On Friday (June 3), First Baptist Church of Woodstock (FBCW), the church where Johnny Hunt served as pastor for over 30 years, released a letter to church members stating their intent to suspend Hunt’s role as pastor emeritus following credible allegations of sexual abuse against him revealed in Guidepost Solution’s report.
Guidepost’s investigation took place at the request of SBC messengers at last year’s annual meeting. The report was released on May 22, and along with other findings, detailed a sexual encounter Hunt had with a pastor’s wife in 2010.
Johnny Hunt Accused of Sexual Abuse
The woman described the sexual encounter with Hunt as non-consensual, alleging that the former SBC President abused her by fondling her chest, pulling down her shorts, and kissing her. In the report, Hunt denied having any physical contact with his accuser but later released a statement to FBCW admitting to having an inappropriate encounter with the pastor’s wife. Nevertheless, he said, “It was not abuse nor was it assault.”
Hunt resigned as SBC’s North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Senior Vice President of Evangelism and Leadership on the same day Guidepost’s report was released by the Sexual Abuse Task Force.
FBCW’s Pastor Addresses Guidepost’s Report; Hunt’s Abuse
FBCW pastor Jeremy Morton’s sermon on May 29 spoke to Hunt’s alleged sexual abuse.
Morton took over lead pastor duties in 2018 after Hunt stepped down to serve NAMB. Under Hunt’s leadership, FBCW grew from 1,000 to 19,000 church members.
During his sermon, Morton told FBCW that he voted alongside 15,000 other messengers to have the investigation done, saying, “What’s done in the light is done right. Let’s not be negligent about our convictions, particularly our conviction to honor and to protect women and children.”
Morton made it clear to his congregation that the investigation was not a result of a liberal drift in the SBC, a claim he referred to as misinformation.
“Southern Baptists were proactively trying to get our house in order based on public rumblings across the denomination. Let me be as clear as I can be. This was not a woke mob. This was not a witch hunt. This was not a group of liberals trying to take down the convention. If you say this, you are misinformed,” Morton said. “We, the people, allowed and called for this investigation to occur. No one anywhere can honestly say with integrity Southern Baptists are woke liberals. This is nonsense. Our theology of Scripture, eternity and mission is overwhelmingly clear.”
“I am heartsick and uncomfortable talking about the report’s conclusion, especially on a Sunday morning in a public venue,” Morton shared. “The details are disturbing and heartbreaking. Nothing can prepare you for the hellishness that has been documented.”
In his recap of the Guidepost report, Morton said, “It breaks my heart as a daddy before it breaks my heart as a pastor,” explaining that a Baptist Press reporter shared with him “that over the last 25 years, around 400 Southern Baptist ministers have been arrested or charged with sex crimes involving minors. They estimate some 1,000 minors are known to be victims. These are just the ones that are known from public records. These are just the ones that involve minors. This does not include the number of pastors who have preyed upon adult women.”
Last fall, Morton preached a sermon wherein he implored men, especially those in powerful positions of authority, “to go to every length imaginable to honor and protect women and children—to walk in integrity, humility, transparency, and honesty.” Morton also made a plea to any women who had been a victim of abuse to contact law enforcement and/or reach out to leadership within the church.