“(Jerry Vines) He has the rare ability to possess the passion of a prophet and the erudition of a scholar and it’s been a big influence on shaping my own approach to the pulpit.” JD Greear
I will return to 3 more stories of abuse in the UPCI. However, I needed to get Monday’s story and this one out due to time sensitivity.
Designated means someone has to do the designating.
A week ago, there was a bit of a melee on Twitter over the post that I wrote about designated™ survivors. However, those who were concerned did not appear to have read my post SBC Leadership Wants Designated™ Survivors. Why They Need to Hear From Those Who Don’t Make Them Feel Comfortable nor did they seem to fully comprehend the definition of the term.
It appears that some survivors who are going to speaking at the Caring Well conference took umbrage at my terminology believing that I was saying that designated™ survivors were pawns or somehow self-appointed to their speaking role. One person even claimed that she *knew* my post was about her. It wasn’t about any of them.
I was making a point which I believe is important. The word *designated* has a specific meaning, a meaning that I intended. It means to be appointed, deputized, nominated or to be chosen. The person who is designated is not the person who has the authority to designate. Given the fact that I was talking about the SBC, it is patently obvious that the only ones who can do the designating are the male only leadership of the SBC.
In other words, JD Greear, Russell Moore, etc are the ones who get to do the designating at this conference. None of the designated™ survivors were in any position to make themselves designees. My post was intended to raise the question of who got designated and who didn’t get designated.
I was told to change the term. I refuse to do so because it is a helpful word which I will use again in this post to connote those who have been chosen as worthy leaders of the SBC and those who have not. In this particular instanced, Paige Patterson is designated unworthy (and rightfully so as I well know because I called for his resignation in 2009 while some of the present day leaders were hobnobbing and back slapping him back then. You will see a link to that post.) I am going to make the claim that Jerry Vines is a designated™ SBC leader. I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m far from the truth as I will prove.
Today I am going to tell the story of Tiffany Thigpen (known as Tiffany Croft back in those early posts I wrote in 2009.) Tiffany is not a designated™ survivor. She will not be speaking at the Caring Well conference. I have a theory why that might be. She and I have talked recently and I’ve spoken to her about my concerns.
Note to those who thought my previous post was about them. I am not shy. (Stop laughing.) If my post is about a specific person, I will name the person as I have done here.
Darrell Gilyard, Tiffany Thigpen, and the Ignorance of the SBC leadership.
TWW and Wade Burleson wrote about Darrell Gilyard and Tiffany Thigpen two months after the start of TWW. We quoted from Wade Burleson in Revictimizing Victims. (The formatting is odd since we changed blogging platforms and I don’t have time to go back and make it look pretty.)
Walking Where SBC Preachers Fail to Tread
“The sordid case of former Southern Baptist pastor Darrell Gilyard is coming to a just and appropriate end. Gilyard has entered into a plea deal with prosecuters for multiple sex crimes, and will receive his sentencing this Thursday, May 21, 2009 before a media circus in state court. Gilyard is agreeing to his guilt on all charges and to three years incarceration in a state facility and then three years probation. He will also carry a permanent record identifying him as a sexual predator/offender. The court has also mandated periodic psychiatric evaluations and ongoing counseling.
A handful of leaders in our Convention … neglected to fulfill their God-given responsibilities to shut down Gilyard’s ministry and provide help to his victims. Alas, a young Southern Baptist woman, a Gilyard victim herself, approached the unenviable task of bringing Gilyard to justice with the zeal of a modern apostle. Tiffany Croft began her blog with the goal of treading where we Southern Baptist pastors and leaders feared to trod. With all the negative press from official channels in the SBC regarding blogs, it would be great to see someone like Tiffany be given credit using a blog to bring about good in our society.”
Most of the links to the original stories no longer work. However, if you enter Darrell Gilyard into the search field at TWW you will find number of stories written about this man from time to time.
Further history on Gilyard and the SBC boys who loved him.
