Georgia pastor and former SBC Executive Committee (EC) chairman Mike Stone has been accused by the members of another Georgia church of helping cover up the misconduct of that church’s pastor, intimidating witnesses who sought to bring the misconduct to light in 2019. Stone denies the allegations.
On page 77 of the Guidepost Solutions report on how the EC handled sexual abuse allegations in the SBC from 2000 to 2021, investigators describe an alleged account wherein Stone helped another pastor draft an apology letter to his church after it was discovered that the pastor had acted inappropriately toward a single mother in his church to whom he was offering pastoral counseling.
The inappropriate behavior included “sending her text messages and photographs that were sexually suggestive.”
Stone was the EC chairman at the time. Stone and the unnamed Georgia pastor are friends from college.
Witnesses from the church told Guidepost Solutions investigators that the apology the pastor delivered to the congregation was inaccurate and shifted blame toward the single mother involved, whom Guidepost describes as a survivor.
Further, the “witnesses stated that they felt intimidated by Mr. Stone for bringing the pastor’s behavior to the attention of the deacons in the church,” the report says. “One witness attempted to call Mr. Stone and was instead contacted by Mr. Stone’s assistant who told him that Mr. Stone planned to help the pastor, not the church.”
Following the pastor’s apology, he took a leave of absence from the church but later returned to the pulpit. Witnesses told Guidepost investigators that they felt church deacons retaliated against them for attempting to contradict the pastor’s account of the misconduct.
“One witness stated that the deacons told him that an anonymous complaint had been lodged against him for inappropriately touching a parishioner, which the witness perceived to be retaliation against him,” The report states.
All the witnesses left the church as a result of the situation.
When Guidepost investigators interviewed Stone, he said that though the pastor had engaged in inappropriate conduct, to Stone’s knowledge, none of that conduct “reach[ed] the level of sexual impropriety.”