The Falls Church Anglican Found Out They Had an Abuser Named Jeff Taylor. They Didn’t Do Much. Parents and Pastors: Time to Wise Up!

TFCA: Wikipedia

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.


Here is the overview of what transpired. All of the information that I discussed was part of an investigation into the long-term sexual abuse and sexual grooming of young male teens at The Falls Church Anglican. This church is one of the nation’s historic churches. George Washington attended here, as did prominent politicians and business leaders. It is a wealthy church considered a prize property of the Anglican Church of North America. This church was Episcopal until it cut ties and joined ACNA. Many of you know that the ACNA has been embroiled in sexual abuse scandals. Hence, this church appears to fit in with the culture of the denomination, both in religious values and in the way they have poorly handled the sexual abuse scandal, as outlined in this report, which is also available on the home page of TCFA.

Overview of what happened since there is too much material and a mess.

I have had to deal with my emotional response to this report. The actions of Jeffrey T. Taylor, the abuser, mimicked those of Doug Goodrich, the abuser at my former Providence Baptist Church. While reading this report, there were many moments when I had to pause since it appeared I was reading what so many experienced at my former church. It was like I was reading a play-by-play description of how to abuse teen boys.

  • Jeff Taylor ran the youth program at TFCA from 1990 to 1999.
  • TFCA was delighted that the Cornerstone program had 500+ students attending.
  • It was primarily high school students, although Taylor made some inroads involving middle school boys.
  • He was married with four children. This was crucial in pulling the wool over the parents’ eyes.
  • He often focused on topics such as masturbation and sex, appealing, in my opinion, to the purity culture at that time. I guess parents and church leaders felt that such topics were of far more value than understanding the Gospel. (p.24)
  • He did not want adults around in his meetings. (p.37)
  • Taylor also stated that he was “spiritually gifted,” leading this outsider to point out that he may have displayed the narcissistic personality of an abuser. (p.38)
  • The report emphasized that many kids grew in their faith despite Taylor’s antics. Do they think this good outweighed the devastation of male teens’ lives?
  • I believe the pastor, John Yates, did not take it upon himself to find out what Taylor was teaching and how he behaved with boys. I guess he was so impressed with the numbers that he didn’t do what he should have been doing by watching him. Yates was stupid, naive, and way too impressed with numbers. Yes, he bears some of the blame for this.
  • The parents of these students were also to blame. Before anyone gets upset, I have a confession to make. I was also grateful to hand off my kids to high school programs and didn’t pay attention to what was happening. Only my son told me, “Doug is weird, and I don’t want to go to his studies.” That caused me to remove him from the monster in my church and set up a separate Bible study. I was blind to what was happening, and I was as stupid and naive as the parents at TCFA. The parents were so unconcerned that they took Taylor on family vacations. Imagine the access this afforded. (p.34)
  • Taylor went on to churches in Atlanta, where his son, Rev. Dr. Porter C. Taylor, now an Episcopal priest, has a Change.org petition demanding that the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta (Michael Youssef’s church) hire GRACE to investigate potential victims there. I am in awe that he would publicly and vulnerably stand up for victims.
  • He was dismissed from the Church of the Apostles due to inappropriate conversations with kids, and porn was found on his computer. (p.46)
  • Shortly after that, he was ordained, and Yates from TCFA spoke at his ordination! (p.48)
  • The report alleges that as Taylor went through TFCA, then onto the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta and Christ Church in Atlanta, he encountered and pastored hundreds of boys.
  • While at TFCA, Taylor engaged in this like massages, encouraging boys to give wedgies, touching thighs near the genitals, encouraging a thing called “nut-smacking” and wrestling. In one instance, he had the boys sit in their underwear in a circle for his teaching. I know what happened in my church when this behavior was encouraged. Oddly, the report called his “court” abuse. It appears that it is outright abuse and grooming them for more disgusting activities. (pp.27-29)
  • In 2007, one victim came out to Rev Yates. Although he notified Taylor’s current church, he did not name him at TFCA. He made vague mention that people who have been abused should come forward to talk about it. He did not mention Taylor to the congregation. He chose to keep him in the dark. Yates “felt” the victim was credible and paid for some counseling. (p.50)
  • In 2021, one family told Yates, now retired, that their son told him Taylor abused him. Sadly, the son died from alcohol abuse. Yates told the new pastor, but nothing was done. A life was destroyed, and no one did anything about this. The chancellor, apparently behaving quite badly, did not respond to requests from the family of the student who died. Dee won’t say what she thought about this. (p.58)
  • Nope-they never called the police because “they didn’t have to do so.” The local law gave them an out, saying one did not have to report the abuse of a child after he became an adult. My church used a similar law that said they were not “mandated” reporters. They didn’t get the police involved until the police themselves became involved. This reminds me of one lawyer from my previous church who reassured the church they didn’t have to report anything! She seemed pleased by this finding.
  • In 2023, parents complained to the Bishop of the Diocese, who recommended that a study be performed.
  • Yates was involved in another sexual abuse scandal (?coverup) when he dismissed Bruce Newell. No one apparently knows why. (p.59)
  • And in a “can’t make this up” moment, Taylor got a congressional staffer who volunteered removed due to some incident involving a student. I guess he didn’t want another person moving in on his territory. (p.60)
  • This was a concerning  comment from a member of the church’s Executive Committee who asked if it was helpful to” dredge this up.” (apparently  referring to the sex abuse.) This guy was an elder type of person saying something this stupid when this investigation was ongoing. That speaks volumes to me of the kind of men in charge of this church. (p.57)
  • The conclusion: No one knew this was going on. (p.67)

