A former Southern Baptist music minister, who was fired twice after he reportedly confessed to molesting children, is back on stage at a church in Georgia.
The Roys Report is not naming the music minister because he has not been charged with a crime. The statute of limitations on the alleged misconduct has passed.
However, the minister’s pastor, the Rev. Rodney Brown, told Baptist Press in 2019 that he’d fired the music minister in 2014, when the minister had confessed to molesting a “young teen.” But Brown said he had reinstated the minister of music after the minister repented.
Brown said he again fired the music minister in early 2019.
And in a March 2019 statement published by the Georgia state convention of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Brown apologized to the SBC for having “failed in my duty as a pastor.” Brown said in his statement that his failure stemmed from his “long-standing friendship with the accused.”
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Brown added that the music minister had also resigned his membership from Brown’s church—formerly Trinity Baptist Church of Ashburn, Georgia, now Trinity Community Church. Brown added that the minister had been told not to return to Trinity.
Yet now, Trinity has apparently welcomed the minister back.
The keyboardist has appeared on stage in Sunday livestreams since October 2021 and as recently as last Sunday, The Roys Report found.
Dave Pittman, one of multiple men who say the music minister molested them when they were boys, responded in disgust to the recent development.
“It’s beyond the pale how far Rodney Brown and the people of Trinity are willing to go to protect an admitted child rapist,” Pittman told The Roys Report in an email.
The Rev. Rodney Brown, pastor of Trinity Community Church, did not respond to multiple emails requesting comment.
In 2019, The Houston Chronicle reported on the minister’s alleged abuse of Pittman as part of its massive “Abuse of Faith” investigation. The investigation found hundreds of cases of sexual abuse within the SBC and sparked a crisis in the convention.
Pittman told the Chronicle that the accused, who was his youth pastor, molested him for years starting when Pittman was 12.
Another Georgia pastor, Troy Bush of Rehoboth Baptist Church, said last year he has identified five boys who were sexually abused by the accused minister in his church in the 1980s. He added that he knows the minister assaulted 10 boys at four different Baptist churches and has two “credible-but-unconfirmed reports” of two other boys the minister assaulted at a Georgia church.
When the Houston Chronicle’s investigation was published, the accused was working as the music minister of Trinity Baptist Church — the former name of Trinity Community Church.
SBC’s then-President J.D. Greear named Trinity in a report on sexual abuse Greear released in the wake of the newspaper investigation.
But the Executive Committee bylaws workgroup tasked with acting on Greear’s report decided “no further inquiry was warranted” regarding Trinity.
Pittman now believes Trinity changed its name as part of “an attempt to ‘cleanse their timeline,’ as it were, of past sins.”
Brown told the Baptist Press in 2019 that he’d fired the music minister about five years before, when the minister confessed to molesting a “young teen.” But Brown said the accused was reinstated as minister of music after he said he had repented.
Pittman also believes Brown’s 2019 apology was “a lie” published “for SBC PR reasons,” not out of sincere desire to do right.
Pittman confronted the church’s apparent lack of repentance on Twitter, asking, “When will this evil disguised as Christianity stopped (sic) being tolerated?”
Liars, child rapists, no remorse, no repentance. When will this evil disguised as Christianity stopped being tolerated?
— Dave Pittman (@Dave_Pittman) February 16, 2022
Trinity left the SBC within a year of Brown’s apology over “continued questioning” of how it handled the allegations against its former music minister, an email obtained by The Roys Report shows. That’s when the church changed its name, as well.
Brown wrote to the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in February 2020 that the church had voluntarily withdrawn its SBC membership. In the email, Brown said the church left “after continued questioning concerning the allegations by the SBC President in 2019.”
Brown wrote that “the SBC has continued to push with questions already answered by us with a public apology you printed in March 2019. . . . While we have no issues with Southern Baptist doctrine, we do have issues with being pressed on already answered allegations where no proof was offered concerning abuse at the church.”
At the time, Brown wrote that the church was keeping its membership in the state convention. However, Georgia Baptist Mission Board spokesman John Courtney told The Roys Report that Trinity is not currently a convention member.
The accused former music minister reappeared on stage at Trinity beginning October 17, 2021. No one on stage said anything about his return to the worship team. The nature of his role is unclear, and it’s unknown whether the church has put any safety measures in place to separate him from children in the congregation.
“Now that the dust has settled a bit, they went right back to where they were before,” Pittman told The Roys Report. “That’s not truth, or remorse or repentance. That’s lies. . . .
“God help the little boys at Trinity Community Church of Ashburn, because it’s clear the pastor and parents won’t.”
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect Troy Bush’s statement.
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.