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Moody Provost Heading Investigation Expresses Regret for Endorsing Pastor with History of Sex Abuse

By Jackson Elliott
Moody Provost Dwight Perry (Photo Credit: Moody Bible Institute)

Moody Bible Institute (MBI) Provost Dwight Perry, who is supervising an investigation into alleged mismanagement of sexual abuse cases at MBI, today said he regrets “any confusion” caused by his endorsement of a pastor who sexually abused a relative.

The pastor, Charles Lyons, resigned from Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago in November 2019, after admitting the abuse, which occurred decades ago.

Lyons had pastored Armitage Baptist for 45 years, and the news of his abuse and resignation was covered in the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times. It also was covered by local TV news stations, as well as the New York Post, Baptist Press, and Associated Press.

In a letter Perry wrote in July 2020, eight months after Lyons’ resignation, Perry called Pastor Lyons “an outstanding pastor and leader and adds: “I highly recommend him for ministry to the glory and honor of our Lord.”

In his letter released today on the Moody website, Perry says he wrote the 2020 recommendation for Lyons because at the time, Perry “did not know of allegations of past sexual abuse by Mr. Lyons while he was an adolescent.”

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Perry said he “recently learned of this alleged sexual abuse, and promptly retracted my recommendation.” He added, “I regret any confusion my letter may have caused.”

Today’s letter by Perry comes in response to allegations from alleged victims of sexual abuse at MBI and their allies who say Perry’s endorsement of Lyons shows a lack of concern for sex abuse victims.

Emily Joy, a spoken word poet and advocate for sex abuse victims, today tweeted: “So let me get this straight… Dwight Perry knew Charles Lyons for many years, enough to write him a letter of recommendation, but didn’t know he had recently resigned in disgrace in a very public way? Are you lying or incompetent?”

A group of survivors of abuse at MBI, called MBI Survivors, also said in a statement to The Roys Report: “[Perry’s support of Lyons] communicates that Perry doesn’t understand the severity of sexual abuse and that he will stand by an abuser, even after being found out.”

Yet Perry said in an email to The Roys Report, “I do not and would not knowingly endorse someone who is under a cloud of sexual abuse.”

When asked if he had spoken to Lyons’ victim, Perry said, “I did not know he had done this. How could I speak to any victims if I did not know? Allow me to reiterate one more time, I would not write a letter of recommendation for anyone who is under the cloud of sexual abuse.”

Allegations & Investigation

Last October, MBI Survivors published a petition urging Moody President Mark Jobe to investigate alleged mishandling of sex abuse at Moody.

In response, Moody hired Grand River Solutions to interview survivors and investigate their cases. Also, Dean Tim Arens, who was accused of mishandling many of the cases, announced he would take an early retirement and Title IX Coordinator Rachel Puentes, who also was the target of allegations, was put on administrative leave.

The investigation hasn’t satisfied MBI Survivors.

They say Moody leaders cut off communication with the group on Nov. 5, 2020, and did not openly communicate a way for former Moody students to contact Grand River Solutions (GRS). The group adds that the few people who got interviews received them because students on Moody email lists forwarded GRS contact information.

“Moody put out a statement via email to their database on how to email Grand River Solutions, but we were not included in that database,” MBI Survivors told The Roys Report by email. “We had current students send it to us and that is the only way we knew what was happening and how to contact them. It’s insufficient because they stated that they would let us know how/when to get in contact with the investigators when they chose a firm, but they stopped communicating with us before then.”

After MBI Survivors raised these concerns on Twitter, Moody extended the investigation’s fact-gathering phase to Feb. 28. However, school administrators still did not send this information to MBI Survivors leaders, the group said.

MBI Survivors representatives said it is unlikely that the extension will provide enough time to gather all the evidence.

The group also noted that President Mark Jobe recently blocked MBI Survivors on Twitter, adding insult to injury.

Lyons Re-launches ministry

Lyons has now started his own ministry, City Hope International, which trains Christian leaders to serve in urban environments.

Lyons launched a website for City of Hope and has posted numerous letters from Christian leaders endorsing him. For a time, Perry’s letter appeared on the website with the others.

Others who have letters of endorsement posted at the site include: Pastor Anselmo Macolor of Life Connection Church, Pastor David Gipson of Naples Family Church, Together Chicago founder Michael N. Allen, Bible Mission Global Field Director Paul Hagelgans, Skokie Valley Baptist Church office manager Lillian Mante, Pastor Dave Collings of Christ Church Ohio, Pastor Andy Zivojinovic of New Hope Bible Church, Lighthouse Baptist Church Children’s director Mrs. Jamy Smith, Pastor Michael L. Gregory of Tower Grove Church, and Pastor Charles M. Butler of Hope Church Chicago.

The Roys Report reached out to all these leaders and institutions for comment. Mante refused an interview. The other leaders did not respond by the time of publication. 

Tom Lyons, Charles Lyons’ brother, spoke with The Roys Report and expressed concern that Christian leaders like Perry have endorsed Lyons.