Who did the report?

This was no GRACE sort of investigation. The header of the report states

Report on theIndependent Investigation of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by a Staff Member of The Falls Church between May 1990 and January 2002
Edward Lee Isler
ISLER DARE, P.C.

I received this information from an insider.

The chancellor for TFCA is Scott Ward, who is also the chancellor for the diocese and for the province. Professionally, he is a principal at Gammon and Grange, which specializes in defending churches.

What might this say to an interested outsider such as myself?

This report was structured so that the church was “off the hook,” That is how I read some of the investigator’s comments.

Here is what I believe was the actual conclusion for Pastor Yates, the subsequent Pastor Ferguson, the leaders, and the parents:

  • All were naive.
  • The pastors and leaders were deliberately stupid and held their hands over their eyes and ears while singing “la, la, la” to avoid receiving anything awkward,
  • Failing to supervise a staffer who had access to minor children for years was a dereliction of duty.
  • The leaders and pastors were derelict in their duty to report this to law enforcement because it was the right thing to do. The police would have had reports on file if more accusations came up in the future, as they did for Taylor. This is how the system works. I routinely advise families and churches to do this as a minimum.
  • When parents learned that adults were not welcome in the Cornerstone activities, they should have immediately demanded to attend to see what was happening. I do not recommend that parents dump their kids off for talks that the parents aren’t supposed to hear. Remember, I blame myself in this category.
  • The leaders should have held Yates’ feet to the fire when they realized supervision was lacking. Oh, they didn’t know that? They should have. Where were the church leaders?
  • I must admit that I find it problematic that no one knew anything about what was happening. Indeed, they heard of the discussions on masturbation. Didn’t anyone realize that this was weird, or were they so into the purity movement that they thought this was normal and advisable?
  • Every church and organization that had Taylor involved must conduct a real investigation, not one “to protect the church.” It’s time the church started acting like the church by doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.
  • Everyone should support Rev. Dr. Porter Taylor’s petition. Involved churches should contact him to get his thoughts on protecting their kids.
  • Parents: abusers are clever, and they will worm their way into your hearts. It happened at my church. When Goodrich was being tried, some deceived moms begged the judge to let them “mentor Goodrich.” They loved the guy, and he had them right where he wanted them. Protect your students. Supervise them and be careful when someone starts paying lots of attention to them. Red flags should be waving.
  • My heart goes out to the victims. One victim died, most likely because he was abused. This happens to victims of abuse. If any victim wants to tell their story, please get in touch with me at dee@thewartburgwatch.com. I would be happy to print it.

Comments

The Falls Church Anglican Found Out They Had an Abuser Named Jeff Taylor. They Didn’t Do Much. Parents and Pastors: Time to Wise Up! — 32 Comments

  1. As a person connected to this history I would like to say:

    You can have an infinite number of policies in place and churches can lawyer up with their “chancellors” to follow the letter of the law in terms of their “legal obligations” related to reporting abuse but if the church culture itself hides, ignores, and keeps abuse hidden to protect the system and institution…then abuse will continue to thrive like a cancer. This should serve as a serious wake up call not just to The Falls Church Anglican but to all churches and institutions.

