For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
– Psalm 33:4-5
As your Lead Pastor and the Church Council of Broadmoor Baptist Church, we need to bring to you a matter of great importance, and great grief.
In 1982 Broadmoor brought on a youth pastor named David Ingram. At the time David joined our pastoral team he was 28 years old and a married father. David served as youth pastor until 1988, and after that he and his family remained active and engaged members of Broadmoor until he returned to the pastorate as the lead pastor of a nearby church in 2010. As a church family, we loved David, his wife, and his children, and we still do. With that being said, ten days ago Church Council heard from a woman who was also part of our church family. Her story was one of sexual abuse by David while he was in the position of our youth pastor. As part of her story, the survivor informed us of grooming that began when she was 12, and sexual abuse which began at age 15 and continued for several years.
We are withholding details to protect the survivor and the integrity of the process we will be undertaking; but, we want to share with you that we have heard from multiple individuals to whom this survivor disclosed her abuse in various ways over the past several years. These individuals came forward at her request to verify her disclosures and the trauma care she has been provided. The survivor also requested that we speak with three of her past and present counselors, which we have done. All three verified her disclosures of abuse and the extensive treatment she has received as a result. Her story has remained consistent through the years of disclosures among multiple people. She and her husband have also shared with us a letter that was read to David and his wife several years ago in a personal confrontation detailing this abuse. At this meeting, the survivor, her husband, and two of her counselors were present. We have spoken to the counselors to better understand the details of the confrontation. Both counselors have confirmed to us that David offered a non-specific apology, and that he did not attempt to refute or deny anything presented to him in that meeting. Additionally, we have been made aware of, and shown documentation for, payments made by David to assist in covering therapy and medical costs for the survivor. It is important to note that a sizeable portion of these payments were made only after the survivor agreed to a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) which prohibited her and her husband from speaking of these allegations. Prior to signing the NDA, the survivor made extensive disclosures to many individuals, including written documentation. Several of these individuals independently corroborated the survivor’s allegations.
Additionally, we were told that at least one former pastor of Broadmoor was approached by the survivor shortly after David was no longer Broadmoor’s youth pastor. We have seen documentation that this former pastor was again approached by the survivor in 2019, requesting help in warning David’s current church about his past abuse. This pastor expressed acknowledgment and grief for the wrong she experienced. At this point we do not know what, if any, actions were taken as a result of these requests.
It is also our understanding that the survivor shared aspects of her abuse with pastors and other church leaders starting in 2011. Some care and help has been provided to her throughout this time, but we believe a more thorough response was warranted.
We must speak clearly – We are heartbroken. We believe this survivor has made credible assertions that she was sexually abused by David in his role as Broadmoor’s youth pastor. This belief combined with our Christian values and our policies require that we take certain actions.
Where we are right now.
Over the past ten days Church Council has been walking closely with the survivor and her husband, as well as advocates of her choosing, including her counselor and trusted advisors. It is critical to us that the steps taken in response include bringing this to your attention, seeking to care for the survivor, and restoring her agency and voice in this process.
We have asked David for input and have spoken with members of his family. We have also received a response from his attorney who has denied the allegations in their entirety on their behalf.
As Church Council, we have communicated to both the survivor and David that should David choose to pursue a lawsuit against her for breaching the NDA and telling us her story, Broadmoor will assist in her defense, including a willingness to reimburse certain costs. We believe this is right and Biblical – the harm occurred through our former youth pastor, which means it is our responsibility to pursue justice. This justice is not a pursuit Christians should take begrudgingly, but rather a calling and a command to soberly embrace and humbly fulfill.
Where we are heading.
We recognize that this journey will be full of grief, and that many of you may also feel anger, confusion, loss, and many other emotions. Our church family has strong relationships with both the survivor’s family and David’s, and the wounds are and will be deep. We also recognize that for many in our congregation who have also suffered abuse, this may be an intensely painful time for you – please know that the road you are walking weighs heavily on us, and we do not want you to walk it alone.
We will be taking the following steps.
- First, we will engage an independent, third-party firm to conduct a thorough investigation and assessment related to these allegations. We will update you once this firm is engaged. The assessment will include the following:
- A factual examination of the allegations.
