A Montgomery, Ala. church has ousted their pastor with 23 years’ tenure there after he admitted from the pulpit he was HIV-positive, was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, used drugs, mishandled church funds and had sex with members on church grounds without revealing his diagnosis to them. Rev. Juan Demetrius McFarland of the 160-member Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church confirmed to local media that he made the admissions in a series of sermons starting September 14. At first, McFarland only revealed his health status, to which the congregation offered compassion and prayers; in later sermons McFarland continued his confessions of wrongdoing to the point that church leaders were forced to act.
“He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS,” Deacon Nathan Williams Jr. told WSFA 12 News, who also reported that McFarland was removed from his position late last week. In a resolution read aloud at the church, leaders also confirmed that McFarland admitted to drug use and receiving funds for business trips he never took.
“Our moves are going to come directly from counsel. We want peace and we want to do things right, legally,” Williams said, as reported by Christian Post. “We are not looking to hurt him. We are looking to get the church back. That’s our theme: Get the church back. We want the church back. That’s it.”
Church members say they are stunned, and some are concerned for their personal safety. “Who does this to people and you are the leader? Who does this?” a church member, who wanted to remain anonymous, told a media representative.
Another said, “I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him and that she didn’t want this to go public, and she running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her. And my heart goes out to her because she’s been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen. The fact that he didn’t tell them at all, that’s a crime in itself.”
“I believe that he should be put on trial,” still another unnamed church member said. “Go to court and let the judge decide if he should go to jail or not. We tend to sweep things under the rug, especially if they’re the leader. It’s like, ‘Oh no, please, let’s not get this out,’ but I think after this that they will have more discussions on HIV and AIDS.”
Most recent reports say (and local police confirm) at this time no charges have been brought against McFarland because there has been no complaint filed. Local media also confirmed that the congregation is asking for prayer for their church.