Antioch Baptist Church
Antioch Baptist Church in Sevierville, Tennessee. (Source: Google Maps)

Former Abuser Resigns as Pastor After Church is Ousted from Southern Baptist Convention

By Adelle Banks

A Tennessee pastor who confessed two decades ago to statutory rape has resigned after his church was recently removed from the Southern Baptist Convention for hiring him.

Pastor Randy Leming Jr., who served at Antioch Baptist Church in Sevierville, announced his resignation on Feb. 28, the Baptist and Reflector reported last Thursday.

The Baptist and Reflector, a publication of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, said Leming had been with the church since 2014.

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, meeting in February, determined that the church was no longer “in friendly cooperation” with the denomination because “the church knowingly employs as pastor a man convicted of statutory rape.”

The SBC voted in 2019 to amend its constitution to make sexual abuse one of the stated grounds for disfellowshipping a church. 

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Leming declined to provide a statement to the Baptist and Reflector. Religion News Service could not immediately reach the church for comment.

According to a 1998 decision in a Tennessee appeals court, Leming was 31 and a pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in Sevier County in 1994 when he performed oral sex on a 16-year-old victim on two occasions. Shiloh Baptist is within six miles of the Antioch church.

Leming appealed the two concurrent sentences of 18 months in prison he received, claiming the sentences were excessive. The judge in the case upheld the lower court decision, calling the committed offenses “especially shocking and reprehensible.”

The Tennessee Baptist Mission Board was not informed of the disfellowshipping of Antioch until after the Executive Committee decision had been reported in a state newspaper, the Baptist news journal said.

“Now that this has been brought to our attention, we will begin the process to better understand the circumstances surrounding Antioch Baptist Church’s situation,” said Randy C. Davis, president of the mission board. “The SBC Executive Committee had a full year to work through its process and to better understand the situation. It is important that Tennessee Baptists also understand the complexities.”

Adelle Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service.

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11 thoughts on “Former Abuser Resigns as Pastor After Church is Ousted from Southern Baptist Convention”

  1. It is encouraging to see that decisive actions are being taken on both the national and local level. I would like to hear more about how the Executive Committee is implementing the 2019 standards.

  2. This story is incorrect. The 16 year old victim performed oral sex on Flemming twice. Not the other way around. I’m horrified to know the sort of people who are standing as pastors in churches across this country.

  3. I very much want to hear from Leming’s flock on why they are so hellbent on keeping him even knowing what he did. If they are on-board with these offenses then they’re more like the Taliban than any real brethren in Christ and should be treated as such by us.

  4. So much for repentance and forgiveness, right? You all are acting like this sin is too heinous to be forgiven. It’s a good thing that God doesn’t operate by this standard that you’re applying here – otherwise, we’d all go to hell.

    1. A 31 year old man who coerces a 16 year old into sex (rape psychologically/age wise) or uses the aura of pastor/leadership to get sex does not deserve to be in a position of leadership. He may not be going to hell and he is forgiven for sure but is not to be trusted going forward. He can sit in the pew all he wants.

      1. Yeah, and a religious leader who held the coats of people while they stoned Stephen to death and was intent on killing more Christians also should never have been allowed to preach, by your standard. And a king who committed murder to cover up his adultery shouldn’t be allowed to write psalms. Give me a break. This is the power of the gospel, to forgive and reconcile such people to God. If he wasn’t saved before and he is now, you don’t get to tell him he can’t preach.

        1. Darrell,

          If I knew who you were in real life and I had friends with children that had contact with you, I would let them know that you are defending a CONVICTED RAPIST of a teenage girl (who isn’t even repentant) online. Mind you–this is someone who professed to be saved and on-fire for Christ at the time… a 31 year-old MARRIED pastor, and father to boot. This is far beyond the pale. I don’t see secular people, I don’t even see radical liberal culture warriors behaving like this (most of the latter are in fact throwing Gov. Cuomo under the bus as we speak, for allegations much less serious than what Leming actually did). I think you need to read 1 Corinthians 5:1 because that is what these “Christians” such as yourself who defend unrepentant sexual predators are. If you feel no discomfort whatsoever at that warning and admonition, it’s time to question just how much Christ regenerated your own heart, if he did at all.

      2. Jen,

        “He may not be going to hell and he is forgiven for sure”

        I would have backed you up up until this point, but I think you’re off here. How do *you know* he’s forgiven and saved? His actions (which include trying to get out of what was already a joke of a sentence) scream otherwise. I’m sick and tired of men/women of the cloth getting a pass for atrocious and evil behavior.

        Matthew 7:20: By their fruit you will recognize them.
        Matt 7:23: Depart from me, I never knew you.
        Matt 18:6: If anyone shall hurt these little ones which follow me, it should be better for a millstone to be hung around their necks.

        If we can’t accept not raping kids as a minimal bar of conduct for a believer, we deserve to have the pavement mopped with our bare behinds every election out from here to kingdom come.

    2. Darrell, how do you see the difference between a “lost sheep” and a predator in “sheep’s clothing?”

      Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

  5. You read this article and you might be interested in reading another one in this vein: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2021/03/15/taylor-university-professor-jeffrey-marsee-arrested-and-charged-with-sexual-molestation-of-a-child-and-possession-of-child-porn/

    I will leave a comment here about that article because I am on permanent moderation there for writing comments like the following. I could post it there but it would just get deleted even though I have references to back this up as true.

    This prof. is a gay man molesting boys, that is the charges. Gays molesting same-sex make up a full 1/3 of court cases even though their total numbers are very small. So dependent on whose numbers you use for how many straights exist in this country for each gay, simple math leaves you with a rate that is 30-99 times higher for molestation in their community

    Also crime stats are higher for their community in terms of how many of them are in jail or involved in court cases as defendants. And in regards to molestation the number of total victims those in jail have admitted to abusing are significantly higher than the average straight abuser who only targets children of the opposite sex.

    I found these stats in reputable publications from the 90’s before political correctness muzzled those who would still be looking at those kinds of stats today. So I do not know what is happening today but based on what I have come across more recently I am concerned that those numbers may very well be even worse with our society opening up Pandora’s Box. We have learned nothing from what happened that made the tribe of Benjamin the smallest of the 12.

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