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Reporting the Truth.
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Report: Prominent Anglican Church Failed to Investigate or Inform Congregation of Sexual Abuse Involving Former Pastor

By Rebecca Hopkins
the falls church anglican TCFA
The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia. (Photo: Facebook)

A prominent Anglican church in Virginia waited 16 years to investigate or inform its congregation about a former youth pastor’s alleged sexual abuse, a third-party investigation has found.

According to the report by law firm Isler Dare, Jeffrey T. Taylor sexually abused three boys—two of whom were 13—while Taylor was a youth director from 1990-1999 at the historic The Falls Church Anglican (TFCA) in Falls Church, Virginia. Despite this, Eddie Isler, the investigator, told The Roys Report (TRR) he was unaware of any pending criminal charges against Taylor.

One of Taylor’s victims approached the church with allegations in 2007, and the parents of another victim came forward in 2021. However, it wasn’t until September 2023, after some parents complained to a bishop about TFCA’s lack of response, that the months-long investigation began. In October 2023, TFCA informed its congregation of the alleged abuse.

TFCA, which President George Washington and former Vice President Mike Pence attended, is a 300-year-old church after which the town is named.

In 2006, the congregation disaffiliated from The Episcopal Church. It’s now part of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)—a denomination embroiled in an abuse scandal involving churches in Illinois and Washington D.C.

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the falls church tfca
The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia. (Photo: Facebook)

TFCA published Isler Dare’s 86-page report on TFCA’s website last month.

The report stated Taylor engaged in “covert” abuse, grooming at least a dozen students in Virginia and engaging in massages, “nut-smacking,” and wrestling.  Taylor also engaged in “overt” sexual abuse of the three boys, which involved specific sexual touch, the report said.

When one victim disclosed Taylor’s abuse in 2007, TFCA Rev. John Yates told Taylor’s new employer about the allegation, a step the investigator praised. Yates also “made some effort” to encourage anyone who’s experienced abuse to inform church leaders without “expressly mentioning” that Taylor was accused, the report said. 

In 2021, another victim died of an alcohol addiction, which reportedly resulted from Taylor’s abuse. Soon after the victim’s death, his parents reported Taylor’s abuse to Yates, who had retired in 2019. Yates told TFCA’s current leadership about the second allegation, but the leadership failed to act.

So, in September 2023, the victim’s parents and the parents of another student in TFCA’s youth ministry went to Chris Warner, the new Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) bishop, who then commissioned the investigation.

As a result of the investigation, TFCA has reported Taylor’s abuse to two law enforcement agencies, attorney investigator Eddie Isler told TRR. Isler also said he provided a copy of the report to federal and local law enforcement but couldn’t comment further on the status of any possible investigations.

According to the report, Taylor had access over decades to hundreds of boys at four churches in three states. In addition to the three boys Taylor abused at TFCA, the report alleges Taylor also sexually abused a fourth boy while serving with a youth ministry Taylor started in Atlanta.

TFCA falls church
Youth ministry event at The Falls Church Anglican in 2012. (Photo: Facebook)

The Roys Report (TRR) was unable to reach Taylor for comment. Isler Dare also did not interview him, citing a desire to cooperate with law enforcement.

Some, like Taylor’s estranged son—Porter Taylor, an Episcopal priest in Florida—are criticizing the investigation for not going far enough.

The younger Taylor said the report has only “begun to scratch the surface” due to the “unfettered” access his father had to hundreds of boys. 

Porter Taylor is calling for more investigations to be conducted at both The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta and the Kairos ministry his father ran. Taylor also launched a petition calling The Church of the Apostles to hire Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) to investigate. More than 500 people had signed the petition as of this writing.

Others are criticizing the findings and Isler Dare, the firm that investigated the abuse.

An 85-member Reddit page called CornerstoneConnect has disputed some details in the investigation, particularly whether Taylor’s employers did enough to respond to disclosures over the years.

Michael Waidmann, who grew up at TFCA in the 1990s, noted the investigation mentioned two additional men at TFCA—a former associate rector and volunteer youth leader—who also abused people in their care. Waidmann, who declined to participate in the investigation, said the report didn’t do enough to examine TFCA’s culture.

“What I want our church to consider and other churches, is what makes a place like The Falls Church Anglican a magnet to predators?” Waidmann said.

Meanwhile, TFCA is in a season of lament with several Q-and-A meetings and healing services, said Rev. Sam Ferguson, TFCA’s current rector.

“To those hurt by Taylor’s actions, and to those hurt because the church fell short in seeing you and coming to your aid in subsequent years, I am profoundly sorry,” Ferguson wrote. “This church failed you, and I failed you. I ask your forgiveness.”

From Illinois to Virginia to Georgia

In the 1980s, Taylor worked as a youth minister at Winnetka Bible Church in suburban Chicago, the report stated. The report listed no allegations there and the church did not respond when TRR reached out.

In 1989, TFCA Rector John Yates urged Taylor to apply for the youth director position at TFCA. Taylor became Yates’ protégé, the report found, with “very little oversight or pushback.”

