Yes Andy Savage is only five years older than Jules Woodson but he was in a position of power emotionally and spiritually over her. He was her youth pastor. Instead of driving her home, he drove her to a secluded spot, took his pants down and told her to perform oral sex on him, although not in such a clinical manner. The 17 year old says she thought he must love her if he wanted to be this intimate with her and she went along. She also went along when he started molesting her as she performed. At some point he ran out of the car, fell on his knees and was begging her to take this to "her grave." Now, maybe this speaks to why a 22 year old should not be in a pastoral position of power. The bible speaks about qualifications and says the person should not be new in the Lord. That aside, the system stepped in at that point with one focus -- protect Andy Savage. After Jules broke her silence with her youth group, the church powers realized they had a major problem on their hands if Jules kept talking so they shipped Andy out of the church and allowed him to just say something vague, like he had made mistakes and needed to move on. This left Jules of course to have to deal with this for the rest of her life. Savage went on to be a leader at Highpoint Church until he stepped down in 2018 because of the covered up incident coming to light and said amongst other thing:
'"When Jules cried out for justice, I carelessly turned the topic to my own story of moral change, as if getting my own life in order should help to make up for what she went through and continues to go through," said Savage, who acknowledged for the first time that he took advantage of Woodson without her consent in what he called an "abuse of power." "I agree with Jules that, of all places, we as the Church should be getting this right," Savage said, adding: "After much prayer and counsel, I now believe it's appropriate for me to resign from my staff position at Highpoint Church and step away from ministry in order to do everything I can to right the wrongs of the past."' -- Andy Savage
Sounds so right but now just 18 months later, he is opening his own church? Is this right? Absolutely not! Look, if the truth was told 20 years ago and he spent that time as a penitent believer you could make an argument for a return to ministry but 18 months after being forced to admit what you did? I do not wish Andy Savage any ill. I had never even heard of him until this story. My hope however is in the restoration of his walk with the Lord, not his return to ministry. I stand with the sheep. I stand with the victim.
'Watch Keep, a blog advocating for abuse survivors in the church, posted audio Saturday (Oct. 26) of Savage reportedly speaking at an interest meeting for a new congregation in Memphis called Grace Valley Church. The website, gracevalleymemphis.org, links to a Google form that asks those who visit the site for their names, contact information and information about spouses or children. It also offers opportunities to volunteer or submit prayer requests. That form includes a note saying it was "created within andysavage.com," which is the former pastor's personal website. Savage could not be reached for comment. On the audio, a voice reportedly belonging to Savage says if that if he ever were to return to ministry, he wouldn't do what he did before: ignore people's struggles. He then delivers a message about how God's "grace flows down" into valleys and Christians ought not judge others. "I got my hands on the wrong things in my life for all the right reasons--looking for hope, looking for fulfillment, looking for a way to make my life better, trying to stay out of the valley," he said. "That's what we do. It's just the human condition, which is why we don't have to judge others."' -- Charisma News
God's grace does indeed flow to the lowest valley but not for ministerial reconciliation. This is what the church keeps getting wrong in this area. We are commanded to judge! Cast out the wicked person from among you! If they repent, we of course forgive as God forgave us and restore them to the fold but that does not mean they get to pastor a church! Elders will be judged with a harsher standard than others. The requirements are steep for a reason. I am sorry but you speak at an event to start a new congregation and preach about how we do not need to judge each other? I am not getting the sense that anything has been learned, let alone repented of.
"Woodson identified the voice as Savage's, according to The Commercial Appeal. The Memphis newspaper also reported the former pastor "had filed nonprofit information for Grace Valley Church with the state earlier this month." That news prompted heated discussion on social media. Some on Twitter contrasted reports of Savage's possible return to the pulpit with a viral video of a prominent evangelical pastor criticizing popular Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore and other women speakers, claiming the Bible bars them from the pulpit. "Pastors, where are you?" tweeted Rachael Denhollander, a leading advocate for abuse survivors in the Southern Baptist Church. "You who preach the requirements for pastors, where are you now? You who teach that if only women would submit and men lead, abuse would be solved, where are you? You who laughed at a female teacher being told 'go home', where are you? Where are you now?" Moore herself, who has spoken about her own childhood sexual abuse, responded to Woodson's tweet with sympathy. "Jules, I can't imagine how devastating that must be. I am so sorry," she said." -- Charisma News
This is the end result of not doing what the bible commands. For weeks now we have heard the correct cries of go home for someone as false as Beth Moore but Denhollander and Moore are correct here in their disdain for these same people not standing up for the same principle when it comes to someone in the good old boys network. Beth Moore is clearly not permitted to serve in a pastoral role but you have no moral authority to say that if you think Andy Savage is.
"Others on Twitter urged Woodson to forgive Savage. Boz Tchividjian tweeted that is a pattern abusive church leaders often follow. Tchividjian is executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). "A common tactic of church leaders who have used their power and authority to sexually victimize is to place themselves back into positions of leadership while piously gaslighting and guilting those who object by accusing them of being unforgiving, unmerciful, & un-Christian," he said in a brief thread on social media. "Such dark tactics must be exposed over and over again until they are seen for what they are ... the protecting and empowering of offenders and the attempted silencing of truth." Wade Mullen, an advocate and researcher who has studied abusive situations in evangelical settings, said Savage's statements "absolutely" raise red flags for him. In the past, Savage has minimized the abuse by referring to it instead as an "incident," Mullen told RNS. The former pastor also has emphasized it happened two decades ago, creating distance between the abuse and what he is doing now, Mullen said. In the most recent audio recording, Mullen said, Savage never names what he did and continues to downplay its gravity, simply suggesting people Google him. "In my opinion, he's still engaging in deception. Until he's willing to speak the truth, until he's willing to name what it is accurately, then he shouldn't be trusted. The deception will continue," Mullen said." -- Charisma News