless Jules has something specific in mind about the relationship between Andy and the group. Andy may have been nothing more than a 20+ something adult involved with a youth group. Yes, report him to the authorities, but the link between ‘pastor’ and ‘clergy’ definitely need to be clarified and understood.

  64. Max wrote:

    I guess I’m just hoping for some of level of holiness and purity to return to the American church … rather than tolerating a lowering of the bar by successive generations. Perhaps I’m just an old fuddy-duddy thinking that is possible at this point in time. I certainly don’t want to come across as knowing what God would do in any of our lives, who He uses and He won’t. I’m just growing weary of the increasing number of reports of the pulpit failing the pew and getting away with it. Sometimes in the silence of the night as I reflect on these things, I imagine hearing a shout from Heaven “Enough is enough! Get it right Church!”

    Max,

    Keep standing as a watchman on the wall, sounding that warning. It’s true—God’s standards haven’t changed—no matter how many leaders in the Church have lost sight of them.

  65. @ Avid Reader:
    Thanks AR. I was beginning to wonder if anyone out there was listening! I needed your encouragement this morning … growing a little weary with the condition of the church (little “c”) and those who accuse me of having a critical spirit for speaking about it. I would never criticize the Church (big “C”). But much of what we are seeing across the American landscape is the church, not the Church.

  66. Ken G wrote:

    Of course he had responsibility, I’m not denying that

    And yet, you seem pretty invested in the idea that he somehow wasn’t clergy.

  67. The connection or link between the title “pastor” and making the individual with that title a member of the “clergy” is missing and not defined. I guess an individual could be given the title “Pastor of Janitorial Services” and that individual would now be considered clergy even though the responsibilities of that position are simply cleaning and restocking the restrooms. I don’t know why you would consider such an individual clergy, but if you do so be it.

  68. Ken G wrote:

    The connection or link between the title “pastor” and making the individual with that title a member of the “clergy” is missing and not defined. I guess an individual could be given the title “Pastor of Janitorial Services” and that individual would now be considered clergy even though the responsibilities of that position are simply cleaning and restocking the restrooms. I don’t know why you would consider such an individual clergy, but if you do so be it.

    Really? There is a huge difference between a Youth Pastor (a very common position) and a janitor. The issue is about the responsibilities that go with the position, not the job title.

  69. Forrest wrote:

    The issue is about the responsibilities that go with the position, not the job title.

    I agree 100% All the comments I’ve read are devoid of any discussion of Andy’s responsibilities and duties. They just jump to the conclusion that Andy is “clergy” simply due to the word “pastor” being in his title. I think it is an error to assume anything about Andy’s job description regardless of whether he has a common job title. It’s too simple to conclude that every Youth Pastor in every church has the exact same job description.

  70. Rule 505: Privilege For Communications to a Clergy Member. (a) Definitions. In this rule: (1) A “clergy member” is a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science Practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization or someone whom a communicant reasonably believes is a clergy member.

    From the Texas legal code.

  71. @ GreekEpigraph:
    That last part is very important. However, when church deals with this type of thing there isxalso an underlying moral issue in addition to any legal duty. So even if the law wasn’t broken, there has been a moral failure.

  72. GreekEpigraph wrote:

    A “clergy member” is … someone whom a communicant reasonably believes is a clergy member.

    From the Texas legal code.

    Youth under the direction of someone called a Youth Pastor reasonably believe them to be a member of their church’s clergy … someone who can be trusted.

  73. Forrest wrote:

    even if the law wasn’t broken, there has been a moral failure

    Easy Church – the one that lives under cheap grace, who write their own standards – doesn’t get that.

  74. When the church has to resort to the legal code, the church has missed the forest for the trees.

  75. Bridget wrote:

    When the church has to resort to the legal code, the church has missed the forest for the trees.

    More and more i see ithe “church” as an entity different than the Body of Christ.

  76. GreekEpigraph wrote:

    Rule 505: Privilege For Communications to a Clergy Member. (a) Definitions. In this rule: (1) A “clergy member” is a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science Practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization or someone whom a communicant reasonably believes is a clergy member.

    This rule defines “clergy” for the purpose of determining the application of the clergy-penitent privilege, also known as confidentiality of communications. In this respect, it provides that communication to a clergy member, made privately and not intended for further disclosure, in his or her capacity as “spiritual adviser”, are privileged. It’s possible (perhaps not in Texas) this privilege can apply to any confidential communication beyond the bounds of “spiritual” communication, such as marriage or addiction counseling.

