“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.” Ismail Haniyeh
Time to play catchup. Lots to read about for the weekend.:
Jeff Berry, Christian Musician, Arrested for Child Sex Crimes and SBC’s Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Abilene, Under Fire for Initial Response.
Berry was pretty well known around the Christian music scene. He often opened for well know singers like Michael W Smith. Here is a link to the church he was at when he allegedly molested a child.
The Abilene Reporter posted Jeffrey Berry extradited to Abilene in child sex crime case, released on bond.
A former Abilene man arrested in Nashville, Tennessee, on a warrant accusing him of a child sex crime is out on bond after being extradited to Abilene.
Jeffrey Charles Berry, 55, working as a Christian music artist manager in the Nashville area, was booked Wednesday into Taylor County Jail on a charge of second-degree felony indecency with a child by contact.
….=According to court document, the alleged offense occurred on or about March 1, 1996, when Berry was working as a music intern at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church and was a performing artist.
The victim was younger than 17.
USA Today reported:
Berry spent more than a decade directing Grace Bible Study, a Christian study group aimed at college students, and was a worship leader at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.
He was the frontman of the Jeff Berry Band, a praise and worship group formed in the early 2000s.
In Abilene, he headed a band called Grace, recorded and opened shows by well-known Christian artists, such as Michael W. Smith in May 1997 in Fort Worth.
Here is the first statement from Pioneer Drive Baptist Church which appeared on Facebook.
Read this statement carefully. After all the talk that the SBC is Caring Well…is this still going on?
Dear Church Family,
On KTXS news last night it was reported that a former employee of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Jeff Berry, was arrested and jailed in Nashville, Tennessee, on a child sex crime. The alleged offense dates back to the mid-1990s in Abilene. Our employment records reflect that Jeff Berry was employed as a music intern at Pioneer Drive for nine months in 1985-86 and was re-hired for a similar position on September 1, 1995. He continued in this position until May, 1996.
Jeff Berry is the 55-year-old son of Pioneer Drive members, Russell and Paula Berry. We love this family deeply. Just as our church rejoices with fellow members in good times, we also stand beside them offering prayer and strength in difficult times. This is exactly what we will do for the Berrys. They represent the best of our church and we will remain by their side.
We also pray for the alleged victims. Our hearts go out to any and all who have ever been abused in this way and to their families as well. May God bring healing and peace to their minds and souls.
Jeff Berry is my friend. I love him as a Christian brother. We have served in revivals together on two occasions. I am praying earnestly for Jeff today and will continue to do so.
We do not have all the facts surrounding this situation. We do not know the full story. I would urge against speculation and for compassion toward all involved. I would also remind us that God can bring good and even victory out of the most troubling and tragic circumstances. Please join me in praying for Him to do so now.
Grace to you,
This statement unleashed a firestorm which was written about bt Baptist Global’s Bob Allen: Under #caringwell scrutiny, Texas Baptist church slammed for response to abuse arrest
While national leaders continue grapple with new revelations of past missteps involving the reporting of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, a Texas church urged its members to give a former worship leader under arrest for alleged sex crimes in Tennessee the benefit of the doubt.
...Amy Smith, a blogger and longtime advocate for abuse survivors in Southern Baptist life, called it “a textbook church response in how to discourage other victims from coming forward to police thereby enabling an alleged child sexual predator.”
The church released a separate statement offering assurance that “Pioneer Drive is committed to the safety of our children and does not take these matters lightly” and pledging “to cooperate with any local authority and encourage others who have information regarding this circumstance to do so as well.”
If you take a look at the comments under this statement on Pioneer Drive Baptist Church Facebook page, you will discover that this was not well received and 130 comments on that page spell it out. (October 15). Here is one comment by Anne Marie Miller.
Needless to say, the church immediately realized that this did not play well and they released a second statement CLARIFYING STATEMENT FROM PASTOR STAN ALLCORN REGARDING HIS RECENT COMMUNICATION ABOUT A FORMER PIONEER DRIVE EMPLOYEE
Oct. 17, 2019
Tuesday morning, I (not Pioneer Drive Baptist Church) sent an email to the church family after news broke that an individual who last worked in our ministry 23 years ago had been arrested in Tennessee on charges linked to a child sex crime allegation.
I never intended to downplay the severity of the charges detailed in the arrest warrant or to diminish any victim of childhood sexual abuse or their families. I now realize that my words did both of those things. I also understand that my words caused many people both inside and outside of the Pioneer Drive family to be hurt and angry.
