An Ohio pastor has been charged with aggravated menacing and domestic violence after allegedly threatening his wife with a loaded gun. The Rev. Charles Ross, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in Toledo, has pleaded not guilty. He is due back in court on September 26 for a pre-trial hearing.
Charles Ross’ Wife Feared for Her Safety
Yolonda Ross called police for assistance in the early hours of Sunday, September 4, saying her husband loaded a firearm in their home and threatened to kill her. According to court records, Charles Ross caused “the belief of serious physical harm or imminent death to his live-in wife and mother of his children when he loaded a firearm and stated, ‘Is it going to end?’ while he held the firearm in front of the victim.”
During his initial court appearance on September 6, Pastor Ross was fingerprinted and released on his own recognizance. A judge ordered him to stay away from his wife. The Rosses have three children.
A relative of Yolonda Ross says the pastor should no longer lead his congregation. “I’m the one that went up and [talked] to the deacons,” says the family member, who requested anonymity. “You’re supposed to protect [the woman], not cause harm to her. You’re threatening to harm. That’s a problem.”
Although the relative admits “we all make mistakes,” he adds, “there’s no way it should be where you can do this and then lie to people saying you didn’t do it. It’s unacceptable.”
New Prospect has not responded to requests for comment or addressed whether Ross will remain as its pastor. The church’s social media pages have been disabled. On YouTube, the congregation describes itself as a family-oriented ministry that aims to change lives, heal people, and strengthen families.
Addressing a Surge in Domestic Violence
As Church Leaders has reported, domestic violence has increased in the past couple of years, partly due to the stress of pandemic-related isolation. An increasing number of churches have begun addressing the problem from the pulpit and offering resources for abuse victims.
Joanna Berry of the South Texas Children’s Home Ministries tells Baptist Press: “From the pulpit, a pastor can present how women should be treated, using many examples, including Jesus.” In addition, she says, churches can share survivors’ stories, provide counseling services or recommendations, and offer resources “for respite and healing, keeping in mind that most women will not have financial resources to pay for this.”