    Rule 505 includes the title “minister” as a member of the clergy. However, the IRS has its own rules for determining who qualifies as a “minister” for tax purposes. Basically, Rule 4 must be satisfied. Other factors considered are 1. Does the individual administer the sacraments 2. Does the individual conduct worship services? 3. Does the individual perform services in the “control, conduct, or maintenance of a religious organization” under the authority of a church denomination or religious denomination? 4. Is the individual “ordained, commissioned, or licensed?” 5. Is the individual considered a spiritual leader by his or her religious body?

    My take on all of this is the church that employed Andy some 20 years should have explained to the congregation, the youth group and to Andy himself whether he was considered a “spiritual adviser” by the church and then back-up the basis for their position with written documents. The church may have been remiss in this regard. Obviously, to me anyway, the IRS would not consider Andy a “minister” for tax purposes.

  77. Ken G wrote:

    My take on all of this is the church that employed Andy some 20 years should have explained to the congregation, the youth group and to Andy himself whether he was considered a “spiritual adviser” by the church and then back-up the basis for their position with written documents.

    They did. It’s called his job title. I’m sure was written down plenty of places. Ridiculous.

  78. Ken G wrote:

    or someone whom a communicant reasonably believes is a clergy member.

    The above is what the communicants (youth group) believed as would any youth group member.

  79. Bridget wrote:

    Ken G wrote:

    or someone whom a communicant reasonably believes is a clergy member.

    The above is what the communicants (youth group) believed as would any youth group member.

    Yes, that would be quite a normal understanding.

  80. Max wrote:

    @ Avid Reader:
    Thanks AR. I was beginning to wonder if anyone out there was listening! I needed your encouragement this morning … growing a little weary with the condition of the church (little “c”) and those who accuse me of having a critical spirit for speaking about it. I would never criticize the Church (big “C”). But much of what we are seeing across the American landscape is the church, not the Church.

    Max,

    They always stone the people God sends to warn them. I hope that you never allow that to stop you. We need more watchmen on the wall like you, sounding the alarm. God doesn’t lower His standards even when we lower ours.

    What you said is true. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psa 110:11), yet we are rapidly losing the fear of God in the church as a whole. The leaders are lying to us. They teach the “nice” Gospel. Just be a nice person. Repentance doesn’t matter because God loves you right where you are at.

    They don’t understand that God is not mocked. Whatever we sow, we reap. Sowing to the flesh really does bring corruption.

    This is what I was just reading about someone who had a near death experience where God showed them a vision of the road to hell:

    “The Lord said, “Look at this wide street.” I saw a street where a multitude of believers were walking, and they were even carrying bibles. I saw some praying and others were singing praises.”

    “I saw how the narrow road of God branched off to the right, but the Christians continued walking straight to hell. Jesus explained, “They have a double life; they are living two lives: one in My house of prayer, and another in their own houses.” I said, “But Lord, these people are praising Your Name!” Jesus replied, “Yes, and even when they cry, shout, and say nice things about Me or to Me, their hearts are full of adultery, full of evil, full of lies, full of deception, full of hate, full of roots of bitterness, full of bad thoughts.” Then, I understood what was written in Scripture “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)”

    (From Testimony of Carmelo Brenes)

  81. Lea wrote:

    They did. It’s called his job title. I’m sure was written down plenty of places. Ridiculous.

    Job title is really not sufficient. The description of the duties is what is important. For example, Andy may of had the discretion to hold plenary discussions with the group about drugs, etc. But did he have the authority to meet alone one on one in his office or other private location and provide spiritual guidance to an individual of the group who may be guilt ridden about their drug use? He may not of had that authority. The church needs to be transparent. The individual who confides in Andy that he has guilt about drug use may assume Andy is clergy. That assumption even if incorrect applies only to confidentiality because the individual holds the communications privilege and not Andy. In other words, the individual and not Andy can tell others that he has guilt about drug use.

  82. @ Avid Reader:
    “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand.” (Proverbs 8:1-2)

  83. Ken G wrote:

    Job title is really not sufficient. The description of the duties is what is important

    Important to whom???

    Good night Ken. If the church presents him as a pastor it is reasonable for a teenage girl to assume that is what he is.

  84. Lea wrote:

    If the church presents him as a pastor it is reasonable for a teenage girl to assume that is what he is.

    Lea, some folks get so focused on gray that they can’t see black and white. Even exercising common sense can be a big effort for them.

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