We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Update:Scroll to the end of the post
‘We are in the midst of a blogsite update. Please bear with us. I will try to keep up with my posts. but they may be posted late or on a different day than usual.
The Wes Feltner situation is evolving rapidly. Therefore, as new statements/ info are released from various entities, I will be updating this post, adding new information at the bottom of the post. This is a long post with much information.
Wes Feltner: a long time SBC Pastor and SBTS instructor credibly accused of sex abuse of two victims.
Here is a summation of the current situation.
Who is Wes Feltner?
Feltner is a long time SBC Pastor, having served in a number of churches in various positions. He received his PhD from SBTS (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and is a adjunct professor (well, was until yesterday) at SBTS. Here is his bio from his website:
Two women have come forward and stated that he molested them when he was their youth pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana.
The two victims created a website to tell their story: Brought to the Light. I alerted Megan thay I would be telling their story. She said to reference their website where they told their stories.
Why did Megan and JoAnna come forward at this time?
Here is their statement from their website.
First Baptist Church of Clarksville, Tennessee was in search of a new lead pastor. When a local resident heard the name of their lead candidate, Wes Feltner, she felt compelled to share her knowledge of his past. Her sister was on a joint youth winter retreat in December 2002 with Joe Donahue’s and Wes Feltner’s youth groups. On the trip, two young women confided in her that they were in relationships with their youth pastor.
Wes Feltner’s candidacy was protested to the search committee, and Joe Donahue’s contact information was provided. The Pastor Search Committee chairman then asked Joe Donahue to reach out to the victims to see if they were willing to speak to the Chairman. Via Facebook, Joe reached out to JoAnna and Megan. Megan immediately deleted the friend request because she remembered Joe was Wes’ best friend in 2002. JoAnna responded, reached out to Megan, and both girls agree to talk with the chairman and submitted written statements to be shared with the committee.
Both JoAnna’s and Megan’s statements were provided to the Pastor Search Committee Chairman for First Baptist Church, Clarksville. Joe, concerned that the information was not being fully share with the entire pastor search committee, also shared the written statements with a committee member directly.
Even with the new information, it seemed as though the chairman was pushing Wes’ approval process forward.
Both women received emails from FBC Clarksville that appear threatening to me.
Frankly, these response by the church are deeply disturbing to me. Perhaps they didn’t attend the Caring Well conference?
Let me pull out a few statements from the emails
Joe Donahue chose to bypass me and circumvent our committee process by sending your information directly to another member of the committee with instructions to send it all to the entire committee. His intent appears to be to interfere with employment.
…Don’t let anyone, not me and not these others, coax you to share this beyond what you and your husband decide to do. You have more to lose than any of the rest of us. In this search process, which is similar to a corporate hiring process, we scour the Internet for details. You don’t likely want this situation to be what your kids and your future employers find at the top of the search about you, and I fear that Joe’s further publication of it would do just that. In modern day HR, and in society in general, people take sides in stories and there may be as many that point an accusing finger at you, even as inappropriate as that may be.
It becomes an element of your Internet footprint that Google reveals to your kids and future employment for either of you. In our scouring the Internet for details on this pastor search, we look for details about the whole family. Even in corporate HR, everything out there becomes a factor, and the fickle general public will seemingly flip a coin to decide if you are the bad guy or the other side.
I feel responsible that our search might have started this, and I do not want you and your family to pay the price.
Let’s back up: Wes Feltner is currently lead pastor at Berean Baptist Church and is applying from there to be the new lead pastor at FBC Clarksville
It should be pointed out that Baptist Global’s Bob Allen, in another great article, had this to say in Southern Seminary removes adjunct professor, reviews dissertation, following abuse allegations
Megan then received what appeared to me to be a call threatening potential legal *stuff.* You can listen to the call on the home page.
His email is believed to have been forwarded to Wes Feltner, because Megan received a voicemail on October 11, 2019 from a personal injury attorney in the Minneapolis area claiming to be “with Berean.” Joe received an email from the same lawyer, but JoAnna was not contacted.
