Abusive pastor plans a return to ministry in Memphis

An accused abusive pastor plans to start a new church in Memphis. We hope that Baptist officials denounce this move and that parishioners in Memphis choose not to attend this new church.

 

According to reports, pastor Andy Savage abused Jules Woodson when he was in his 20s and she was 17. At the time Savage worked as a youth group leader at Jule’s Texas church. Two decades later, Savage was a pastor at a Memphis mega-church called HighPoint. Last year, he resigned after confessing to what he called ‘a sexual incident.’ The incident that Savage confessed to would be considered a crime under Texas law

Despite this, Savage now intends to start a church of his own in Memphis. We think this is a dangerous move and hope that parents and the public will be warned about this new church and choose not to attendAt the same time, we also believe that Savage could be stopped if others with information or suspicions about his actions – in Texas or Tennessee – make reports to law enforcement, attorneys general, and other secular sources. It is especially important that current and former staffers and members at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in suburban Houston – the church where Savage abused Jules – speak up.

According to Religion News Service, “Watch Keep, a blog advocating for abuse survivors in the church, posted audio Saturday (Oct. 26) of Savage reportedly speaking at an interest meeting for a new congregation in Memphis called Grace Valley Church.” That audio can be found here.

In that recording, Savage severely minimizes the harm he’s done. This says to us that Savage has not realized the depth of his crime or the lifelong impact it can have.

Given this, it is critical that Baptist officials, especially in Tennessee, use their resources and pulpits to speak out against Savage. They have a duty to try to protect others from harm by doing all they can to alert vulnerable congregants to Savage’s past and encourage parishioners to worship elsewhere.

 

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009) 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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