After what he calls a “joke…of very poor taste” went viral, South Carolina youth pastor Cory Wall has been placed on administrative leave. Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, South Carolina, says it will conduct a “thorough and comprehensive investigation” into Wall’s recent distribution of “I heart hot youth pastors” stickers to church youth.
A photo of the sticker went viral last week, with many people expressing concerns about a 35-year-old church worker giving minors such a message. Both Wall and another church leader posted responses—which raised even more questions. Then on Sunday, the church, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, announced that Wall is on leave pending an investigation.
Fairview Baptist Church Youth Pastor Calls I Heart Hot Youth Pastor Sticker ‘A Poor Decision’
About the stickers, Wall says, in part: “Let me assure you that my intentions were pure, and the last thing I wanted to do was make…anyone…feel uncomfortable. We’re updating our church-wide database, and I encouraged kids to come see me to get a sticker and update their information. The sticker was meant to poke fun of the ‘I Heart Hot Mom’ culture. In hindsight, the joke was of very poor taste and a mistake on my part. I do apologize for their distribution.”
Wall adds, “One of our top goals with Fairview Students is to create a safe place for students. Last night, we fell short. Please accept my apologies.”
Scott Shipes, another Fairview Baptist Church pastor, also addresses the situation, writing that the sticker “was offensive to some.” He adds that although he can’t comment on a “personnel” issue, church leaders “understand the severity of the incident and have addressed it” with Wall.
Shipes confirms “this has been dealt with as a serious matter,” then segues into “Cory’s mentioning ‘having a porn addiction.’” That was years ago, writes Shipes, adding that Wall shouldn’t have shared that information with students “until he made parents aware of the topic beforehand and explain the context of why he would share this from his testimony.”
Fairview Baptist Church Faces Backlash on Social Media
Reaction to the sticker debacle was swift, with comments such as “Keep your kids far away from this church.” Some people say it seems like grooming behavior—or at least is tone-deaf, in light of ongoing sexual abuse investigations of the SBC.