Paul Kingsbury scandal
Rev. Paul Kingsbury has stepped down as pastor of North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. (Video screen grab)

Illinois Pastor Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Scandal at Independent Baptist Church

By Sarah Einselen

The pastor of an independent Baptist church in Illinois has resigned amid mounting allegations of sexual abuse occurring on his watch.

Rev. Paul Kingsbury resigned from North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois, Northern Public Radio reported, quoting a video announcement the church initially posted to its Facebook page. The video has since been removed but was reposted by Preacher Boys, a YouTube channel devoted to stopping clergy abuse within Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.

Kingsbury’s resignation was effective Aug. 19, deacon Doug Stodola said in the video. He also said the deacons were “fully aware and take serious the allegations being made against Pastor Kingsbury and North Love Baptist Church” and were “looking into these matters.” Stodola also asked for prayers for Kingsbury and his wife. He didn’t mention the alleged victim.

The scandal began with a lawsuit filed in May in which a woman says John Neese, formerly a youth pastor at North Love Baptist, sexually abused her from 2004 to 2006 when she was a teenager, the Rockford Register Star reported.

The woman alleges in the lawsuit that Neese committed a variety of sexual offenses against her. These include abusing his authority and committing “physical and verbal threats, intimidation, manipulation and fraud” to keep her quiet about his behavior. She also says the church knew about the abuse but allowed Neese to continue working there.

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The church didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment from The Roys Report. But in the video, interim Pastor Ron Haese said Kingsbury “did nothing, nothing, to disqualify him as pastor.” He characterized Kingsbury’s behavior as “a dumb mistake, and because of that mistake he felt it wise for him to resign and the deacons and myself and [Youth and Children’s] Pastor [Donnie] Barnes agreed with him.”

Since the lawsuit, almost two dozen other women have also said they were sexually abused at the church or one of its ministries, TV station WIFR reported. The church runs a Christian school, a Bible college, and an addiction recovery program Kingsbury co-founded in addition to its children’s and youth programs.

This isn’t the first time the church has been embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal. Another employee of North Love Baptist was found guilty in 2018 of sexually abusing a child at the church while he was working there, the Rockford Register Star also reported.

The church also has ties to Hyles-Anderson College in Indiana, where officials are alleged to have covered up repeated sexual abuse by the son of the Bible college’s founder.

Kingsbury and Haese, the interim pastor, are both Hyles-Anderson graduates, their biographies state.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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7 thoughts on “Illinois Pastor Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Scandal at Independent Baptist Church”

    1. I could be wrong, but I believe this church is right next to Loves Park, a northern part of the Rockford metro area, and that is what “Love” refers to. When I lived in Rockford, so many people told me I should attend North Love, but although I’m fundamental in my beliefs, I’m not KJV-only. So glad I avoided this church. It’s really sad though because their Reformers Unanimous program is used by many churches and is way better than Celebrate Recovery and other alternatives.

      Every church needs to have procedures in place not only to prevent this but to be prepared to handle allegations before they ever happen.

  1. Wow, this is ugly. You have a missionary referenced as a criminal in the GRACE Report of BJU, a former youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting a teen, housing Josh Duggar in “Reformers Unanimous”, and who knows how many others were involved in the assaults on those 21 women–and who knows who else?

    The thing that scares me that most is the insistence that Mr. (not Pastor) Kingsbury did nothing to disqualify himself as pastor–um, yes, he did. Sexual assault/rape is a very serious crime, Biblically speaking, and a pastor ought to know that when he’s got credible evidence of a member or missionary having committed these crimes, he needs to get that to the police.

    Perhaps a large legal judgment will help the church straighten out its thinking, perhaps even involving “piercing the veil” and addressing Mr. Kingsbury personally.

  2. The addiction recovery program this church runs is Reformers Unanimous, where Josh Duggar was sent to be reformed from his abuses.

    The missionary who acknowledged abusing a woman while he was a student at Bob Jones University was allegedly protected by this pastor, sent out to the mission field instead of facing charges. There is a petition to have him recalled, here: https://www.change.org/p/north-love-baptist-church-and-baptist-pioneer-missions-recall-admitted-predator-missionary-richard-devall

    1. That really helped Josh Duggar I am sure. /sarc

      Though I am sure those meetings is where Josh found the technical ways to get around the Covenant Eyes software without alerting the software or anyone else.

  3. In our church we don’t have a youth pastor, we have a youth worker. This sets the stage very nicely in terms of ‘rank’. So I’m thinking of proposing that everyone who serves our church full time is a ‘worker’. Current pastors will become ‘church workers’, the service leaders will become ‘congregation workers’ and our IT department will all be IT workers.
    That should start to dispel the worldly status components of the Rev. or the pastor.

  4. Noticed at the end the mention of Kingsbury and interim pastor Haese’s ties to Hyles-Anderson College considering that HAC and FBC Hammond have had a disproportionately large number of people affiliated with those institutions implicated in various forms of misconduct and sexual abuse either directly and/or via cover-up (including Jack Hyles himself, Hyles’ son David and son-in-law Jack Schaap)

    Not sure who coined the phrase, but whoever first said “If the head of the fish stinks, the whole fish stinks” could have easily applied it to FBC Hammond/HAC considering that fish has been stinking for a long, long time now.

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