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Illinois church staff member dismissed during criminal investigation

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, entities, institutions or leaders of which we are made aware.

MARION, Ill. (BP) — The executive pastor of Cornerstone Church in Marion was dismissed after allegations of inappropriate behavior involving church members who were under age 18 at the time. The allegations were brought to the church leadership team late last week. After an investigation by the elders and the engagement of local law enforcement, Tivo McCrary was officially dismissed on Aug. 21.

In a public statement posted on its website, the church said an employment firm had conducted background checks on McCrary before he joined the Cornerstone staff in 2019. The church expressed concern for victims and their families. They are also listening to any further input from the congregation about possible allegations.

Local law enforcement in Marion is conducting its own investigation that could result in criminal charges.

The church is pastored by Michael Nave, who is currently serving as president of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

The full text of the church’s statement follows:

“The Leadership of Cornerstone Church is devastated to confirm allegations of moral failure in one of its senior staff members. On Friday, evidence was provided of sins committed by Executive Pastor Tivo McCrary against several teenage members of the congregation. Leadership took swift action to remove him from the building, and he was terminated upon the findings of our preliminary investigation. Law enforcement is now investigating and leadership is cooperating fully. Leadership had absolutely no previous indications of inappropriate behavior. McCrary’s background checks were clear and employment references completely favorable. We are now listening to our church family and reviewing our abuse prevention and screening processes. Our chief concern is to support the healing journey of those affected by McCrary’s sinful behavior.”

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.

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