Taylor grew the Cornerstone youth program at TFCA to 500 kids by discipling students, often in one-on-one “Coke dates.” Taylor also frequently took boys on overnight trips, a violation of church policy at that time. Twice on these trips, he shared a bed with boys he sexually abused, the report stated. Taylor groomed more than a dozen more under the guise of discipling boys through struggles with lust, the report states.

In 1999, Taylor moved into adult ministry at TFCA. Then in 2002, he left TFCA for a youth ministry job in Atlanta with The Church of the Apostles.

church of the apostles
The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: social media)

In 2004, The Church of the Apostles learned of “inappropriate conduct” by Taylor and asked Taylor to leave, the report stated.

The Church of the Apostles’ attorney Randy Evans told TRR that Taylor’s “inappropriate” conduct was unrelated to any child sexual abuse claims. Rather, he said Taylor wasn’t willing to follow the church’s strict zero-tolerance guidelines for employees.

One witness told the investigator that he’d heard Taylor threatened to sue Church of the Apostles, so the church entered into a non-disparagement agreement with him.

Evans said staff were instructed to answer “it is not our policy to discuss former staff members” if anyone called for a reference for Taylor.

However, that’s not what Christ Church of Atlanta was told when it checked Taylor’s references, the report stated. Christ Church went on to hire Taylor as a youth minister but now feels it was “misled.”

Evans said because of the TFCA investigation, The Church of the Apostles has contacted families whose kids were in Taylor’s youth program to see if any had been abused. None so far have reported abuse, Evans said.

church apostles
The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: social media)

Disclosures of abuse

TFCA leaders didn’t know about the abuse while it was happening in the 1990s, the investigator determined. And The Church of the Apostles “closely guarded” the news of the inappropriate conduct they found in 2004, the report said. In late 2004 or 2005, someone from The Church of the Apostles “strongly urged” Yates not to preach at Taylor’s ordination.    

However, in 2007, a former TFCA student in his 20s told Yates that Taylor had abused him when he was a minor.

Yates didn’t investigate or report the matter to law enforcement because he didn’t believe the victim wanted him to. Virginia mandates reporting alleged child abuse only while victims are still minors.

Yates helped the victim get counseling, informed the church’s Executive Committee, confronted Taylor, and made a vague appeal in a sermon to anyone who had been abused to come forward. Yates also reached out to several other youth group members, the report found.

john yates TFCA
Rev. John Yates preaches at The Falls Church Anglican in 2013. (Photo: Facebook)

Yates also told Christ Church of Atlanta about the allegation. In response, the church barred Taylor from access to kids and moved him to another ministry. Two years later, Christ Church fired Taylor because he violated the bar on children’s ministry, the report stated.

In 2021, Yates, by then retired, received a letter from parents whose son had told them he struggled with alcohol addiction because Taylor had abused him. Their son died of the addiction before the parents could finish the letter.

Yates told current TFCA Rector Sam Ferguson and TFCA’s executive committee about the alleged abuse. But the leaders couldn’t decide whether to investigate or to inform other parents, the report says.

In 2023, the frustrated parents contacted the new DOMA bishop, who then commissioned the Isler Dare investigation. TFCA gave Isler Dare “unfettered” access to witnesses and documents, Isler wrote in the report.

Isler Dare represents companies in employment matters like discrimination and harassment claims and advises on HR matters. But Isler, the attorney investigator, told TRR that church leaders were not permitted to edit the report and asked him to reveal the truth.

Isler wrote in his report that a key finding was the way Taylor’s success in youth ministry “blurred” the vision of church leaders.

“The recommendation here is simple,” the report stated. “Even the Church’s most successful leaders need to be asked hard questions, for the benefit of the leader’s own sanctification, as well as for the benefit and protection of those to whom they seek to minister.”

Rebecca Hopkins is a journalist based in Colorado.

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5 Responses

  1. The report probably says more, but it occurs to me that the recommendation to ask leaders hard questions does not go remotely far enough. Child abusers know how to hide what they do. Asking them questions isn’t going to reveal much.

  2. BTW, Church of the Apostles is the church headed by Michael Youssef (of Leading the Way fame).

  3. The names that are not in the report (ExCom) but need to be held accountable, with Jeff Taylor and John Yates, because they are still in leadership positions at TFCA:

    Scott Ward – Chancellor 2007-present
    Linda Christie – Junior Warden 2021 (current Vestry member)
    Chris Roth – Senior Warden 2021 (current Vestry member)

    Tom Wilson and Carol Jackson were the wardens in 2007. Carol lives in Charleston area, and I’m not sure where Tom Wilson is now.

    1. I wonder when Porter Taylor became estranged from his father, and what he knew- because I specifically remember him being at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in probably 2010 or 11, being prayed over by his in- laws, who proclaimed they had just torn down deep generational curses that had something to do with Porter’s family. Curious. That’s a long time to know something and stay silent.

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