Darell Gilyard was a Paige Patterson prodigy and was also pushed by Jerry Vines. According to Bob Allen at Baptist News Global in Probation terms altered to permit sex offender pastor to minister to children:
A native of Palatka, Fla., Gilyard rose to fame in the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 1980s under the mentorship of former SBC presidents Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson. Jerry Falwell’s pulpit gave Gilyard a platform to share on national television his dramatic testimony of growing up a homeless orphan who lived under a bridge, a story that was later discredited.
The attention helped Gilyard attain several pastorates, until confidence in him eroded after a series of sex scandals in the early 1990s. The Dallas Morning News published stories in 1991 saying dozens of women had accused Gilyard of sexual misconduct, with some alleging rape.
Gilyard began as pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Community Church in April 1993. He resigned Jan. 4, 2008, after a member of the congregation filed a police report claiming Gilyard sent sexually explicit text messages to her daughter.
Gilyard was arrested Jan. 14, 2008, and charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct. He pleaded guilty May 21, 2009, to molesting one girl and sending lewd text messages to another.
Gilyard completed a three-year prison sentence on Dec. 28, 2011. Four weeks later he took the pulpit at Christ Tabernacle Baptist Church, prompting community protests and a visit from Jacksonville Baptist Association, which resulted in an agreement that the church would “leave the fellowship” of the Southern Baptist Convention regional affiliate.
Paige Patterson received an untold number of complaints about Gilyard which he dismissed. He claimed that every victim needed to bring at least two witnesses to Gilyard’s actions and would also claim that all of these women also contributed to what amounted to a consensual relationship.
I called for Patterson’s resignation in 6/2009.
I quoted the following from Stop Baptist Predators at the time.
First Baptist officials said they knew of the allegations of sexual misconduct, which began as long as four years ago when Mr. Gilyard was removed as assistant pastor of Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. But they said they did not believe those allegations, and continued to recommend him. “We were dealing with a man of special gifts and talents,’ Dr. Patterson said. “I was unwilling to call anyone guilty until I had demonstratable evidence that these allegations were true.’ Dr. Patterson said that according to Scriptures, action cannot be taken against a minister accused of adultery unless there are two or more witnesses. He also asked for any other proof, such as photographs, videotapes or laboratory tests!”
Then, I wrote the following in that same post.
This travesty is all the more evident as we look at Patterson’s alleged cover up of Darryl Gilyard’s sin. He knew for years that there were regular complaints about this man. While Patterson was President of Criswell College, the complaints came in fast and furious! Let’s hear what this revered “man of the cloth” had to say. On the excellent stopbaptistpredators.org web site, there is an article from the Dallas Morning News from 1991 on the resignation of this predator from his Texas church due to sexual misconduct. Ironically, this man would continue to garner excellent recommendations from the likes of Patterson until his eventual arrest in Florida for continued sexual misconduct. As we detailed yesterday, Gilyard was finally sentenced just last Thursday!
“The morning after the resignation (in 1991), Dr. Patterson described Mr. Gilyard as one of the “most brilliant men in the pulpit.”
Wow! No, sorry for my cover up? How about an apology to the women and teenage girl raped and sucked in by Paige’s boy? Of course not. Just think, Patterson mentored this rapist for years!
A Florida judge allowed Gilyard to preach to children after he got out of prison.
Once he got out of jail, and returned to the pulpit in the SBC, he was not allowed to be in the presence of children. But then a judge decided it would be a great idea for him to preach to children… According to the previously quoted Bob Allen post:
A judge in Florida has changed probation terms for a preacher who is a registered sex offender to allow the former Southern Baptist pastor to minister to children in his church.
Darrell Gilyard, 52, began preaching at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., shortly after his release from prison in December 2011 for sex crimes against two minor girls at his previous church. It made international news when the church barred children from worship, because Gilyard’s probation prohibited him from having contact with minors.
Recently, according to Jacksonville television station WJXT, a judge agreed to modify the probation so Gilyard can “minister to children under the age of 18 as long as the children are supervised by an adult other than the defendant.”
