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SC Church Places Youth Pastor On Leave After ‘I ♥ Hot Youth Pastors’ Sticker Incident

By Josh Shepherd
cory wall youth pastor SC church
Cory Wall, student pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, South Carolina, has been placed on leave after he distributed stickers that say “I (Heart) Hot Youth Pastors” to church youth. (Photos: FBC / Social media screenshot)

A Southern Baptist church in South Carolina has placed its youth pastor on administrative leave and is investigating an incident last week where the pastor handed out stickers to teens saying, “I ♥ Hot Youth Pastors.”

The action comes after reports of the incident were posted online and prompted major backlash.

On Sunday, Eddie Leopard, lead pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, told his congregation that their student pastor, 35-year-old Cory Wall, had made a “poor decision” to distribute to the church’s youth “a sticker that offended some people.”

Leopard addressed the incident in a clip posted anonymously online, which apparently has been edited from the service video. Leopard’s comments were similar to a statement the church posted Saturday on Instagram.  

Leopard prefaced his brief statement by noting that many in the church “may have heard and are aware” of the incident. 

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“I wanted you to be first to hear, that’s only right,” said the lead pastor. “Any decision made by the leadership of the church should be shared by the church—not with the media, and certainly not on social media.”

youth pastor SC church
On October 9, 2022, Eddie Leopard, lead pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, SC, speaks to congregants. (Video screengrab)

Leopard continued: “Cory has been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership responsibilities while this situation is being investigated.”

According to the pastor and church leaders, the investigation will be “thorough and comprehensive.” However, the church did not specify who would conduct the investigation.

Attorney Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian of BozLaw, a law firm that represents abuse victims in civil lawsuits, told The Roys Report that Leopard’s response raised some red flags.

“The way I was hearing it, the fact that it ‘offended some people’ seems to be the only reason they are investigating this,” Tchividjian said. “When a person who has been handed responsibility from the church to oversee care and discipleship of minors is handing out a sticker (like this), it shows horrible discernment and judgment—at the very best.” 

Tchividjian added that investigations like these should be conducted by an independent third-party that understands abuse issues.

The main concern is whether Wall has a history of this behavior, Tchividjian said, though he noted other questions like: “Did (Wall) have these made? Not that I’ve been looking, but I’ve never seen these stickers for sale anywhere.”

According to a post on the church’s Instagram account, Wall has a master’s degree from Southeastern Theological Seminary and “has spent the last 14 years serving local churches in North and South Carolina in the areas of students and college.”

Boz Tchividian
Attorney Boz Tchividjian (Source: Video Screengrab)

“Has (Wall) ever had issues before? We just don’t know,” Tchividjian said. “We’re left with their plans to ‘do an investigation’ and that’s about it. This needs to be much more defined to the public than it has been so far.”

Tchividjian also said Pastor Leopard’s comments about the media and social media are a “concerning” way to frame what happened.

“He comes across seemingly irritated at social media, rather than thanking social media for informing him of something so troubling about one of his pastors,” Tchividjian said.

The audio clip posted online concludes with a prayer from Leopard.

“God, I pray for Cory, I pray for those offended . . . Father, we ask for your direction, your wisdom, and your guidance. Lord, we know you will bring good out of everything, and we trust in you.”

Fairview Baptist is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which has been embroiled in scandal concerning the coverup of sex abuse at SBC churches. An independent report by Guidepost Solutions found that, for decades, SBC leaders protected sexual abusers and mistreated their victims

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.



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10 thoughts on “SC Church Places Youth Pastor On Leave After ‘I ♥ Hot Youth Pastors’ Sticker Incident”

  1. Yeah. This very much reads as “we’re taking this action because people are mad,” rather than “we understand why this is a problem, and we’re taking it seriously because we’re committed to protecting kids.”

    Tone deaf at best.

    I don’t see any evidence that this church understands any of the issues surrounding grooming or sexual abuse. Nor do I see evidence that they’re willing or able to actually address either this specific incident or the wider risks to vulnerable people in their congregation.

  2. Ok, the only thing I can say is this. The church should be the ones most “offended” by this. They should be leading the congregation through this atrocity, not minimizing what happened by calling it “offensive”.

  3. Inadequate on so many levels.
    “Some people were offended.
    This is not a matter of some PEOPLE being offended, but more so an offense against God.
    And I would never like to criticize someone’s prayer but in this case he is praying for Cory as well as the people who were offended in one breath. Yes Corey needs prayer, but the offended ones are showing a correct response. Be thankful for them that they raised the alarms and pray they continue to find offense when someone puts their young in harm’s way.
    My prayers are for the students that they will not be negatively impacted in their spiritual journey by this person

  4. I’ll be watching this and no doubt, so will the SBC. Thank you for shining a light on this, Julie.

    The best thing is to give Cory Wall the opportunity to resign and apologize as no longer having the confidence of parents and youth in his interactions with the kids.

    If Fairview keeps him, they likely won’t have a youth group. I mean, how is it that you would need someone to watch the youth pastor from committing future boundary violations. AND I would not allow my kid to be contacted by anyone at church on their own social media account. I would expressly say that we as a family do not accept private texts or e-mails EXCEPT to the family e-mail administered by mom or dad or both.

  5. Where does a youth pastor get the idea that this clear sexual innuendo about himself is in any way appropriate? A youth pastor should be expected to spot this narcissistic ‘come on’ at first blink and put it in the trash.

  6. Thank you Boz for stating the obvious. Who produced these stickers? They had to come from somewhere. There was opportunity in the production process to consider if this was an appropriate message to put on a sticker.

  7. Anytime a “heart” symbol is used for any purpose, you should question the motives behind message:

    Matthew 15:18-19
    But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

    Mark 7:20-23
    And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

    Jesus points to our hearts, not satan, for the evil in the world and we would be well served to remember this when looking for a excuse for our sin.

  8. Something else that came to mind is “another Cheezy CHRISTIAN Knockoff”.

    Like all the “Just like [insert mainstream fad here], Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” knockoffs you see all over the place in the Holy Bubble. Some of them truly awful, most all of them jumping on the bandwagon going “ME TOO!” AFTER the bandwagon jumps the shark.

    Seen the pattern too many times.

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