However, they would later learn that this attorney is working for Pastor Feltner, not the church. if this is true, the lawyer should bow his head in shame.
Just a quick reminder about the defamation/libel laws in the US.
Let’s assume, for a second, that Feltner decides to attempt to proceed with legal action. He has a long road ahead of him with almost no chance of prevailing. Folks, defamation lawsuit are usually a waste of time, in my opinion.
- Feltner would have to prove that the women are lying and
- Feltner would have to prove that they knowingly lied in order to bring malicious harm to Feltner.
So long as the women believe what they are saying is true, I believe that Feltner ‘s quest would go down in flames just like almost every defamation attempt in the US,
I believe that the lawyers is doing what some lawyers do. He is attempting to scare two brave, honest, and decent women into believing that they will get sued. If it is true that a lawyer misrepresented himself by apparently claiming that he worked for Berean… well ,speak to a lawyer.
When JoAnna’s husband spoke with the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the elder board at the church, they replied that Berean used a law firm but were not aware of any affiliations with the attorney that had previously contacted Megan and Joe.
The victims have also notified other churches in which Feltner served.
Go to the bottom of the home page to see those contacts. However, the one that catches my eye is Berean Baptist Church. Yes, that’s right, Feltner’s current church. Did they do anything in the intervening 5 years? If they did, they kept it on the down low.
Does anyone know why Feltner wants to leave his highly successful church?
Around 2014: Berean Baptist Church, Burnsville, MN: Former Youth under Wes Feltner at First Southern Baptist Church spoke with the Executive Pastor at the time—it is unknown if any investigation was performed.
A disturbing video by Paul Batson, chair of the pastoral search committee at FBC Clarksville
In this video, he calls the women *adversaries.” Note to Batson: Really stupid historical story: Just because a 22 year old guy married a 16 year old girl 180 years ago, doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Remember, lots of Baptists supported owning slaves back then as well. Is this an example of the insight into sexual abuse by the current leadership at FBC Clarksville?
If this is the example of how this church views sexual abuse, then I would worry about the safety of students in their youth ministry.
In a statement to the Indy Star, Batson makes matters worse by appearing to claim that Feltner was in some sort of dating relationship with the women! From frying pan into fire…
Batson responded in a statement to The Leaf-Chronicle, saying in part: “The intent was not to downplay the events, or sins as we call them in church, except to say that they were in a dating context. … The important thing to know is that if there is any angst at this point in the process, point it at me, not at the church.”
Al Mohler released a statement, calling the charges credible and removing Feltner from his teaching responsibilities.
William Thornton wrote a post at SBC Voices: And now “credible accusations of misconduct” has currency in the SBC because of Al Mohler
Actions that involved SBTS were taken based on the “credible accusations of misconduct”. Neither Mohler nor any other SBC leader can direct any church to take action on the matter. It is significant that the SBC Executive Committee’s enhanced Credentials Committee now has the task to “make inquiries” of a church over their handling of an abuse accusation. The results of the inquiry would lead to a decision about the church being excluded from the national SBC.
Keep watching these actions of behalf of the SBC. I believe that these actions could one day possibly lead to a successful challenge of the autonomy of local churches from the SBC mothership.
For those of you who liked to read dissertations, here is link Feltner’s from 2009 which is available on the SBTS website.
Amy Smith pointed out this response by Berean Baptist on Twitter and wrote a post: The systemic epidemic of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention: Wes Feltner and passing the trash
Kudos to Tabernacle Baptist Church’s response.
Tabernacle Baptist Church is saddened by the reports of pastoral abuse that are being reported by multiple news outlets that involve a former Senior Pastor of our church. Wesley Feltner served as Senior Pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church from August 2008 to November 2013.
