H/T: SpiritualSoundingBoard.com – Julie A
Church leaders revictimize abuse victims when they fail to respond appropriately to abuse. Theology can be used to minimize the sin of perpetrators and sometimes blames abuse victims.
I’ve been following the story of Pastor Steve Wingfield at First Christian Church of Florissant and was notified that the largest paper in St. Louis published a follow-up article, The battle for First Christian Church of Florissant. It is important for people to see the likely fallout when church leaders fail to be true shepherds. As a result, First Christian Church of Florissant is dwindling in numbers as the remaining members try to make sense of the mess created by their church leaders.
The story involves a former youth minister, Brandon Milburn, who is now serving 25 years in prison for sexual crimes against minor boys and how Pastor Wingfield failed to report and respond appropriately when members brought the sexual abuse allegations to his attention.
In April, Pastor Wingfield filed a defamation lawsuit against several members who spoke out against him publicly on social media. Wingfield later dropped the lawsuit claiming he wanted to handle it via mediation. I reached out to one of the former members who said that there has been very little mediation, but “more consulting on how to move past this.” Here’s my interpretation: the negative publicity regarding the lawsuit, Plan A, did not yield the desired results and so Wingfield has gone on to Plan B to redefine their new and improved image (because we know it’s all about the image of the church over helping the abused and defenseless, right?).
Dawn Varvil, one of the defendants in the rescinded lawsuit, discussed the hardships sexual abuse victims have faced while the church leaders turned their backs on them in order to save face. Now, let’s look more closely at the motives behind those mean horrible trouble-making members who had the audacity to call out their pastor publicly:
Members also say the church has neglected to provide victims with any substantial relief, either in the form of paying for counseling, or in the case of at least one family, simply reaching out to inquire how it might be able to help. Varvil also says she knows of others victimized by Milburn who have yet to come forward. (Source)
It’s apparent to see that these members who publicly called out Pastor Steve Wingfield are concerned about the emotional and spiritual well-being of those who have been harmed by leaders within the church, a place that is supposed to be a refuge and a place that shares the love of Christ, defending the oppressed and abused.
Read the rest of the story …
Julie Anne has been through this kind of problem since 2012 and won her defamation lawsuit. Her “About” page is interesting and worth a read.