Lead Pastor Ed Newton of Community Bible Church, which draws some 27,000 worshipers each week in San Antonio, Texas, said Sunday that he was “pissed” after learning that a youth ministry worker who has already been fired and reported to authorities, confessed to “inappropriate” behavior with multiple minor children.
In his third weekend message to the church on Sunday, Newton explained that the news of the former employee’s behavior is not something he wanted to share with the church but he believed he needed to be transparent to ensure that the victims would be heard.
“I was angry and disappointed and heartbroken when I received this news. I’m still angry, disappointed and heartbroken now, but to take it a step further, I’m going to go off my notes for just a second, I’m pissed. I’m absolutely pissed. And that would be an understatement,” Newton, who first began telling his church of the firing of the unidentified employee on Saturday.
In an abbreviated statement on the situation posted to the church’s website, Newton said the fired part-time employee, who was not named due to an ongoing police investigation, confessed to Executive Pastor Scott Kindig. Newton told the church that he was informed of the confession on Feb. 17.
“We believe that this was limited to less than 10 victims, but clearly, even one victim is too many. Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved in this tragedy. We immediately notified law enforcement authorities, and the detectives limited what we can say at this time due to their ongoing investigation,” Newton said.
“However, what I can share is that the acts involving all but one of the reported victims involved inappropriate electronic communication on electronic devices through social media platforms. One victim who was identified in the employee’s confession involved more than electronic communication. But whether it is inappropriate electronic communication or inappropriate physical contact, it is wrong and illegal and will not be tolerated at all!” Newton noted.
“Let there be no misunderstanding, this part-time employee was immediately fired from our staff upon learning of this information; this person has been issued a trespassing warrant, so as to prevent access onto our campus or attend any CBC related event."
While the fired employee was not named in the statement, both Newton and Kindig said the individual had gone through a thorough background check prior to being added to their team.
“The perpetrator has to remain nameless due to the ongoing investigation at this time. But, as I said, this person was a part-time employee. Prior to hiring this person, our church conducted a full background investigation, references were interviewed and numerous interviews of the potential employee were conducted. There was absolutely no reason to believe that this person posed a risk,” Newton said.
The pastor urged prayers for both the victims and the fired staff member and assured congregants that he will continue to be transparent about issues at the church – good or bad.
“Truth and transparency is something I believe in wholeheartedly on and off this stage … we don’t choose to operate in transparency by measuring potential fallout. We operate in transparency because every person in this church matters to us and me and you deserve honesty from this pulpit,” he said.
“Personally, I’ve shared the darkest parts of my soul from this stage. In light of my depression, my anxieties, my battles, my insecurities. I’ve shared our CBC financial struggles, our force reduction … I will not ever change my leadership style from this stage or off this stage, just because the news got bad,” he said to cheers and a standing ovation from some.
“If you’re standing for anything right now, you are standing for victims. They will be heard. They will have a voice. It will not be tolerated in this house."