I am sorry.
I ask for your forgiveness.
My email has now been shared widely through social media by victims’ advocates and others. I understand my words were insensitive, and they did not convey what is truly in my heart.
Therefore, I want to be clear today when I tell you that Pioneer Drive will not protect those who harm children. We pledge to everyone who entrusts a child to us at Pioneer Drive through our many church activities, Mother’s Day Out or Child Development Center that the safety and well-being of your child is our top priority.
Pioneer Drive is committed to protecting children and to ministering to anyone who has been traumatized by sexual abuse. If you or someone in your family is a victim, Pioneer Drive will pray for you, serve and protect you, and help you in the healing process.
Pioneer Drive Baptist Church
The SBC has a long, long way to go. Someone on the ERLC needs to send Pastor Allcorn some materials stat.
John Piper Doesn’t Understand How the Real World Works
Maybe his naiveté is understandable given his celebrity status. If Piper were to be in a life threatening car accident, he would expect his fanboy doctors and nurses to take care of him, even if it occurred on a Sunday. When I saw this title: Advice for Christians Who Work Sundays, I knew we would be in for a typical answer. You must try to get to church on the Lord’s Day, no matter what.
Here was the question posed:
“Dear Pastor John, thank you for your wisdom over the years. By God’s grace, I have grown up in a solid Christian home and have known your name as long as I have known my own. I recently graduated as a registered nurse and now work in an ICU that requires all nurses to work every third weekend (Saturday and Sunday). Since I work day shift, this means that I miss being with the body of Christ every third Sunday for both the morning and evening. This is hard on me. I believe the Sabbath is a precious day of rest and refreshment in the Lord and in the company of his people. And yet, I am thankful to have the opportunity to help bring physical healing on the Lord’s Day, as our sweet Lord Jesus healed on the Sabbath. What wisdom could you give to us with jobs that require weekend work?”
His solution was one dimensional, given the fact that he spent all of his life as a pastor working on a Sunday.
He claims that we MUST worship within the 24 jours period that defines Sunday.
One implication of this was — and I think still should be — that on that first day of the week, we mark worship of the Kurios, worship of the Lord.
He goes on to say that the church should consider doin Sunday evening services to accommodate those who work. However, he shows a lack of understanding on how a nurse’s work schedule occurs. Most hospitals have nurses work 12 hour shifts (many stating at 7 AM or 7PM.) Believing that the shift only lasts 12 hours is a nice idea but many nurses end up working a t least13 hours. Also, the weariness factor comes in. Even if some churches did have very late or early morning services, a nurse who has worked two shifts on a weekend might be dangerously fatigued.
Piper shows a concerning lack of understanding of many people who, for various reasons, engage in a profession that requires these hours. His opinion are simplistic. We should all just seek to be employed in such a way that gives you the most freedom on the Lord’s Day. If this were to be adopted, Christians could not participate in many health care positions. They couldn’t become air traffic controllers since they have shift work. Police, firefighters, EMTs, military personnel, etc. are professions that good, Lord’s Day Christians wouldn’t pursue because it might interfere with hearing those all important sermons given by men who work every Sunday wouldn’t it?
I don’t believe that Piper travels too far outside his comfort zone these days. This post was lazy and he missed an opportunity to carefully think through this issue. Now, he leaves it up to his people to translate Piper for the rest of us.
Sovereign Grace Churches (aka Sovereign Grace Ministries) is experiencing a decline in church numbers: 7 will leave ( We think.) They are sure acting weird about it.
We have been hearing for months that some member churches have been quietly contemplating leaving SGC/SGM because the denomination (or family of churches or whatever they are calling it these days) will not consider an independent, third part investigation on the number of claims of child sex abuse and child sex abuse coverup.
There is nothing on the planet that will cause people to flee churches faster than churches participating in what is perceived to be a coverup. I am seeing it here in Raleigh as well as around the nation. Todd Wilhelm has written extensively about the decline in the ARBCA denomination after their problems surrounding coverup regarding Tom Chantry. And their denomination is so tiny that it is barely a blip on the important church radar.
