Fairview Baptist Church furloughs Pastor Cory Wall over stickers

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A 35-year-old South Carolina church pastor has been placed on administrative leave after apparently handing out stickers to students that read “I (heart) hot young pastors”.

The stickers attracted attention online after appearing in a social media post from someone who claimed their 14-year-old sister received the sticker from the pastor.

Fairview Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Greer, South Carolina, announced Sunday that Cory Wall has been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership while he conducts an investigation.

“Our student pastor, Cory Wall, acknowledges that he made a bad decision and mistake in making available a sticker that was offensive to some,” reads a message from the church staff and deacon officer team. on its website and Facebook page.

The post did not describe the stickers Wall had made available. Fairview could not immediately be reached for comment.

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As of Monday morning, Wall no longer appeared alongside church staff on the Fairview website, where he was listed as a student pastor as recently as Friday.

“We take this matter very seriously and want to be proactive as we move forward. Our primary goal is to always make our campus a safe place for all who attend,” the church statement read.

The original social media post, which blurred the name of the church involved, claimed that a youth pastor gave out “i (heart) hot youth pastors” stickers to students during Midweek, the weekly gathering for students. from sixth grade through high school in Fairview, according to the church’s website.

Another social media post purported to show an email exchange between Wall and someone expressing concerns about the distribution of stickers at Midweek.

“We are updating our church-wide database, and I have encouraged children to come see me to get a sticker and update their information,” the email reads. of Wall.

“The sticker was meant to poke fun at the ‘I Love Hot Mom’ culture. In hindsight, the joke was in very bad taste and a mistake on my part. I apologize for their distribution.”

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A number of sexual abuse cases involving youth pastors have made headlines in recent years, and the stickers have touched a collective nerve as churches and denominations around the world, including the Southern Baptist Convention, rely on their handling of abuse cases following the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.

SBC executive committee leaders released a list earlier this year detailing about 700 cases, dating back to the 1960s, of sexual abuse by pastors, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, ministers of music, bus drivers and missionaries, including about 400 linked to Baptist Churches south of Alaska to Alabama.

In 2018, Jules Woodson, a prominent advocate for sexual abuse survivors, helped spark reform within the SBC by publicly sharing his story of abuse by his former youth pastor.

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