Copeland proceeded to tell his congregation about “an article that was written about my capacity as a mayor [and] my capacity as a pastor” and said that what was written in the article “is not who or what I am.” He then joked that he knows that he is not a “handsome man nor beautiful woman either.”
“I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private personal life that has come publicly,” he added. “This will not cause my life to change. This will not waver my devotion to my family, to serving my city, [or] serving my church.”
Copeland thanked God for his grace and his willingness to forgive but claimed that he has “nothing to be ashamed of” and that “a lot of things that were said were taken out of context.”
As he concluded his confession, Copeland said that he loves his family and that his wife and three children are the number one priority in his life. “I’m sorry for what my actions have caused,” the pastor expressed and thanked everyone who has reached out to him.
He then read from Psalm 23 and ended the service with a short message that included him telling the congregation that “when you’re down, scared, worried, remember who has you. Whose rod, whose staff guides you [and] who takes care of you. The only opinion that matters is what God’s opinion of you is.”
The Alabama Baptist State Convention and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions leaders released a statement acknowledging that they are aware of Copland’s “alleged unbiblical behavior related to the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City.”
“We are praying for the leaders of the church family as they seek to determine the truth concerning these accusations,” the statement says. “As the people of God, we pray for the pastor and his family as well. We are in consultation with the Russell Baptist Association’s leadership as they endeavor to assist the First Baptist family during this critical time of need.”
One of the distinctives of Baptist life is the autonomy of the local church. While there has been some connectivity between Phenix City First Baptist and Alabama CBF, Mr. Copeland does not serve in any leadership capacities within Alabama CBF. This would appear to be a matter between pastor and church.