Officials at a South Carolina church are investigating a student pastor after placing him on administrative leave following outrage over inappropriate stickers he passed out to minor teens in his care that say, ‘i [heart] hot youth pastors.’
According to the Christian Post, Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, S.C., noted in a statement from several deacons of the congregation and their personnel team posted to Facebook last weekend that the youth pastor, Cory Wall, acknowledged that he made a “poor decision,” adding that they are treating his action “very seriously.”
“Our student pastor, Cory Wall, acknowledges that he made a poor decision and a mistake by making a sticker available that was offensive to some,” the statement said.
“Cory has been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership responsibilities while this situation is being investigated. There will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation. We take this matter very seriously and want to be proactive as we move forward. Our main goal is to always make our campus a safe place for anyone who attends,” the statement continued.
“This decision was made by our deacon officers and personnel team in keeping with our by-laws and personnel procedures. If questions, please contact them,” it added.
Emily Petrini, who describes herself as a believer who is nevertheless filled with doubts, made the stick public first in a Twitter post last week. She wrote that the sticker was sent to her by a South Carolina friend who obtained it from a local mother’s group.
In the post, the mom who shared the sticker noted: “The youth pastor gave my younger sister (14 years old) and other students, this sticker during Midweek last night. He is 35 years old… This made her very uncomfortable.”
“Church officials did not immediately respond to questions from The Christian Post on Monday about the specific age range of minors who were under Wall’s care, but the sticker itself drew swift condemnation,” the outlet reported further.
In an email to Eddie Leopard, the congregation’s lead pastor, the mom alleged that Wall also discussed a porn addition with students while calling for him to be dismissed immediately because he is “displaying grooming behaviors.”
“I’m very disturbed about the inappropriate behavior of your youth pastor Cory Wall. Your email to church members excusing his behavior is also very disturbing. His discussion of his porn addiction with kids is very concerning, in addition to his decision to pass out those offensive stickers. He’s displaying grooming behaviors. I think kids very likely are at risk of sexual abuse in your church. Please do the right thing and remove him from his position immediately,” the email said, according to the CP.
Wall also responded to the mom who raised her concerns.
“Let me assure you that my intentions were pure, I the last thing I wanted to do was to make you, your sister, or anyone else in attendance feel uncomfortable,” Wall allegedly wrote in an email.
“The sticker was meant to poke fun of the ‘I Love Hot Mom’ culture. In hindsight, the joke was of very poor taste and a mistake on my part. I do apologize for their distribution.”