Editor’s Note: In support of the sixth strategic action of Vision 2025 adopted by messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, Baptist Press will continue to report every instance of sexual abuse related to Southern Baptist churches or leaders of which we are made aware.
Updated: This story has been updated to include new information concerning the investigation, Hord’s bond and contact information for the Bentonville Police Department.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (BP) – Keenan Hord, 32, was arrested Thursday (Aug. 25) for sexual indecency with a child. Hord has served on the staffs of at least two Southern Baptist churches, most recently First Baptist Bentonville, where he joined the staff in 2016 and became student pastor in 2018. The church said in a statement Friday (Aug. 26) that the allegations came after Hord’s employment there had ended.
A warrant for his arrest was issued Tuesday (Aug. 23) after First Baptist Bentonville made a report Aug. 19 to the Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline.
Investigators believe there could be up to 30 or more victims, according to KTHV-TV.
“We have been devastated to learn that a former employee of our church has been credibly accused of abusing adolescents during his tenure at our church.,” First Baptist Bentonville said in a statement to Baptist Press. “While these accusations did not come to light until after his employment ended, when we learned of them we immediately contacted our local authorities, made a report to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline, and continue to fully support the ongoing law enforcement investigation.”
J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, told Baptist Press in written comments he was “grieved and deeply saddened” by the allegations.
“Every child deserves to be safe at church and deeply valued as a wonderful person made in God’s image,” Tucker said.
Hord also served on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., from 2011-2016. He served first as an intern and then became student pastor of Bellevue’s Arlington, Tenn., campus in 2014.
At this time, there are no reports of any criminal activity during Hord’s time at Bellevue. Still, the Memphis-area church released a statement in an email to members, urging them to report any information regarding criminal activity to local police.
“The safety of our children remains our top priority,” the Bellevue email said. “In response to this new information, Bellevue is launching a thorough, internal review. The findings of the review will be shared after it is completed.”
Bellevue then provided contact information for members with questions or in need of counseling, which the church offered to provide at its own expense.
In its statement to BP, FBC Bentonville said, “We are ministering to the survivors and their families who demonstrated incredible courage in coming forward. We are praying for God’s perfect peace for those who have been harmed and God’s justice for the abuse of His people.”
Commenting on the church’s actions, Tucker said, “By all accounts, it appears that First Baptist Church, Bentonville, responded immediately and decisively to properly handle to this heartbreaking situation.”
Hord is being held in the Benton County jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
Bentonville Police urge anyone with information on the case to call the Criminal Investigation Division at 479- 271-3170.
If you are/have been a victim of sexual abuse or suspect sexual abuse by a pastor, staff member or member of a Southern Baptist church or entity, please reach out for help at 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. All calls are confidential.