Lyons said the abuse wasn’t confined to when Charles was an adolescent. He said his brother’s abuse continued into Charles’ first year of college when Charles was 20. He added that Charles Lyons kept his abuse secret from the church for decades and made “inappropriate and ineffective attempts” to reconcile with the family member he abused.

“He doesn’t see that as something that would make him disqualified in relation to how he’s interacted with the family member over the years. He doesn’t see how hurtful it was,” Tom Lyons said.

The Roys Report reached out to Charles Lyons for comment, but he did not respond.

*This article has been updated to better characterize Tom Lyons concerns. 

Jackson ElliottJackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.



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16 Responses

  1. Just wondering why the Provost, a high ranking official at MBI, is heading the investigation? This seems like an obvious conflict of interest which stands to taint the investigation and keep victims from coming forward. This can’t be an independent investigation. The victim’s group should not back down and keep pressing for a real investigation.

    In terms of Pastor Lyons, it would be interesting to know why he thinks sexual abuse of a minor victim, even if it took place years ago, was not disqualifying? Sexual abuse of a minor victim usually involves underlying abuses of power and control which likely impacted him and his ministry for years especially if he didn’t receive professional help. And why did it take the other church leaders two years to finally take action after he told them? It is likely another case of a powerful, long term leader who had control over the church and other leaders.

  2. I just read through the stories of the group that goes by “MBI survivors” and I don’t understand how these abusers get admitted into MBI in the first place, or why they would choose to go there. You have men raping women. You have homosexual women sexually harassing their roommates. You have the female Title 9 coordinator, who I believe was one of the “progressive” infiltrators among MBI’s staff, covering it up and accepting the homosexual’s explanation they were just having fun. I was an MBI student in early 2000s. I never detected a hint of any sexual immorality going on between students, much less sexual harassment or rape. That would have been unimaginable to me at the time. The worst scandal I ever heard of was an unmarried student couple going off campus to kiss. I can say I got a strange vibe from Dean Arens the one time I met with him in his office… So this whole thing is sad. The worst thing is obviously that people have been abused at MBI and they were not protected. Secondary to that, look at how this abuse cover up scandal is giving ammunition to people who would like to burn MBI to the ground if they can’t succeed in corrupting it with their demonic agendas. And look at the ungodly anti-Christian people who are gathering MBI victims under their wings. They are not people I would trust to take good care of a sister in Christ who was victimized. Look at the MBI Survivors Twitter account and the close interaction with Emily Joy, who lives a homosexual life, wrote a book called ChurchToo that bashes purity, promotes sites called @Impurityculture and @Scarleteen, which is about homosexualizing children and promoting abortion and all manner of evil. Emily Joy is offering herself as the go-to person for any other victims from MBI who want to tell their story. Emily says she went to MBI herself for three years. Why would a person with nothing in common with the values and morals of MBI even want to go there in the first place? It’s obvious there has been a coordinated effort by those who want to transform Christianity into the devil’s image to infiltrate MBI with an agenda to corrupt and/or destroy it. Julie, I hope as you report on this sad situation and give voice to these victims you are careful not to help prop up these characters as being safe havens for victims from Moody to go to. Perhaps any of the victims who are following Jesus might consider not giving deference to them to represent you as you seek accountability, truth and righteousness from Moody.

  3. Another sad story of victims not being heard and loved by the church, which should be the safest and godliest place for a person to go for help. No wonder they end up turning to the world. I have lost so much respect for MBI over the past few years, and this only compounds that.

  4. If you read the ‘mbisurvivors’ tweets, their body of followers include a significant number of members from the LGBTQ community. ‘Mbisurvivors’ have re-quoted tweets written by lesbians and other members of the LGBTQ community. ‘Mbisurvivors’ have joined forces with the LGBTQ community which is demanding ‘pain and suffering’ reparations for a lesbian student who attended Moody as well as demanding significant changes to Moody’s policies based on the Bible’s stance of LGBTQ.

    As with so many other claims against conservative religious organizations, the original issues of the ‘mbisurvivors’ group have been muddied and lost since ‘mbisurvivors’ re-posted and now includes gay rights activists demanding that Moody accepts and permits gay students and pays for the pain and suffering of LGBTQ students caused by conservative Biblical views on sexuality. When these demands are met and Moody bows to the demands of gay rights, women’s rights and all other human rights, we can soon expect that gays and women will be ordained as ministers and pastors within the Evangelical Church through Moody Bible Institute.

    1. That is the goal of the conspiracy that is targeting Moody. And even those within Moody who don’t want to see it go that far share blame for their own compromises with worldliness. As soon as they opened the door to PC, they let in wolves who will not be satisfied until everything MBI once was is devoured. Nothing should be put before God’s Word, truth and righteousness. Love should be supreme but love does not mean you compromise truth or righteousness because other people demand it. As soon as you start listening to the world instead of God on any issue, any issue, whether it’s the gay agenda, the feminazi agenda, or the race warfare (CRT, anti-white racism, white privilege, systemic racism in today’s America) agenda, you are weakening your foundation and setting yourself up for a fall.

