Thursday, January 7, 2010

Emerywood Baptist in North Carolina

I got an email yesterday from senior pastor Bob Ferguson of Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina. He’s just learned that the website has links to news articles about a former Emerywood deacon named Guy Ellis Carr, Jr., who pled guilty last month on multiple child sex abuse charges. (That’s Carr in the photo.)

Pastor Ferguson goes on at some length, but I’ll just give you the highlights. He basically brags that his church “acted in a very appropriate manner,” and he wants me to “correct the information” on the site.

So . . . let’s review this case a bit. Maybe it deserves more attention than I initially gave it. The truth is that I can’t even get headlines posted for all the Baptist predator stories that cross my desk, and I sure as heck can’t blog about all of them. But now that pastor Ferguson has directed my attention to this one . . . .

The only stuff I previously posted about this case were links to 3 news articles: the High Point Enterprise and News-Record articles when Carr was charged, and the High Point Enterprise article when Carr pled guilty. But pastor Ferguson doesn’t like seeing even this bare-bones amount of information on the website because he doesn’t want to be “linked” to “those who would deny or sweep this under the rug.”

Uhhhh . . . here’s a wake-up call, pastor Ferguson: You already are “linked.”

Pastor Ferguson’s church shows itself as being affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, an organization whose highest leaders have publicly said that, among Baptist church officials, there have been only “several incidents”. . . or “a couple” . . . or at most, as one official proudly suggested, just “40 in 15 years” This constitutes institutional “denial” because, in reality, there have been hundreds and thousands of such cases, and that’s counting only those that get publicly reported in the media and through insurance data. That’s exactly why I post headlines like the ones that bothered pastor Ferguson, because if nothing else, they show how wrong Baptist leaders have been in so egregiously minimizing the extent of problem.

In his email to me, pastor Ferguson emphasizes that “these allegations did not occur on our property, did not occur while he was a deacon of our church or while he was attending any event of our church.”

Yeah. I got that. Pastor Ferguson made exactly the same point when he talked to the High Point Enterprise and said this: "None of these things happened anywhere near our church… our church is not directly involved.”

Now that he’s hammered on that same point in his email, I remember the dismay I felt when I first read that remark of his in the press. Guy Carr was a deacon -- a designated leader at Emerywood Baptist -- and yet the church’s senior pastor was making mealy-mouthed public remarks about how the events didn’t happen “anywhere near our church.” It was obvious the pastor was more concerned with protecting the church’s image than with reaching out to other possible victims.

And why in the world is pastor Ferguson still describing them as mere “allegations” in his email to me? The guy pled guilty.

At the time of Carr’s grand jury indictment, I also noticed how pastor Ferguson effectively cast doubt on the “allegations” by telling the press that “those charged with crimes must be proven guilty” and "we don't need to have a rush to judgment."

Yet, in yesterday’s email to me, he states that he realized “there was truth to these allegations” after talking with the victim, her mother, her aunt and a Carr co-worker. But even though he realized the “truth to these allegations,” pastor Ferguson also plainly states that, since it “happened 28 years ago, we took no formal action until his recent decision to plead guilty.”

And that’s what pastor Ferguson calls acting “in a very appropriate manner”???

Perhaps it would be more “appropriate” if, rather than making excuses about the fact that it “happened 28 years ago,” pastor Ferguson would instead concern himself with how many more kids may have been wounded during those intervening 28 years.

I thought I would retch when I saw the part in his email where he whined that the perpetrator had lied to him and said it wasn’t true “and staunchly maintained that lie.”

Uhhh . . . here’s another wake-up call, pastor Ferguson: Child molesters lie.

Then pastor Ferguson said: “When Mr. Carr pled guilty the entire arena changed. We now had admitted guilt upon which we could act.”

I consider pastor Ferguson’s excuse about the perpetrator’s lie to be just another illustration of why Baptistland is so dangerous for kids. If Baptist leaders won’t take action until a predator admits his guilt, then many more kids are going to be molested and raped. Experts will tell you that most child molesters admit guilt only when it will buy them a lighter sentence.

Finally, pastor Ferguson’s email seemed to suggest that there was only a singular victim. I doubt that.

As reported by the High Point Enterprise, the victim in the prosecuted case confronted deacon Carr and talked about wanting to find a way to forgive him.

His response to her was this: “Most people just get over it.”

Chilling, huh?

Who are the “most people” he’s talking about?

Despite pastor Ferguson’s insistence that nothing occurred at his church, maybe there were indeed other victims who were abused at Emerywood. How would pastor Ferguson know for sure one way or the other?

The High Point Enterprise reported that Carr grew up attending Emerywood Baptist, and then according to pastor Ferguson’s email, Carr moved to some other church in the same town, and then Carr went back to Emerywood and became a deacon there.

Whether at Emerywood or some other church, who are those “most people” -- the ones whom deacon Carr said “just get over it”?

Maybe they’re people who are still keeping quiet, in part, because they saw pastor Ferguson’s mealy-mouth remarks when Carr was first arrested.

On the church website, “Dr. Bob” (i.e., pastor Bob Ferguson) says that Emerywood has been described as a “thinking person’s church.”

Uhhh . . . I don’t think so. Not if pastor Ferguson’s remarks on the Carr case are any indication.

Incidentally, Emerywood shows itself as being affiliated with both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.


Lydia said...

And there is the problem. The pastor is more worried about his 'career' in ministry and public relations than truth or victims.

He only proves he is not qualified from a biblical standpoint.

William said...

Dang. I posted a long comment and it must have been goofed up.

I was asking what this pastor should have done. Looks to me like he was pretty much on target, save for using the term "allegations." I don't recall reading what actions he took in his church after the man was accused.

And I don't think any formal review board even if the SBC or CBF had them would have been involved here.

I would agree that this man should not be a deacon but do we dismiss such people from our churches?

Junkster said...

I would agree that this man should not be a deacon but do we dismiss such people from our churches?

If unrepentant, yes. And repentance doesn't mean someone who waits three decades till they get caught to admit they are wrong.

Anonymous said...

William, He had an unrepentant Deacon who was a child molester.

Can you say, where is the repentance? Why would this man even dare become a deacon? Gee, as long as he is not molesting kids at church all is well? I don't get you guys at all who are supposed to know the Word.

It is VERY RARE for there not to be more victims. The pastor could start there...instead he is more worried about his image. AS usual. And of course, other pastors affirm him in this. After all, ministry is now a career choice.

Lydia said...

If unrepentant, yes. And repentance doesn't mean someone who waits three decades till they get caught to admit they are wrong.

January 8, 2010 2:31 PM

Exactly. No one teaches about the indwelling Holy Spirit anymore.

Anonymous said...

He has a daughter the same age as the victim ... most likely there were others.