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First Baptist HammondFirst Baptist Church Hammond voted to accept John Wilkerson as its new pastor Sunday evening.

Wilkerson follows Jack Schaap, who left First Baptist Hammond last year after admitting to having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl and transporting her across state lines to have sex with her (a federal offense).  Schaap is currently awaiting sentencing. According to news reports: Wilkerson graduated from Hyles-Anderson in 1989 and taught at the church’s City Baptist Schools for a year before moving to California to teach at a Baptist school in Long Beach. He became principal of Calvary Christian School in Baton Rouge, La. in 1993 and returned to California in 2000 to become the pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach. During Wilkerson’s tenure as pastor, the Sunday school program at First Baptist Church of Long Beach has grown in attendance from 849 to more than 1,700. The Wilkersons are parents to nine children. In August 2008, the couple’s 17-year-old son, Tyler, was killed in a car accident. The Sunday after his son’s death, Wilkerson presented a sermon entitled, “God Makes No Mistakes,” according to the First Baptist Church Web site. Wilkerson will begin at First Baptist Hammond on February 17. // Read more here…

According to First Baptist Church of Hammond officials announced Monday they are considering a new minister to lead the congregation. John Wilkerson, who has been the pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach, Calif., since June 4, 2000, will speak to the Hammond congregation Wednesday. The church is expected to vote on Wilkerson on Sunday, according to a church news release. If approved, Wilkerson will replace Jack Schaap, the church’s fired former head pastor. Schaap pleaded guilty Sept. 26 to having sex with a 16-year-old girl. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15. // Read more here…  Wilkerson is a Hyles-Anderson graduate.
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Pastor Jack Schaap, the former pastor at First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN is asking the court to give him some leniency in his upcoming sentencing.  Schaap has pleaded guilty to have a sexual relationship with an under-age girl, and taking her across state lines.  His minimum sentence is supposed to be ten years. Hear the reasons why Schaap gives for this crime (and sin): MB_Jack-Schaap Watch this video now…  

The way people dress, how they connect, and what language they speak might change the appearance of the church 15 years from now—but truth is eternal one pastor said in a panel discussion at the Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 13 in Orlando. “Truth will never go out of style,” Jeremy Gates, pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Titusville said in response to a question by panel host David Uth, FBSC president and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando. “People see authenticity. Truth is truth and Jesus will honor the truth. He said, ‘If you raise me up, I will be exalted.’” Uth convened a panel of Florida Baptist pastors “from the north and from the south” to answer questions about challenges their churches are facing and what they expect the church will look like in 15 years. Members of the panel included Gates; Jimmy Scroggins, First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach; William Rice, Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater; Dean Inserra, City Church, Tallahassee; and Otto Fernandez, Riverside Baptist Church, Miami. “At the end of the day, people see through all of the programming, through all of the fluff, they just want to see that you are speaking truthfully to them,” Gates said about the importance of addressing current issues—such as homosexuality, fornication and adultery—with biblical truth. Truth, along with intentionally building relationships—like Jesus did in His ministry—are two things that will insure the church’s survival because they “never go out of style,” Gates said. Rice agreed relationships are important in church life. He noted a “paradigm shift” indicating a move away from an “institutional structure” towards relationships. There’s not much about the church that will change in 15 years, however, he said. “I still think worship will be huge as a front door to the church for people to hear and view the Gospel for themselves,” Rice said. // Read more via Pastors’ panel anticipates church 15 years in future What do YOU think will be the biggest changes in church life in the next 15 years?
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This from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Last Sunday, the Rev. Travis Smith paced First Baptist Church’s sanctuary, decorated for the holidays with poinsettias and a Christmas tree. He addressed his congregation, speaking to them about forgiveness. Smith read verses from the Gospel of Matthew that follow the Lord’s Prayer: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” he said. Since Smith’s arrest in October on sexual abuse and statutory rape charges, which follow similar allegations from 2010, forgiveness from his congregation has become critical to his survival as its pastor. It is this group of about 100 souls who will decide Smith’s future in the Southern Baptist Convention. In any denomination, Christians confronted with the shocking news that their often-beloved pastor has been accused of sexual misconduct, many congregations circle the wagons, some experts say. “When a church rallies around its pastor, there’s disbelief that someone they trust could do something like this,” said Diana Garland, dean of the school of social work at Baylor University. “It often feels so much safer to blame the victims for causing his downfall, rather than accept that the power of a religious leader has been abused.” But what happens when those circling the wagons around their pastor are also those who have to make the ultimate decision about his fate — his career, his paycheck, his reputation? A deacon at First Baptist Church of Stover said that at its last monthly business meeting no one from the congregation even put forward a motion to dismiss Smith, the first step in a longer process to remove the pastor. “These are old charges, and if they’re true, why weren’t they brought up when they occurred?” said Phil Marriott. “We’ll wait for the court system to address them and let justice take its course.”
I’ve seen this happen many times.  When confronted with charges against a pastor, some churches are just not in a place to accept, or at the very least, investigate the charges.
That leads to the ‘circling of the wagons’ effect the writer describes.
It’s a tough situation.  On one side, ANYONE can make an accusation (and scripture even puts it down that if it is an elder, there really needs to be more than one accuser to help substantiate claims).  But at the same time, these allegations are very serious, and need to be investigated.  Rape, for instance, is a pretty stinkin’ serious charge; and to circle the wagon and not even discuss the situation is horrible.
If you were on the board at this church, how would you respond right now to this situation?
Leave a comment below and tell me what YOU think…