Eleven months after the resignation of their longtime senior pastor Mike Baker over a sexual misconduct scandal involving his son, Caleb Baker, Eastview Christian Church in Illinois announced that they have hired Pastor Brandon Grant, a former staff member, to replace him.
The church revealed in a recent video announcement posted on YouTube that Grant was selected from a field of 40 candidates. He will be joined by his wife, Jamie, and their four children, Elyse, 13, Shepherd, 11, Hope, 9, and Connor, 7.
“We are so excited and humbled to be able to be named the next lead pastor of Eastview Christian Church,” said Grant in the announcement explaining that’s where he met his wife.
“Brandon opened the door for me the very first time I went to Fuel, which is the college ministry that he ended up leading for six years after we got married,” Jamie Grant explained.
The couple explained that in their time at Rise City Church, which has more than 1,200 members, they helped plant 13 other churches thanks to the generosity of their members.
“The people of Rise City are so generous we've been able to give millions of dollars away to different ministry endeavors and so it is bittersweet to say goodbye. But it's also so exciting for what's to come and moving back now from the West to the Midwest here to be the lead pastor of Eastview,” Grant said. “And we're really excited about that.”
Jamie Grant explained that even though their time at Rise City was a “sweet season,” she and her husband are excited to return to the megachurch because “we believe that God is doing some really sweet things here and we're excited to be a part of them.”
“It really is an honor and Eastview has been so much a part of our story and it's so many parts of so many stories of thousands of people for decades of ministry,” said Grant.
“To join in that is incredible but to be a part of the next chapter being written, we believe that God has just some incredible things that He wants to do in and through Eastview to draw us closer to His heartbeat, to draw us closer to one another in relationship and then, to just express our gifts and talents and things that God has given us to do in ministry in this community and beyond,” he added. “We believe that the best is yet to come both at Rise City as well as at Eastview Christian Church and so we cannot wait to be here.”
Rise City announced in an update that Grant will step down as their lead pastor effective March 31.
Last June, independent investigators for Eastview Christian Church concluded that former Senior Pastor Mike Baker likely used his position in the church to cover up his son, then-pastor Caleb, allegedly using his position in the church to "persuade women to engage in sexual activity."
The conclusions were made public in an 11-page report produced by attorneys from the law firm Wagenmaker & Oberly about three months after being hired by the church to investigate Caleb Baker's alleged sexual misconduct, the alleged cover-up and the impact of power dynamics upon staff and the congregation from Mike Baker and Eastview's upper-level leadership.
The investigators were also asked to assess Eastview's policies and make recommendations to provide guidance on improvements moving forward.
"While he worked for Eastview, leadership seemed largely unaware that Caleb used his position, role, or influence as a pastor to persuade women to engage in sexual activity. However, the individuals we were able to interview that had had sexual experiences with Caleb shared credibly that he did so," the investigators state.
The allegations that Mike Baker covered up his son's sexual misconduct erupted in February 2023 after Central Christian Church in Arizona announced Caleb Baker's firing after he was caught in an extramarital affair with another church staffer.
Six months after he resigned as senior pastor of Eastview Christian Church, Pastor Mike Baker launched the Song & Sword Church after his online ministry and began meeting at The Chateau Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington on Sept. 10, 2023.