By Bob Allen
An Alabama Baptist pastor says Southern Baptists should be concerned about a new magazine expose alleging child sex abuse and cover-up in a church formerly led by a pastor with close ties to the denomination’s leaders.
Rick Patrick, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Ala., described a story in the February issue of the Washingtonian titled the “The Fall of a Mega Church” as “heartbreaking” in a comment on SBC Today, a blog he publishes in his capacity as executive director of Connect316, a group of pastors formed to counter the growing influence of Calvinism in the nation’s second-largest faith group.
SBC Today reprinted a blog by Brent Detwiler, a one-time colleague of Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney who for the past three years worked with victims, child abuse experts, lawyers and law enforcement in pursuit of a book detailing what media have called the largest evangelical sexual abuse scandal to date.
Apart from cover-up allegations detained by Detwiler, Patrick said for Southern Baptists there is a separate concern: “namely, that we have been forming an ever closer alliance with Sovereign Grace Ministries and C. J. Mahaney over the past several years.”
The Wartburg Watch, another blog that monitors SBC issues, reported last September that Mahaney’s current church, Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Ky., had recently affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville added a sentence to its “about us” webpage noting that in addition to association with Sovereign Grace Ministries it “also partners with the Southern Baptist Convention for the purposes of training and gospel mission.”
The SBC church search database introduces Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville as “a new church of ordinary people who have been transformed by an extraordinary gospel.”
“Thus, the students in his school can enroll at Southern Seminary and take full advantage of the Cooperative Program discount,” Patrick observed.
“Perhaps I am missing some pertinent piece of information here, but it would seem more appropriate for Southern Baptists to be distancing ourselves from Mahaney and SGM rather than joining hands in joint ministry ventures,” he said.