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SBC DIGEST: Three former church leaders arrested, association leader resigns

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.

Baptist association director resigns, admits ‘inappropriate behavior’

By Pathway Staff

MOBERLY, Mo. (BP) – Mark Carter resigned as director of missions for the Crossroads Baptist Association this month after confessing to inappropriate behavior several years ago toward a then-teenage girl.

The Missouri Baptist Convention released the following comment after hearing news of Carter’s resignation:

“It grieves us to learn that a Baptist director of missions in central Missouri has engaged in inappropriate behavior toward a young person – specifically, texting, emails, and inappropriate touching. When confronted with his actions, he admitted the accusations were true and resigned.

“Leaders of the Crossroads Baptist Association continue to love and minister to the young person and others impacted by this sin. Further, we join the association in reminding all churches to report any troubling or offensive conduct by anyone at church or related activities. This includes notifying appropriate local and state authorities immediately.

“We join the association’s leaders in gratitude that the young person came forward, and in grieving the harm caused by leader’s sin. We also stand with the churches of the association in stating clearly that inappropriate behavior of any kind is not tolerated and will be addressed immediately, including the immediate reporting to all appropriate authorities.

“We know that all sin grieves the heart of God. He has given His followers responsibility for ensuring that our churches are the safest places for people and families to gather and worship.”

Former Florida pastor arrested for child molestation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) – Jeffrey Bedwell, former campus pastor of the Southside campus of Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, Fla., was arrested July 8 for allegedly grooming and molesting a minor for several years while she was a teenager, The Florida Times-Union reported.

According to an arrest report obtained by the First Coast News, Bedwell, 38, began to groom the girl through texts and Snapchat when she was 13. Within a year, the two were sending digital pictures to one another and he allegedly began sexually assaulting her. The report said the assault continued until she was 17.

Chets Creek Senior Pastor Spike Hogan released the following statement to First Coast News:

“Chets Creek was shocked and devastated to learn of the charges made against a former member of its staff. Jeff Bedwell’s employment with the church was terminated more than two years ago for issues unrelated to the current charges now made against him. During his time with Chets, he was subjected to the same thorough vetting and background check process that we require of all leaders, and there was no hint of criminal activity. Had we learned of, or had any reason to believe there was wrongdoing, we would have reported it to law enforcement immediately. With his recent arrest, we will cooperate with law enforcement in any way we can as they conduct their investigation.”

Former youth leader arrested a third time

PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) – David Nims, a former Florida youth director arrested twice in the last six weeks, was arrested again July 16 after investigators discovered videos secretly recorded in a church restroom, the New York Daily News reported.

David Nims, 37, was arrested June 7 by the Escambia County Sheriff’s department after a hidden camera was discovered in a bathroom at Calvary Baptist Church. After deputies searched his home, he was arrested again June 11 and charged with possession of child pornography.

Nims was a volunteer youth director, according to the Pensacola News Journal, which also reported that according to the initial arrest report, Nims “often worked with children ranging in age from infants to those in elementary school.”

After the arrest on one count of video voyeurism, Nims was released from jail on $10,000 bond. But he was arrested again June 11 after a search warrant of his home found two hard drives with “a little over 100” images of child pornography, according to the Pensacola News Journal. He was released again on June 14.

The new video footage, found on SD cards in Nims’ pocket, shows at least eight people filmed in the restroom without their knowledge, the News Journal reported. At least three videos depict juveniles.

Former youth leader arrested for aggravated molestation

CASSVILLE, Ga. (BP) – Christopher Matthew Codding, 41, of Kingston, Ga., was arrested Tuesday (July 20) on two counts of aggravated molestation, according to WRGA News in Rome, Ga.

According to the arrest report, Codding forcibly performed sodomy on a victim under 12 years of age, WRGA reported. The incident took place between 2014 and 2017. He is also charged with a similar incident, occurring between 2010 and 2013.

Codding, a former youth lay leader at Cassville (Ga.) Baptist Church, was featured last year in a story in Baptist Press for his work as a healthcare professional treating COVID-19 patients at a Maryland hospital.


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