Jerry Vines told a whopper in his autobiography and Tiffany Thigpen successfully gets the story corrected.
Jerry Vines loved his good buddy, Gilyard, and allowed him to preach from time to time at FBC Jacksonville. Baptist News reported
Toward the end of his memoir, Vines details his experience with Gilyard, a charismatic young African-American preacher who he and Patterson helped educate for the ministry in the 1980s. Gilyard went on to resign from five churches due to allegations of sexual misconduct.
“There were rumors,” Vines wrote. “Accusations of moral improprieties began to surface. All of them were denied by Darrell. Dr. Patterson checked them out as best he could. There were inconsistencies and contradictions in the stories. Some were made by church people who had moral failings themselves. One accuser was a member of the KKK. As it turns out the rumors were true. A young person in our FBC, Jacksonville church met with me about a matter of impropriety as well. I didn’t understand it to go beyond some flirtation. They were both single at the time. Perhaps I misunderstood.”
Croft says Vines is referring to her. She says it is true that she was single, because at the time she was a senior in high school and a leader in the youth group at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. Gilyard was 29, married and a pastor from Texas who traveled with her youth group as an evangelist on a mission trip.
…Croft said she contacted LifeWay Christian Resources to set the record straight. LifeWay spokesman Marty King said B&H has removed three sentences from future printings that “upon further reflection, Dr. Vines agrees do not accurately describe the situation.”
Tiffany Croft (now Tiffany Thigpen) had a blog which outlined her interactions with Gilyard and church leaders.
Her blog, Let’s Stop Darrell Gilyard Together is well worth the read to get inside information on Darrell Gilyard. Tiffany’s struggles were not recognized by the SBC leadership then and appears to be mostly forgotten at this point except for one phone call from Heath Lambert at FBC Jacksonville.
Then, the Houston Chronicle/Robert Donwnen stepped in on 8/22/19 and delivered a bombshell in The women are hurting’:“Unearthed tapes, letters show Southern Baptist leaders’ support for pastor who faced sex scandal”
Patterson continued to downplay the claims even after his protégé confessed and resigned from Victory Baptist Church, near Dallas, in July 1991. Speaking to the congregation that night, Patterson called many of the accusations untrue. Others he described as “sins” committed by women who were “not innocent either” and Gilyard, whom Patterson then hailed as a “spokesman of God” and “one of the most brilliant men who has ever stepped into the pulpit.”
Patterson also suggested that Victory members refrain from discussing the allegations publicly so that Gilyard could be rehabilitated — a suggestion he also had offered four years before, when Gilyard was forced out of a different Dallas-area church amid similar allegations, the new information reveals.
Is Jerry Vines a *designated* leader? Is this why Tiffany has been largely ignored by the current SBC leadership?
I believe this next point is crucial in understanding why Tiffany Thigpen has been ignored by current SBC leadership.I call it the the *Jerry Vines factor.* According to the Houston Chronicle:
Vines knew. They met when Gilyard — whose legal name at the time was Darrol Louis Gillard — was a young man and member of Vines’ megachurch in Jacksonville. Though Gilyard had no ministerial training, former members say Vines was enthralled by his charisma and heartwrenching story of growing up orphaned, a tale that was later questioned by reporters.
“Darrell was considered at one time to be the black Dr. Vines,” said Kenny St. John, who worked at Vines’ church. “Dr. Vines has a strong style. … Darrell kind of used the same approach.”
Gilyard would frequently preach from Vines’ pulpit at FBC Jacksonville. A youth leader reported his concerns about Gilyard’s behavior but it didn’t do any good.
tJohn said he objected when church leaders asked if Gilyard could accompany the youth choir on its annual out-of-state tour. They didn’t force the issue, St. John said, and no further action was taken because the concerns weren’t criminal. But St. John said it was clear to him that Gilyard was not suitable for ministry.
“He never really stopped his behavior,” St. John told the Chronicle. “He kind of went under the radar.”
