Andrew Shiira, once the director of worship planning at Lake Shore Church, was getting ready to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on Saturday. A few months later in November, he was expected to move on to wedded bliss with his fiancée, but his life was upended Thursday when he was arrested on 10 counts of child pornography.
Shiira, whose father is president of the Hawaii Baptist Academy, was being held at the Orleans Parish Prison after his arrest, according to Baptist Press. Officials there told The Christian Post Friday morning that he was no longer in custody.
In a statement released on their website, the NOBTS said they were “made aware of criminal online sexual misconduct allegations against Andrew Shiira” and “were in complete cooperation with law enforcement.”
“We offered any assistance we might provide to complete the investigation. Currently, we have no evidence of any physical harm or sexual harassment pertaining to our campus population by Mr. Shiira,” the seminary said in their statement.
It further noted that Shiira was dismissed from the school where he previously worked but had resigned before he was criminally charged. A spokesperson told BP that the Master of Divinity degree he would have received on Saturday would no longer be conferred because he failed to meet the degree’s requirements.
The New Orleans Police Department could not immediately confirm details of the charges Friday, but NOBTS President James "Jamie" K. Dew said the seminary was shocked by the news.
“We are shocked and grieved to receive this news and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in this matter. Our counseling services are always available to assist any student, faculty, or staff members impacted by this shocking news and encourage anyone in need of counseling or other forms of assistance to let us know how we can help. We grieve and pray for those who are often overlooked as victims of online sexual crimes. We also pray for everyone who is negatively impacted by this situation,” Dew said.
An email cited by BP from Lakeshore Church stated that Shiira was not part of their pastoral staff and “had no contact with children or students at Lakeshore Church.”
His work with the church also ended on April 30, and they have “no evidence of any physical harm or sexual harassment pertaining to our church congregation by Mr. Shiira.”
“We take this matter very seriously,” Lakeshore Church elders said. “And will cooperate with appropriate parties throughout any further investigation or review.” Church leaders are expected to address the congregation further on Sunday.
“When Pastor James first approached me about planting a church in Honolulu, geared towards college students, I was both excited about the idea and confused that he would ask me,” Shiira said. “I’ve been part of a few church plants before but never in the actual planting and visioning phase. So it was a brand new experience for me, and I’m not going to lie, it was hard.”
When he started his Master of Divinity at NOBTS, Shiira said he felt God’s call toward collegiate, high school or pastoral ministry.
“You get out of seminary what you put in,” Shiira said. “You can come to class do your work and pass or you can come to class, do your work and dive deeper, ask questions, seek mentorship and advice and fully immerse yourself where you are, and come out equipped.”