Leaders of a Texas branch of the Southern Baptist Convention recently voted to withdraw fellowship from a San Antonio church pastored by a registered sex offender.
According to the Southern Baptist Texan, the executive committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention executive board declared New Spirit Baptist Church in San Antonio in violation of membership rules at a meeting April 22-23 in Galveston.
In March the executive board adopted a policy denying membership to any church with a senior pastor who has been convicted of the sexual abuse of a child. The vote came on the heels of a February report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News documenting 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers who faced allegations of sexual misconduct in the last 20 years.
Erbey Valdez, founding pastor of the bilingual New Spirit Baptist Church formed last October, received probation after pleading guilty to two second-degree felonies in 2010. At the time 37 and principal at a middle school, Valdez later wrote in a book that public shame of his arrest for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old high school senior was a catalyst for him to rededicate his life to ministry.
The Baptist newspaper said representatives of the state convention’s credentials committee met with the New Spirit Baptist Church. “The church chose to retain their pastor, who is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry,” the paper reported. “The board voted that due to the church’s position, it was in violation of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the doctrinal statement of the convention.”
In establishing its new sexual abuse policy, convention leaders cited the Baptist Faith and Message’s opposition to “all forms of sexual immorality.”
“Child sexual abuse is a form of sexual immorality that is clearly ungodly, morally corrupt and a sin against a holy God,” the policy says. “Although the Bible promises forgiveness through Christ … the consequence of our sin remains.”
According to archived online articles in the Standard-Times of San Angelo, Texas, Valdez was arrested in October 2009 on a charge of improper relationship between educator and student. In January 2010 a grand jury added a second charge of sexual performance by a child.
Valdez pleaded guilty to both counts in August 2010. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation for each count, with sentences running concurrently.
In a 2011 book titled Possible: Redefining the Possibilities for Your Life, Valdez recalled the period as a time “when God eventually decided, ‘It is time to refine you in the fire.’”
“Overnight, my wife and I not only lost our jobs, career, and life savings,” Valdez wrote. “For the first time in our lives, we lost all hope.”
Valdez entered the insurance business and opened a new company. In 2010 he and his wife launched Possible Marriage Ministries, listed as a ministry of the church on the New Spirit Baptist Church website.