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Report: Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Mishandled Intercourse Abuse Claims

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On Monday, The New York Instances printed a prolonged piece on how The Village Church and its senior pastor, Matt Chandler, dealt with an occasion of sexual abuse by its affiliate kids’s pastor.

The story raised but extra considerations about how church buildings deal with victims of their midst, and what processes are and needs to be in place for navigating the sexual abuse disaster rocking the Southern Baptist Conference. [h/t New York Instances]

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In 2018, Christi Bragg and her husband advised The Village Church that their daughter had been sexually abused on the church’s summer time camp when she was 11 years outdated. Later, the church’s affiliate kids’s minister Matthew Tonne was arrested for the crime.

Whereas the Village Church did report what occurred to the authorities and terminated Tonne’s employment, the Bragg household nonetheless left the church over what they felt was painful therapy on the a part of the Village management staff. Bragg stated her household wished acknowledgment, an apology, an evidence and even only a dialog with Chandler over what occurred, however have but to obtain any of it. In line with The New York Instances, Bragg feels that the church’s “intuition to guard the establishment outweighed their look after her daughter or their curiosity in investigating the reality.”

When Bragg’s daughter first advised her dad and mom about what had occurred at camp, about six years after the precise incident, Bragg promptly contacted the police and The Village Church. Church leaders had been initially fast to behave, submitting their very own police report and promising to satisfy with the household. However after that, the Braggs say their makes an attempt to observe up weren’t returned, they usually needed to name once more to request a gathering — one which the church lastly scheduled three months after the Braggs’ first report. The assembly itself was unfruitful, and not one of the church’s high three pastors had been in attendance.

Later, the church introduced that Tonne was taking a while away for “private” causes, and inspired the congregation to ship him considerate notes and messages. After his employment was formally terminated, the church blamed an “alcohol abuse downside.” In line with the NYT, Bragg “didn’t perceive any of it — the rationale given; why Mr. Tonne’s preferences had been thought-about, however not hers; why he obtained notes, however her household didn’t.” Later, Chandler introduced to the church {that a} minor was sexually assaulted at a camp, however didn’t identify the abuser. Tonne’s lawyer says his shopper has been falsely accused.

The Village Church declined to be interviewed by The New York Instances, however launched a press release saying they’d cleared all their exterior messaging with the Bragg household “in an effort for honesty, transparency and to keep away from any embarrassment or concern.”

After which there’s the matter of MinistrySafe, a well-liked group that many church buildings, together with The Village Church, work with to offer coaching and intercourse abuse prevention ideas. Bragg was advised that MinistrySafe was consulting the church on her case, however when she requested if she may communicate with somebody at MinistrySafe, she was advised that may be a “battle of curiosity.” That’s as a result of MinistrySafe is run by attorneys, who assist decrease their shoppers’ danger in conditions like this. It founder, Kimberlee Norris advised the NYT “my job is to organize ministries. I’m a lawyer, not a counselor.”

Bragg and her household left the church following one other assembly during which no pastors had been current. She wrote a letter explaining the household’s determination to her campus pastor, saying “What we encountered Wednesday was a church that has made a acutely aware selection to guard itself fairly than mirror the Jesus it claims to observe.”

The Village Church adopted correct authorized protocol — one thing that has eluded many different SBC church buildings in related conditions. And having a authorized staff helpful to navigate issues like allegations of abuse is comprehensible. However the Braggs appear damage and bewildered by what they understand as an absence of communication they acquired from their church leaders.

You may learn the entire report right here.

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