Woodstock First Baptist Church suspends Johnny Hunt from role

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Pastor Jeremy Morton has officially suspended Johnny Hunt’s role in the church and described the proactive steps the FBCW has taken to address abuse.

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — A popular church pastor has been suspended from his post following allegations of abuse.

In a letter to the congregation of First Baptist Church of Woodstock on Friday, Pastor Jeremy Morton formally suspended Johnny Hunt’s role in the church and outlined the proactive steps the FBCW has taken to address abuse.

These steps begin with training employees and staff on “social awareness” and training related to preventing and reporting abuse.

Additionally, Morton wrote that FBCW will also consult with an outside legal firm to review and revise its current sexual abuse and mandatory reporting policies.

“Our goal is for our employees to have the assurance and confidence that we are doing everything we reasonably can in every facet of every policy,” the letter states.

RELATED: Report describes alleged abuse cases linked to Baptist churches, including in Georgia

In the second part of the letter, Morton said it was in the interest of the FBCW to suspend Johnny Hunt’s role as Pastor Emeritus in the church.

“While we are eternally grateful for the supernatural work of God over the past 30 years at FBCW, we believe this decision aligns with our biblical theology as a church regarding blameless spiritual leaders,” wrote Morton.

This title is given to those who retire as an honor for their years of service. It can often include advisory and leadership roles.

The suspension comes a week after Hunt sent a letter to his former church denying abuse allegations against him but apologizing for the “brief but inappropriate encounter” he had with his accuser. He maintains that the meeting was consensual.

Last week, the Southern Baptist Convention‘s executive committee held a virtual meeting to endorse recommendations from the sexual abuse task force for the megachurch to better respond to allegations of sexual abuse. They include hiring qualified personnel or independent contractors to receive reports of abuse, allocating $3 million from the budget to pay for reforms, and creating a “Ministry Check” website to maintain a “record of pastors, denominational workers, ministry employees and volunteers who have at all times been credibly accused of sexual abuse.”

Next week, the SBC is expected to address the full report from Guidepost Solutions at its 2022 annual meeting and pastors conference. At that time, the messengers will vote on whether to begin implementing these recommendations over the next three years.

However, they have begun to take steps to alleviate reporting issues when it comes to sexual abuse and assault within the church.

After the investigation, the company released its report last month. SBC has established a permanent hotline where church members can report cases of abuse to Guidepost Solutions. Survivors will then be put in touch with a lawyer and informed of treatment options.

People can reach the hotline at 202-864-5578 or email [email protected]

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