Suffer the little children…
CALGARY – Officials at a Calgary church have admitted they were aware of an allegation of wrongdoing against an adult volunteer at his previous church but allowed him to continue working in youth programs under increased supervision for two years.
Police have charged the volunteer with sexually abusing three girls under the age of 14 at Centre Street Church.
According to a statement made by Brian Spiers of Westview Baptist Church during Sunday morning services, church staff investigated the allegations against the volunteer but found no corroborating evidence. As a result, the man was permitted to continue working in church programs.
“Unproven allegations are very difficult for a church to deal with,” said Dayle Medgett, senior pastor of Westview church, after the service.
Although officials declined to comment on the nature of the allegation or how they learned about it, they said the man worked for three years as a missions co-ordinator and parent volunteer in the youth program – but was never alone with children.
Medgett said upon learning of the allegation the church placed the volunteer under “increased accountability conditions.”
This happens to be going on in Calgary — but it could be anywhere. If it’s happened once, it’s happened a thousand times:
Person is in, “Ministry,” in a church, so many are creeped out by his actions, church does some sort of due dilligence via. police checks, nothing is found, person continues ministry/abusing until there is a huge blast radius, everyone pleads innocent claiming there was no proof and the lawyers pick over the remains.
Of course, for years I’ve spoken in one church after another addressing so many different areas of brokenness — and so many of them have responded with the same assumption, “It’s so good someone is helping the sexually broken — but we don’t have that problem here.” (Many times I’ve actually had a couple of their members in one program or another at that very instant…)
Problem is, few of those broken ones stayed in their churches. It’s not that they abandoned their faiths — but it is a departure from church. Not just that church — the institutional church in general. They have become part of the emerging or emergent church and their church is now a home group somewhere. And, the pollsters are very clear on this one: They are NOT coming back.
With their departure, the institutional church lost their first and last line of defense — a broken-and-now-healed-one who can move in on a clear and present danger like the above mentioned individual and bust them — hard. The old saying that it, “Takes one to know one,” has never been more accurate.
It’s kinda like the gun argument in the USA. (When you finally outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.) When we finally get the last broken-and-seeking-to-be-healed person out of your church, you will only have the predators remaining.
“But wait,” you say, “We never ran the broken out of our church.” Yes, you did.
When the Gospel of grace and freedom was exchanged for a gospel of rules, when ethics became the standard and control became the means, when you embraced some 12 step model of performance in place of the healing Christ has to offer, when fear and shame was allowed to sneak back into the one place on Earth Christ created to be free from it, when you allowed your 50yr veteran little-old-lady-babes-of-legalism-in-Christ to stand in condemnation of one broken heart (thus letting it stand as a warning to others), when you allowed some paranoid lawyer on your church board to tie the entire group up in a knot over the liability issues surrounding having a program of healing in your church, when you had the stunning arrogance to forget that your job was to introduce people to Jesus and then teach them to listen to His voice alone, you ran the broken out.
To Center Street’s rather significant credit, they seem to have had at least enough wounded healers remaining to eventually make it hot enough for the abuser in question — so he left. That’s remarkable for a church these days. Perhaps it was soon enough to keep the wolves from gathering.
In most other cases, the only hope is that lawyer…