Ohio Pastors Face Indictment for Sex Trafficking Charges. “A third Ohio pastor has been indicted on sex trafficking charges, and prosecutors say all three men worked together to entice underage girls with money in exchange for sex. A federal grand jury in Toledo has indicted the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, the Rev. Anthony Haynes, and the Rev. Kenneth Butler on conspiracy to sex traffic children. All three men pleaded not guilty [on November 14]. The US Attorney’s Office says Haynes began grooming a 14-year-old girl for prostitution in 2014. Prosecutors say Haynes introduced her to other men and all three of the pastors sexually assaulted her” (“3 Ohio pastors indicted on child sex trafficking conspiracy,” The Washington Post).
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Female Senior Pastor Causes Split in Tennessee Baptist Convention. “After a more than 140-year relationship, First Baptist Church of Jefferson City and the Tennessee Baptist Convention are breaking up over the church's decision to hire the first woman to be its senior pastor. The Tennessee Baptist Convention, made up of representatives from Southern Baptist congregations across the state, opted Tuesday morning not to allow members of the East Tennessee church to vote at the convention’s annual business meeting since the Rev. Ellen Di Giosia now leads the congregation. The decision effectively means First Baptist is no longer a part of the convention, said Di Giosia, who was hired by the church earlier this fall. . . . The congregation, also affiliated with other Baptist groups like Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist Joint Committee, still may decide to continue to financially contribute to Tennessee Baptist Convention's institutions and mission work, Di Giosia said” (“Congregation, Tennessee Baptist Convention split over church’s first female pastor,” The Tennessean).
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South Carolina Supreme Court Denies Motion to Rehear Diocese Case. “The state's highest court has opted not to rehear the contentious case pitting The Episcopal Church in South Carolina against the Diocese of South Carolina, putting an end to litigation at the state level. The Diocese of South Carolina, which left The Episcopal Church in 2012, sued to retain ownership of physical and intellectual property. In August, the S.C. Supreme Court handed down a set of five distinct opinions that reversed a circuit court decision, returning most church property to The Episcopal Church. . . . [The Rev. Canon Jim] Lewis said the disassociated diocese was now giving ‘serious consideration’ to petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘Because of the long road of litigation that has brought us to this day, all the parties to this case will need to take counsel together before deciding our next steps,’ he said. If no legal action is taken, the case will end. Twenty-eight church properties currently controlled by the diocese will revert to The Episcopal Church. The two sides are in the midst of a mediation process that could result in a mutually determined arrangement” (“Supreme Court denies Diocese of South Carolina’s motions to rehear and recuse,” The Post and Courier).
Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.
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