Does it ever end?

As I was digging around Charisma magazine’s website, I found yet another possible clergy ethics scandal from August:

PASTOR PLANS TO RETURN TO PULPIT AFTER REHAB.

An Arlington, Texas, pastor is expected to return to the pulpit of his church after his June release from a second drug-treatment facility. Charged in March with drug possession and sexually assaulting three church members, Bishop Terry Hornbuckle was reinstated as pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship in April after a six-week suspension, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.

Terry HornbuckleSo, a “bishop” checks himself into a (second) drug rehab center in June and returns to his pulpit in August! After being charged with sexual assault, he is returned to the pulpit, presumably before enough time has passed for him to be found innocent of the charge!

A few years ago, in my hometown, there was a pastor arrested for drug trafficking–along with other members of his church. It’s nice to know that at least the police will put a man in jail for a crime even when the Church turns a blind eye.

Lord have mercy upon us all.

This article is part 5 of 14 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

4 Comments

  1. Hornbuckle has been frequently in the Dallas area news this year. His quick reinstatement is outrageous and scandalous.r nr nEvery form of church government has its problems (because there are PEOPLE in it). But if this isn't a case against independent churches, I don't know what is. If a pastor gets control of the local church by whatever means, goooood luck getting rid of him.

  2. Mark, you're certainly right that the Church is flawed because it has sinful people in it. I only wish we'd pay better attention to the work of God and be careful who we place in ministry.r nr nYou're also right about independent churches. The majority of independent churches I am familiar with are controlled by the pastor's ego and have no real accountability structures.

  3. Julie Brown

    I was reading your comments that the Bishop should be found innocent before he returned to preaching. I thought in America you are innocent until proven guilty. Maybe I missed something in school but I would hate for someone to accuse me of something and I have to stop my everyday life until after my trial. Are you saying that as a Bishop his life is different then mine and he should stop his life until he is found innocent since you are saying he is already guilty? What facts do you have…remember the principal that was accused of rape…lost his job and his public standing only to find out that the accuser said she was lying to get out of trouble herself? I could say you did horrible things…does that make it true? Are you saying every suspect in every crime is guilty…if so why do we have trials. You talk about Christianity…doesn't the bible say not to judge but let God be the judge…what facts do you have in this matter? How close are you to the situation to have the correct information that gives you the right to say that someone is guilty until proven innocent?

  4. Julie, I might turn your question upon your own head: Why do you presume me guilty of saying the “bishop” is guilty when I haven’t said so?

    My position is that these are serious charges (drug possession and sexual abuse).

    The pastor was arrested on drug possession charges and was admitted to a drug rehabilitation program; he failed a subsequent drug test and was arrested a second time, after which he voluntarily went back to a treatment program. This by itself is reason for counselling and guidance before he is returned to the pulpit; the souls of the parishioners are worth more than this!

    Whether he sexually abused someone, I don’t know. However, he has been charged with such a crime–not simply accused but charged by the police, presumably upon some alleged evidence. No, an arrest does not mean he is guilty. But, if he is, in fact, guilty, to have him continue in his position as pastor would allow him the opportunity to continue abusing parishioners. I believe it is reasonable–and good stewardship as well as good sense–to bar him from the pulpit temporarily until this legal accusation is either substantiated or dismissed. Sexual abuse–and he stands accused by three church members, not an isolated case–is a serious matter that requires special attention and care; sexual abuse is such an egregious violation that special care must be take to ensure that it does not continue.

    (For an example of how seriously I consider sexual abuse by clergy to be, you might see my suggested clergy sexual misconduct policy.)

    Nowhere does Scripture teach that those who are subject to church discipline are thereby exempt from secular discipline. My question is whether any church discipline has even been considered. The secular authorities seem to have been diligent so far in seeking justice; has the “bishop’s” church?

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