- An assessment of our policies and practices at the time of these events to make sure we fully understand any factors that may have fostered or allowed for the abuse to take place.
- An assessment of pastoral responses over the relevant time frames, including the times of alleged abuse and the survivor’s disclosures. This will include investigating whether any other individuals in church leadership knew of the abuse or “red flag” behavior.
- An assessment of our current culture, policies and practices to evaluate any current weaknesses and provide recommendations to address such weaknesses, if found.
We will ensure that the independent firm has full access to all relevant information and publish the results of this assessment publicly. We understand that this commitment may feel frightening, but we pray that we can remember together that those who claim Christ’s name are called to bring light into dark places and to be bearers of the truth. As members of Christ’s body, let us follow this command together, knowing that Christ does not need our defense, but requires our obedience.
- Second, we are working with local counselors to provide safe places for our church body to process the emotions and questions we know will arise. We have shared those names below, and will continue to update this list as this process unfolds.
- Third, we are seeking counsel on ways we can continue learning about this issue, and how to love and care well for those who have suffered abuse. We are committed to walking this path of grief and growth together, knowing that it is Christ who joins His body together, and that He is our Redeemer.
A final word.
Scripture calls us to weep with those who weep, and we have grieved heavily these past ten days. We are broken-hearted for the courageous survivor, and the devastating impact this trauma has had on her, her family, and other individuals. We are broken as well for our church family, knowing that survivors in our congregation will rightly feel this deeply, and that all the members of our body will ache with the weight of this. It is a time to weep with those who weep, and to grieve this brokenness together.
To the survivor in this case,
We hear you. We acknowledge your pain. We are so very sorry.
To other survivors of abuse:
We are grieved that abuse is part of your story. If you want help from individuals who can care and guide you through your trauma, we encourage you to consider using the following resources
- Lois Young with Cornerstone Counseling, 769-230-4953
- Fred Hall with Cornerstone Counseling, 601-405-7440
- Ruth Whitley with Crossroads Counseling, 601-385-0066
- Russ Shulte with Watershed Counseling, 601-362-7020
- Broadmoor’s counseling center, The Center for Hope and Healing (CHH), 601-898-4947
In the case that your trauma was caused by or related to events that happened at Broadmoor or another church, consider contacting the Southern Baptist Convention’s hotline, overseen by Guidepost Solutions at (202) 864-5578 or SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com
If you need to discuss financial assistance to pursue counseling related to abuse, please call the CHH at 601-898-4947.
To our congregation:
You may be worried about your church, and how this all may impact Broadmoor’s standing in our community. We are seeing God do amazing things through His church, and you may be afraid that this will derail that work. But we cannot allow fear to keep us from pursuing justice. We cannot be so afraid of the harm to our reputation that we neglect to do that which is right. Please be encouraged that your church lives out the values it preaches – we seek to Pursue Reconciliation and Run to the Hurting. Please pray for the survivor, David, their families, others who may be impacted by sexual abuse and for the investigation. Please pray that this is a time where we grow together, in humility, compassion and proactivity, knowing that Christ is faithful, and we are called to faithfulness as well. If you have any questions, please send them to email@example.com.
To our community:
We are so sorry this happened at our church. Even if the abuse occurred over 30 years ago, this is our sin to confess, and to repent of. Sexual abuse goes against the very core of how we seek to join Jesus on His Mission for the glory of God and the good of our communities. We ask for understanding and we promise to do everything we can to prevent this from happening at our church again.
To the media:
We understand that as this story unfolds, you may have questions. We have decided to direct all media inquiries to our Media and Communications Pastor Michael Bowen. He will be as open and honest as possible, but given the fact that we intend to engage an independent investigator, he will likely not be making public comments until after that investigation is completed. Should you desire to contact him, you can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We began this statement with a section of Psalm 33, and we close with this Psalm as well – a reminder that the God who knows our hearts sees all things. Nothing is hidden from His sight. A reminder that our hope is not in might or strength, but in Christ our Redeemer. A reminder that when our souls wait upon the Lord, we can follow him with joy and gladness, no matter the road we are walking.
“The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”