Embattled Megachurch Pastor Resigns After Botching Child Abuse Allegations

Embattled megachurch pastor Steven Smith will resign as senior leader of Immanuel Baptist Church following months of controversy and tension at how he handled a child abuse case in his church.

Smith was under fire for learning of sexual abuse allegations against former Children’s Director Patrick Stephen, some of which were made before he became pastor and others which were made after. While the church notified law enforcement and the state’s abuse hotline, they did not disclose it to congregation members, including parents whose children attended Stephen’s classes. Stephen was charged with felony sexual assault for molesting children while they played ‘hide-and-seek’ but ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment.

Smith became the lead pastor of Immanuel in 2017 and formerly searved as Vice President for Student Services and Professor of Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Under pressure from angry congregants and fellow leaders, he survived a no-conflict motion on February 26-18. However, over a dozen deacons abstained, signaling he had the support of less than half of them.

Smith indicated in early March that he intended to weather the controversy but has since lost hope in a path forward amid dwindling attendance and continued discord, naming April 7th as his last day. He told congregants in a letter:

“Every family experiences tension, and our church family tension has been very real and very public in recent months. To feel this tension as we walk through the halls and as we worship together has been disheartening. Unfortunately, at present we do not see this abating, but only increasing…We are not stepping into another ministry, but stepping aside to allow this process of healing to begin.”

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1 thought on “Embattled Megachurch Pastor Resigns After Botching Child Abuse Allegations

  1. Sin in the camp ALWAYS destroys the camp. And the cover up of sexual sin is sin itself. The Bible clearly says that sin within the body is to be brought before the congregation, not covered up. That pastor was playing politics, not following biblical mandates. Throw him out…he is a participant in putting kids at risk. He is disgusting!

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