…Gilyard soon was accused of misconduct or affairs by several women, and of threatening them by saying he had Vines and Patterson in his “hip pocket,” according to the 1991 tapes. One woman apparently wrote Gilyard a letter that he shared with Patterson, and a counselor also notified Patterson about phone recordings of Gilyard and one of her patients.
In fact, the year Jerry Vines was elected SBC president, Gilyard preached at the prestigious (at least in the eyes of SBC…) SBC Preacher’s Conference!
June 1989 — and as Simpkins says his phone calls were being ignored by Patterson — Gilyard preached at the SBC’s pastors’ conference, which precedes the group’s annual meeting each year. Vines was elected days later to his second term as SBC president.
According to the Houston Chronicle:
In his 2014 autobiography, Vines briefly discussed his relationship with Gilyard and wrote that he was once approached by a “young” member of his church about what he said was an “impropriety” and “flirtation” between two single people. Gilyard was married and nearing 30; Thigpen was barely 18. She later reached out to the book’s publisher, which retracted the section after finding that Vines hadn’t “accurately” described what happened, according to news reports.
Weeks after Thigpen says she told Vines about the alleged attack, Vines, Gilyard and Patterson each preached again at the SBC’s 1991 pastors’ conference.
…Soon after, Gilyard was called to a meeting near his Dallas church, where Simpkins, Dixius and others confronted him with a half-decade of allegations. His mentors were not there, and Gilyard appeared nervous as he was told why there was a video camera pointed toward him.
“The tape is being done because Dr. Vines would like to be in on this meeting, and Dr. Patterson would like to be in on this meeting, I’m sure,” said Keith Eitel, a Criswell professor at the time who worked for Patterson until recently. “I haven’t spoken with (Patterson) regarding that, but I know Dr. Vines would like to see the tape and he told me he would appreciate having one sent to him.”
Vines was warned but he then claimed he had to *forgive him.* What are they teaching at seminaries these days?
Do these preachers get any practical education whatsoever? A predator is adept at asking for forgiveness. It is unlikely that a predator will ever fully conquer his predilection. A best, with excellent counseling, they can be taught to control their urges. However, make no mistake. They still struggle inside.Yet Vines, according to Downen, quickly forgave him and even had him marry his son!!!!
Vines kept a distance from Gilyard until around 2003, when Gilyard admitted to his “moral failings,” according to Vines’ autobiography. “He assured me he had been clean since coming back to Jacksonville,” Vines wrote. “I had no other option but to forgive him.”
Despite writing that Gilyard should be barred from ministry, Vines soon rekindled his relationship with his former protégé: He preached at least twice at Shiloh, and Vines’ son, Jon, was also married at Gilyard’s church in a 2005 ceremony that Gilyard officiated, according to their marriage certificate.
…Thigpen said Vines has yet to reach out. After 28 years of near-silence, she’s lost faith that he ever will.
JD Greear endorsed Jerry Vines book in 2018, years after this all came to light.
In 2018, Greear was delighted to endorse book by Vines. There is no way that a well connected man like Greear hadn’t heard about the infamous Gilyard mess. Jerry Vines published The NKJV, Vines Expository Bible, Cloth over Board, Comfort Print: A Guided Journey Through the Scriptures with Pastor Jerry Vines. Let’s see what JD Greear said about Vines just one short year ago.
Curiously, the day after the quoted post and the following videos were released by the Houston Chronicle, Russell Moore tweeted. A number of people on Twitter drew my attention to it. It is likely that it was a coincidence but the timing was certainly bad. Especially since Russell Moore’s ERLC group is putting on the Caring Well Conference. I would contend that Caring Well means to be aware that the SBC is once again being called on the carpet and to be careful what one tweets in the immediate aftermath.
Watch the videos
Go to this link to view the videos: Exclusive videos show confrontation of Baptist pastor accused of sexual misconduct.
More designated nouns to come.
I have an idea and have gotten buy in from a few folks but timing on it is everything. So, we shall return to this subject in the not too distant future.
Note: This post is only about those who have been mentioned. I promise.
Dee “the designated™ editor.”