SBC churches are quickly changing the name of their churches in order to remove the word *Baptist,” even though they are still SBC. One of the funnier videos I’ve seen is JD Greear explaining to The Summit Church that they really are SBC when he ran for the President of the SBC. Even he was afraid to tell people in our area that he, as well as his church, is SBC
One of the funniest phone exchanges that I have seen posted is the one that goes through Todd’s attempt to
get a confirmation that Grace Church in Frisco was leaving.for those of you who haven’t had 10 years of experience dealing with Sovereign Grace madness, this phone call is all you need. These people cannot answer a simple question, even a question whose answer in already known.
Todd, who spent time in an SGM church knew that he should document his attempt to reach the church. SGM used to deny all sorts of things. I’m convinced God invented screen shots due the bizarre behavior of SGM.
Receptionist Cheryl Webster answered my call. I identified myself and asked my simple question. She put me on hold and then came back on the line a short time later. She told me my question would have to be answered by a pastor, and the pastor was in a meeting. She said he should be out of the meeting in about an hour and asked for my phone number so the pastor could call me back after his meeting was over.
…So I sat back and waited for a phone call from a clergy member of the Frisco church.None came.
O.K., fine. The Clergy-class was probably too busy to make a two-minute call to me. And really, what right did I, an individual who had never donated a dime to their fiefdom, have to expect to talk to them?
…Never one to give up my search for truth so easily, I called Cheryl, the Deacon of Hospitality, again today. (See phone logs above) She talked kindly to me, as one would expect a Deacon of Hospitality would, and remembered me when I advised her that I had called yesterday and never received that promised return call. She once again put me on hold.
Upon returning to my call Cheryl advised me that she was going to put my call through to Lead Pastor, Craig Cabaniss. I thought this would be great, I would undoubtedly have my simple question answered by the top clergyman in the Frisco church.
His phone rang.
My call went to Lead Pastor Craig Cabaniss’ voicemail where I was then advised to leave my name and phone number! What? Surely Deacon Cheryl had just spoken with Clergyman Craig and he was expecting my call to be put through. Why would he not answer me? I hung up, determined to “believe the best” about my friends at Frisco, I figured something must have gone wrong with their phone transfer.
…So I called right back, at 10:34 to be precise. (See the logs above.) I was expecting Deacon Cheryl to answer and patch me right through to Clergyman Craig. Deacon Cheryl’s phone rang five or six times and then went to voicemail! I couldn’t believe it! These people were attempting to avoid my simple question by gaming me! I left a short, curt message stating I was just looking for a simple answer on whether or not their church was withdrawing from Sovereign Grace. I left my number once again and asked them to call me back.
If you once again examine the logs above you will see that I waited 34 minutes and, receiving no return call, I once again called Deacon of Hospitality, Cheryl. The phone rang five or six times and again went to voicemail. This time I was upset and said that the way I was being treated was despicable, much more the way I would expect to be treated from a Sovereign Grace Church than a church that was leaving the denomination. I stated that judging by the fact that they did not answer my simple question by stating no, they had not left the denomination I surmised that they in fact were leaving. I said I hoped they would learn how to treat people better and then bid Cheryl goodbye.
Then it really got interesting.
Thirty-five minutes after my last phone call Cheryl called me back. I answered.
Helloooo Grace Church!
Nothing. Silence. Then she hung up.
One-minute later Cheryl called me again. I answered.
Hello, Deacon of Hospitality Cheryl!
Nothing. Silence once again. I set the phone down and about 10 seconds later Cheryl hung up.
This was unbelievable treatment. I can only guess as to what Deacon Cheryl and Clergyman Craig were thinking by calling me and refusing to speak. My guess? They realized how ridiculous their little game of not answering my call would look to the world when I blogged about it, so they attempted to create a paper trail which would allow them to say that they returned my call but I didn’t answer, or they returned my call but obviously were encountering technical difficulties with their phones.
The bottom line is there is really no excuse for the treatment I received from these classless individuals. It speaks volumes about what type of church they are running. And speaking of running, if I were a member I would run from that place as fast as I could. It is clear to me that merely withdrawing from Sovereign Grace Churches is not going to solve their problems.
Why did they refuse to answer my simple question? If they did not want to answer they could have stated that “at this time they did not care to answer.” Fair enough. Or they could have admitted that they were withdrawing, but would I please hold off publishing that until they had time to formally withdraw and advise their church members? I have honored requests like that from churches in ARBCA. Instead, they played some immature and inexplicable game with me.
Would it surprise you if I told you they didn’t return my call today either? Does anyone over there understand how to just confirm or deny a report? It really isn’t hard to not sound like a bunch of middle school kids making prank calls.