Pastor’s Confession • Tax Refund Denial • More Sanctuary Churches: News Roundup
    This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
    Pastor’s Confession • Tax Refund Denial • More Sanctuary Churches: News Roundup
    Image: Danilo Batista / Unsplash

    Pastor Confesses “Sexual Incident” to Congregation. “The Memphis, Tennessee, congregants broke into 25 seconds of applause after the pastor confessed to a 1998 ‘sexual incident’ with a teenager and asked for their forgiveness. Now 42, pastor Andy Savage of Highpoint Church was 22 at the time and a youth minister at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church outside Houston, Texas, when the incident with Jules Woodson occurred. ‘As a college student on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago, I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior in the church,’ he said during Sunday's service. ‘I apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation. . . . Asked her thoughts on Savage's apology, Woodson told CNN through victim advocate Amy Smith: ‘It was disgusting’” (“Tennessee pastor apologizes for ‘sexual incident’ with teen,” CNN).

    Help prevent harmful incidents from taking place at your church with our newly revised Reducing the Risk training program, and ensure proper boundaries for youth ministry are in place with this downloadable resource.

    Georgia Church Denied Tax Refund. “In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the county denied a church's claim that a daycare center it operates qualified as a place of religious worship, making it exempt from property taxes. Union Cathedral Church requested a refund of taxes from the county on property the church uses as a daycare, which is not exempt like churches. . . . L. Andrew Smith represented Union Catherdral at the county hearing. He said the property is used for ‘both direct church ministry and for ancillary services of the church.’ The property is owned by Union Cathedral, but the church does not legally use the property, according to the Lowndes County Board of Assessors. The property is used by a separate entity named Children's Destiny Christian Academy, which is operated by Union Cathedral for liability reasons” (“County denies church tax refund,” The Valdosta Daily Times).

    Learn more about possible property tax implications for your church with this downloadable resource.

    Number of Sanctuary Churches Rises. “Since President Trump took office, the number of American churches willing to shelter undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation has grown to about 1,000—a small fraction of the Christian community. . . . The sanctuary movement has its modern roots in the 1980s, when civil wars in Central America sent hundreds of thousands of political refugees into the U.S. seeking asylum. Church leaders sheltered them and were later prosecuted and convicted, though received no jail time. The movement was revived under President Obama, who critics called the deporter-in-chief for the record-high removals that happened under his watch. And since President Trump took office, the number of churches that have joined this movement, saying they’re willing to shelter people or help do so, has grown from 400 to around 1,000” (“More churches are opening their doors to undocumented immigrants facing deportation,” PBS Newshour).

    Learn more about the sanctuary church movement in this blog post.

    We're always preparing the best and fastest ways to bring you the news in the context of expert advice. For more regular updates, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.

    Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.

    This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

    Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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