The hiring process of Pastor Feltner in 2008 included third-party criminal background checks and due diligence was used in exploring his moral character through given references with no improprieties being found. Also, our personnel team has no knowledge of any allegations brought against him during his tenure as pastor.The leadership of TBC takes abuse of any kind very seriously. We want to help those who have been involved in situations that are damaging physically, emotionally, or sexually. Because of this we have set up an internal hotline for members and attenders of TBC. This hotline will connect people with a female chaplain that can walk them through their situation and assist them to receive the help that they need.The leadership of TBC has asked our congregation to specifically pray for all individuals involved in this situation, including the two ladies named in the article, their families, the Feltner family, and both churches named in the article.
Have any of these churches reported these allegations to law enforcement?
Anna Keith at No Eden Elsewhere wrote a post about this situation She reviews the criminal statutes in Indiana where the two women were abused. Batson should be ashamed of himself. He never once mentioned the possibility of a crime…It’s all just sin and dating game…right?
Here is an updated list of the churches in which Wes Feltner served.
Finally, Feltner calls for resolution and demonstrates that he just doesn’t get it (or maybe he does which worries me more…)
Feltner advocated a Bible-based direct approach to resolving the issue.
“The Bible directs God’s people to take their grievances first to the person accused and, if that person won’t listen, to try again and bring a witness; and if the person still won’t listen, then to take it to the church (Matthew 18:15-17). The group circulating these allegations did not bring them to me, rather, they took them directly to the church and, not being satisfied with the church’s response, they have taken them to the general public.”
Feltner said he has reached out several times to meet with the women, including with a mediator if they wish, but they have declined.
“Meanwhile, not having spoken with me for 17 years, they have organized to destroy my reputation and my career,” he said.
“I remain willing and eager to fully and fairly address the concerns of the two women. I care deeply to resolve them and make any apologies and amends that are necessary anytime they are willing to talk.”
I believe the stories that the women told. There are virtually no abuse advocates who would advise victims to meet their abuser. Remember, sex abuse is not about sex. It is about exerting power over an individual.
It appears to me that Feltner is misusing the Bible in an attempt to get the women to meet with him. According to Matthew 18, the first step is to go directly to the person to confront him. Then, if it doesn’t work out, one brings more witnesses and then, eventually it gets brought to the church.,
Sadly, Matthew 18 is often used by abusive individuals to silence those they abuse. Of course he wants to meet quietly. If the accusations are to be believed, and I believe them, then this could be used to intimidate those who have already been harmed. Abuse is not a simple sin. Those who abuse often have deeply rooted, profound psychiatric disorders. They need professional intervention. Victims…do not be coerced into such an action by feeling guilty that this is some sort of Biblical mandate. It’s not to be applied in your situation.
He makes claims that these women have organized in order to destroy his reputation and career.” No, Feltner, you did that yourself. You moved on with your life and you now admit in this statement that you never reached out to them in 17 years! You are the one who should have done this. Feltner, you, and you alone, are. responsible for everything that has and everything that will come of this.” Many abusers like to blame others for their abusive behavior. Victims, don’t fall for it.
- Wes Feltner is toast. He needs to step down immediately. It’s all over.
- Both Berean Baptist and FBC Clarksville need to do some soul searching and get new leadership after they’ve apologized to the victims. What are they teaching in these churches?! Good night!
- All churches and institutions associated with Feltner need to consider reporting what they have learned to law enforcement. Let professionals sort this out. Do NOT do an internal investigation.
- The SBC has a long way to go if the responses of Berean Baptist and FBC Clarksville are any indication of the depths of the problem.
To Megan and JoAnna: I am so sorry for what you have endured. I believe you. Don’t let some lawyer and his client play a game with you. You are in the right since you have told the truth and they know it.
New updates will be posted here.
Wes Feltner will not be coming to =FBC Clarksville. Today, an apology was read from the pulpit. The pastoral search committee was disbanded and the deacons are now in charge. Questions: Did th search committee go rogue? Why is Paul Batson still around?
More to come.