    I would be careful in your admonishment of parents. There is no need to inflict addition pain. Abusers groom church leadership as well as parents of children. There is alot of pain for family members who feel shame for not having recognized the red flags. Beyond Jeff Taylor’s own burden of responsibility, I also place a significant burden of responsibility on John Yates who had more pieces of the puzzle than parents. More will be revealed on that in the coming weeks but he heard and knew things that should have painted a picture for him but he was incapable of admitting to himself that this leader whom he had mentored, encouraged and invested in was capable of such destructive behavior. For this he should be held accountable. Over 15 years he kept silent and did not inform his congregation.

    Crisis is a true revealer of character.

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  2. In Solidarity with Survivors: I would be careful in your admonishment of parents. There is no need to inflict addition pain. Abusers groom church leadership as well as parents of children. There is alot of pain for family members who feel shame for not having recognized the red flags.

    I have to disagree with you on this one. Due to the horrific abuse at my former SBC church, I had to realize that I was not doing due diligence when it came to my son’s involvement in his youth group. I only have told other parents what I had to learn myself. I was naive and ill-informed. I let my churches manipulate me into thinking that they had all bases covered. If I had spent as much time investigating problems in youth groups as I did shopping on Amazon, I would have been a wiser and safer parent. In other words, I have condemned myself as I have called out my parents.

    I do not doubt that more will be coming out on this matter. I would be gobsmacked if no one in TCFA had an inkling of what was happening and chose to ignore it for many reasons.

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  3. Good Lord, it seems that there is a ministry bad-boy-of-the-day (at least) reported in the blogosphere! The institutional church is becoming a scary place for children.

    America’s churchgoers are caught in a tension between two passages of Scripture:

    “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”

    vs.

    “Come out from her and be not a partaker of her sins”

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  4. There are a lot of us who aren’t saying what we think about the Chancellor’s lack of response to grieving parents.

    When I was on staff at an ACNA church, I specifically asked about child protection policies because of my own training and experiences. I was informed that volunteers and leaders were ‘supposed to’ complete a yearly training, but no one was overseeing that. It was my job… They didn’t have any kind of coherent policy until a few years later.

    I only had one leader who refused to comply with the training – that person was in the ordination process which also required the training. I guess no one in authority checked such things.

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  5. The so-called “purity” trope is a fashionable cloak that is allowed by the upper classes in order to shame their inferiors and confuse the young. Beware any “authority” that talks to boys and girls about sex.

    And beware all the many and usual “authorities” which carve up society rigidly into mutually untouchable castes / sectors such as age cohorts.

    John Cruddas MP has commented that morality (the underpinning of morale) got outsourced to “the market”. Saints Peter and Paul attended market places, which were places, and not themselves the substitute for value.

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  6. All I can say is that I’m not surprised.

    The Falls Church fought tooth and nail with TEC over church property when it decided to become affiliated with the Nigerian bishops who were ordaining ACNA clergy. At the same time, TFC became the church of choice for many high-ranking members of W’s administration. In fact, they boasted about it. (I knew an aide to a csbinet member who became involved there.)

    TFC also had an ex-gay ministry in its overall mission. Although it was a now-dissolved parachurch organization, it was under TFC’s umbrella. The congregation and clergy made muchh of its non-affirming stance.

    Anfd now the chickens have come home to roost.

    Funny thing: i almost started attending there after being booted from a DC evangelical church, but for whatever reason, i kept putting it off.

    Glad i did.

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  7. numo,

    Also, TCFA is *not* the same congregation as The Falls Church Episcopal. The Falls Church Episcopal is where Washington and others were members. The original building dates to 1769. There are bullet holes in its 9uter walls from skirmishes that took place during the Civil War. The original building is quite small – TFCE built a huge addition back in the 1990s.

    See here for more details –

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Falls_Church

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  8. I was a member at TFC when it was under the Episcopal umbrella in the 1990s. I have personal knowledge of a family whose young daughter (5 or 6 years old at the time) was sexually abused by a teenage male babysitter (he was 14 or so) who was also a member of the church. The position of John Yates was that the parents should not file a complaint with the police, as that would “ruin the boy’s life.” (Not a direct quote, but the sentiment that was conveyed. The patriarchy is strong.)
    Obviously there are complicating factors when the perpetrator is also a minor (could he have been acting out if he was under Taylor’s tutelage? I don’t remember if Taylor was there at the time or not…), but there are too many examples in too many churches/parachurch organizations where the impulse is to protect the abuser.

    (I was also there when Bruce Newell was quietly asked to leave, following allegations of sexual abuse by several women who had gone to him for counseling in his pastoral capacity. That became much more public when one of the women sued, and he was eventually defrocked. If she hadn’t sued the church, then it would likely have remained under wraps.)

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