Baptist pastor arrested for buying child pornography resigns

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A Baptist pastor in Florida has been arrested on charges of buying child pornography online, according to local law enforcement.

Jonathan Edward Elwing, the 43-year old former senior pastor of Palm View First Baptist Church in Palmetto, Florida, was charged with four counts of possession of child sexual abuse images, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. 

The Christian Post reached out to the church for comment on Elwing's charges but has not received a response. 

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Elwing was arrested by detectives in the sheriff's office's Internet Crimes Against Children division after receiving information that the pastor used cryptocurrency to purchase the images online, according to ABC 7

According to the sheriff's office, authorities conducted a search warrant on Friday at Elwing's home and church. Officers say they found four sexually explicit photos of children on Elwing's cellphone.

Before his arrest, Elwing resigned from his role as pastor. Palm View Baptist Church acknowledged Elwing's arrest on social media, saying it would "make a statement in due time."

Elwing is being held at the Manatee County Jail without bond.

Palm View Baptist Church, which describes itself as a "close-knit community and a loving family" and a "diverse group of people committed to following Jesus," is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The church met for the first time since the pastor's resignation after five years of service on Sunday. The congregation totals nearly 200 members, according to WWSB. Church leaders informed the church via a brief statement about Elwing's arrest and charges. 

"We'd had a pastor of 41 years that Jonathan replaced, and by all accounts, he was the guy, and he seemed to be doing a good job," Deacon Chair Larry Bianchi told the outlet. 

This is not the first time a pastor has been arrested for obtaining child pornography in Florida.

A Florida youth pastor in April 2023 was accused of using church wi-fi to access child pornography after a yearlong investigation by police spurred by an online tip.

Edward Wilds III of Palatka, Florida, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography and using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

He allegedly stayed behind after a Wednesday night service at the Palatka Baptist Temple around last spring and used the church's internet connection to download child sexual material, with tens of thousands of such images being found on devices associated with him throughout the investigation.

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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