  5. Great piece!

    Thanks for venturing again where most won’t go in reporting the truth so the Church can be restored.

    But in that spirit I would like to point out a couple things where I feel I was misrepresented.

    First, I want to note that “expressed outrage” did not characterize my feelings or my statements. I do think it is concerning and ridiculous that many are being supportive to a pastor who was given a disciplinary leave of absence for issues of pride and subsequently asked to resign.

    Also, To clarify the statement that my brother Charles “never reconciled with the family member he abused.” He did make various inappropriate and ineffective attempts toward reconciliation.

    Additional Note:
    his first year at Bible College was at age twenty.

    1. Tom these trials must be hard for you and your family. Sounds like it was the current social climate that motivated the family member to speak out about your brother’s sins/crimes? It seems right that a pastor exits ministry for such a thing but strange to think of the decades of ministry that passed before it was made public and how all of that could have been erased if it was exposed decades ago? I guess God works in mysterious ways. I was actually thinking of your brother and Armitage Baptist Church before I found out about this. I’ve been disappointed by so many churches in Chicago (never over trivial matters,) mostly the selling out to the world and various manifestations of the Pharisee spirit. If it’s not the world, it’s the insider club or the pride or the ambition or something else that takes precedent over the truth, righteousness and love of God. So I started to think of Armitage Baptist Church. Maybe that was the one solid church in Chicago I could turn to. I never heard of any church splits or scandals or selling out to the world. I remember the story of Charles Lyons speaking out against the sin of homosexuality and the mob lashing out against him. Not a cybermob, like today, but a physical mob surrounding his north side church. And Pastor Meeks, with his much larger south side church, bussed in congregants and the Christian worship was so loud and unified it drowned the mob out. With all the selling out going on I thought that is the spiritual boldness the church in Chicago needs, that a preacher will preach God’s Word even if it means a mob shows up on your doorstep. Instead of throwing the brother to the wolves, that is the sort of Christian unity the church in Chicago needs, that you will transport your congregation to the other side of the city if a sister church is in need. But then I came across an article online about Charles Lyons resigning and the darkness from his past. And I guess it sounds like there was another issue in the present. So sad.

  6. The Bible warns of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and Satan’s ministers appearing as “ministers of light.”

    The price of any Christian work of any size is eternal vigilance. Pedophiles and sex offenders of all kinds are generally charming, skillfully manipulative, and smart. Think Ravi Zacharias. They see benevolent organizations of all kinds as a happy hunting ground. A major flag for diagnosing a sociopath or psychopath is their previous successful completion of therapy! Even typical psychiatrist or psychologist is no match for these folks in a one on one relationship. These people are usually caught via hard evidence. Ted Bundy worked as a crisis counselor and was recognized by peers as top notch. One fellow counselor was so shocked when he was convicted that she wrote a book trying to make sense out if all. Even a state background check is not foolproof because it doesn’t include other states, federal, or military records.

    The best check is to not ignore one’s instinct. If the person or staffer is driving kids home alone, infringes on the personal boundaries of kids or adults, if they are counseling in rooms without a clear line of sight, if congregants or kids seem uncomfortable around them, if they are charming and have a ready explanation for risky behaviors, if they are too friendly, if they focus caring for the very vulnerable, etc. trust your instinct and ask those who may be victims if they are okay. Because of the secrecy involved in such abuse, their look will often be a giveaway. Often the victim will open up immediately, just waiting to unload. Look a little harder at the situation. Don’t talk yourself out of your uncomfortableness.

    As pertaining to kids, almost every state requires reporting of SUSPECTED abuse of children and minors—even to the breaching of normal congregant privacy privileges in talking to their clergyman. To not report is to break the law. I’ve known ministers convicted of crimes for not reporting suspected abuse and taking it on themselves to investigate further. County investigators can get other background information you can’t. They can interview possible victims you may not know about. They can take depositions and collect evidence from things like cell phones and computers.

    In today’s mobile world, often non-existent church discipline, people’s ability to change names and re-invent themselves, and in the midst of congregations made up of many attendees who are unknown to each other, it is important to be vigilant–and to report suspected abuse.

  7. It seems that the process by which students are accepted and then allowed to continue at the end of each year, should change at MBI.

    1. What’s also sad about this is well-known pastors in Chicago still freely associate and have attended events with Charles Lyons. Note president of Moody Bible Institute Mark job and Pastor James Meeks. This picture was taken 5/20 Honoring Charles Lyons fathers 70 years of pastoral service. The dark truth about lions was already well known by then.


    1. “I highly recommend him for ministry to the glory and honor of our Lord.”
      By the way , When did the Heavenly Father and His Dear Son suggest , whisper or tell you that putting another name like “doctor” in front of your name was a really good idea for you or anyone else spiritually speaking?
      If you were honest , IF , you would say to all of us that that did not happen.
      Now there are many living “under” that fruit of worldliness and you all are paying a really really big price , was it really worth it Dwight?

  8. and Dwight , did you ever read this?

    ” But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
    And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of
    the cross.”

    Why oh why would you ever want a worldly title ? I think we both know the answer to that don’t we ………..

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