Home Christian News For Abuse Survivors Like Jules Woodson, the Indiana Pastor Video Is All...

For Abuse Survivors Like Jules Woodson, the Indiana Pastor Video Is All Too Familiar

Then a woman rose to the stage and rebuked the pastor and congregation, saying that what he was describing as adultery began 27 years ago, not 20, and that she was 16 years old when the pastor abused her.

“You did things to my teenage body that had never and should have never been done,” she said, standing at the church’s pulpit. “If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.”

After she spoke, a man identified as her husband took the microphone and described how the couple was getting help and working through “love and forgiveness.” He also held up a purity ring, saying his wife wore it at the time she was being abused — and then he dropped it on the ground.

“People have to be held accountable,” he said on the video. “They can’t just bamboozle people and say, ‘Well, I just committed adultery.’ It was far beyond adultery.”

After the couple left the stage, Lowe returned and faced angry questions. He admitted the survivor was 16 when his misconduct started.

In a statement posted online, the church said Lowe has resigned, following the revelations at the end of the worship service. The church also said a church member had come forward recently about Lowe’s misconduct — and that church leaders had learned of it and confronted Lowe.

“The woman in question and her family did attend together and addressed the congregation, indicating that improper sexual conduct first occurred when she was 16 years of age and continued into her twenties. She tearfully described living with the deep shame and pain over the ensuing years.”

RELATED: Jules Woodson to abuse survivors: ‘You are strong, you are brave and your voice matters’

Margo Stone, executive director of the Ministry Development Network, which helps denominations deal with pastoral misconduct, said that independent churches like New Life often lack the skills or experience needed to deal with cases of pastoral abuse and misconduct. Those churches often don’t understand the power dynamics involved between the pastor and the congregation.

“The pastor is still going to be seen as someone who needs to be revered, especially if it’s a very pastor-centric kind of church,” she said. “What happens is, as we saw with the Southern Baptists, the victims tend to get left in the dust or blamed for having pulled the pastor away from his ministry calling.”

Churches tend to see pastoral misconduct as a sin, rather than an abuse of power, Stone said. So if a pastor confesses his sins, the church is prone toward forgiveness and is tempted to move on and find ways to return the pastor to leadership, rather than dealing with the harm the pastor’s actions caused.