Pastor Micahn Carter, who had been undergoing “ministerial restoration” at Alabama’s largest megachurch, has resigned following a rape allegation by an assistant at his former congregation.
Micahn Carter Resigns
In a statement last week, Birmingham-based The Church of the Highlands announced:
In 2019, Micahn Carter’s Pastoral Overseers from Washington state asked Church of the Highlands to assist them in directing a ministerial restoration process for him. Highlands agreed to do so, and since then we have been working with Micahn and his family. Recently, Highlands received correspondence raising new allegations about events that occurred over two years ago in Washington state. When we shared this information with the Carters, they resigned from their positions on staff to work through these issues themselves. Highlands is no longer involved in the restoration process.
The “new allegations” are from Mary Jones, who had served as Carter’s assistant at Together Church in Yakima, Washington. On July 21, she came forward by detailing sexual abuse accusations against her former boss. Her blog post is now making the rounds on the internet.
Meanwhile, Church of the Highlands emailed staff, requesting that they “please do not feel the need to engage in the online conversation” about Carter’s resignation.
Congregants Weren’t Told of Micahn Carter’s Background
When The Church of the Highlands founder and pastor Chris Hodges introduced Micahn Carter to members in July 2020, he indicated that Carter had “pastored previously” but didn’t offer details. Hodges added that Carter had “actually been on our team for more than 13 months,” which meant he had switched congregations swiftly. Carter left Together Church in April 2019 for undisclosed reasons.
In a July 21 blog post titled “Moving Forward,” Mary Jones describes working at Together Church “as Assistant to the Lead Pastor and his wife, who served as Executive Pastor.” She initially viewed the staff members as “superheroes” and the pastors as parent-figures. But soon, she writes, the pastor became “very lovey” and physical, and Jones recalls feeling ashamed and confused. “There wasn’t really a manual for how to politely turn your boss, pastor and father figure down but still maintain a relationship and keep your job.”
In late April 2019, Jones alleges, “My pastor raped me in my office while most of our staff, teams and my family stood just outside the door.” She quit because she would’ve had to report the “nonconsensual and horribly traumatic event” to the executive pastor, Carter’s wife. Days later, Carter “confessed to ‘an affair’” and stepped down from Together church.
Alabama Church Has Attempted Rehabilitation Before
Micahn Carter isn’t the first pastor who’s found a home at The Church of the Highlands following an inappropriate relationship elsewhere. After Dino Rizzo resigned for that reason from a Louisiana church in 2012, the Alabama megachurch welcomed him for a yearlong “restoration plan” and supervised ministry.
Back then, Hodges said Rizzo and his family “needed a place to go for the next season,” and Rizzo responded in a sermon, “I just want to thank God for men who will stand by you.” Rizzo remains on staff at The Church of the Highlands in senior leadership; he also helped to found ARC, the Association of Relational Churches.
Last summer, Pastor Chris Hodges made headlines for “liking” several social media posts by Charlie Kirk that had racist undertones. He apologized, but the church lost some community partnerships because of the uproar.
Clarification: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect Dino Rizzo’s role in founding the ARC.