03 Key People and Organizations

  • Key Advocates and Social Media Links
  • Key Advocacy Websites
  • Main People, Churches, and Agencies Involved

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Key Advocates and Social Media Links

Twitter Campaign Hashtag: #pbcsilentnomore

Christa Brown:

Amy Smith:

Chris Tynes:

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Key Advocacy Websites

PBC Silent No More / People Against Prestonwood’s Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse. Facebook page of Chris Tynes, established March 6, 2013. “This page is dedicated to tracking and promoting the efforts by those seeking to hold Prestonwood accountable for past allegations of sexual abuse against minors.” It had over 720 views in its first 72 hours, and within four days it already had over 225 followers on Facebook.

SNAP Network – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (and other clergy). According to the About page, SNAP was formed in 1988 for support and advocacy by survivors of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests. “Today SNAP is the largest, oldest and most active self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims, whether assaulted by ministers, priests, nuns or rabbis. SNAP is a confidential, safe place for wounded men and women to be heard, supported and healed. SNAP works tirelessly to achieve two goals: to heal the wounded and to protect the vulnerable. The organization has more than 10,000 members and support groups meet in over 60 cities across the U.S. and the world.”

Stop Baptist Predators – official website, with Christa Brown’s blog at Stop Baptist Predators. “This blog is intended mainly for clergy abuse survivors and those who seek information about Baptist clergy sex abuse.” Christa Brown is author of This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. [Publication date: June 1, 2009. “In this groundbreaking memoir and exposé, Christa Brown tells the story of clergy sex abuse and cover-ups in the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. As she shares her journey from trusting church girl to tenacious advocate for children’s safety, Brown shines a light on the patterns of preacher-predators and the collusion of evangelical leaders. This Little Light speaks of the unspeakable, and in doing so, testifies to the transformative power of truth-telling.”] She blogs at Stop Baptist Predators.”

Watch Keep. Blog of Amy Smith, who is “Houston leader for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (and other clergy). Protect the vulnerable. Heal the wounded. Prevent the abuse. The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.” Ms. Smith began this blog in April of 2010, but dealt with other topics until over a year later. Then she began detailing her advocacy experiences in pursuing justice for victims of John Langworthy and to shine light into the darkness of actions and inactions of leaders at Prestonwood Baptist Church. A very important first article on PBC appeared on October 13, 2011: Memories Don’t Know Time: Shining the Light on Child Sexual Abuse. In it, Ms. Smith documents the events and evidence in the case of John Langworthy/Prestonwood Baptist Church, for approximately the previous year, beginning in August 2010. She also offers a range of practical help and recovery resources for survivors of abuse.

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Main People, Churches, and Agencies Involved

ABBREVIATIONS

  • MHBC – Morrison Heights Baptist Church (Clinton, MS)
  • PBC – Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX)
  • SBC – Southern Baptist Convention

PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION REFERENCES

The following articles are used throughout the section on Main People, Churches, and Agencies Involved to document who these individuals or entities are, and describe their roles in the Prestonwood/Langworthy situation. For extensive documentation and descriptions, see Page 06 Reader’s Guide and Bibliography. These same articles are used there as the core set of sources to understanding a historical overview of the situation, and the other sections offer as complete a listing of directly related articles as we’ve been able to locate.

Prestonwood saga shows clergy abuse database is overdue, by Christa Brown, Associated Baptist Press (August 19, 2011). This gives an important historical framework of Prestonwood/Langworthy details, plus explains why, as Ms. Brown states, “a systemic problem requires a systemic solution” – like a registry of ministers who have been sexual predators. Note: There are two broken links in this editorial. Because they are crucial to this overview and timeline of events, they are restored here: (1) Paragraph #2: “The danger was revealed most recently in news about a former minister of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.” (2) Paragraph #3: “ When this ‘disturbing revelation’ made headlines, Prestonwood’s executive pastor, Mike Buster, acknowledged that, in 1989, Prestonwood had received an allegation that Langworthy ‘acted inappropriately with a teenage student.’” (Shortened below to: Prestonwood saga.)

Does the SBC Fear Women Pastors More Than The Molestation of Children? by Dee Parsons, The Wartburg Watch (August 12, 2011). This historical overview and analysis also catalogs leftover core questions that are still being asked today because of PBC’s apparent failure to report.

  • It includes an important quote from Wade Burleson, Southern Baptist Convention pastor and advocate of an SBC sexual predators registry and other elements for a “systems response” to sexual abuse and prevention. The link is broken to Pastor Burleson’s original post from which the quote was drawn. However, that August 10, 2011, post is available on the internet archive Wayback Machine: Full Circle: Why the SBC Child Predator Database Is Needed Now More Than Ever.

Memories Don’t Know Time: Shining the Light on Child Sexual Abuse, by Amy Smith, Watch Keep (October 13, 2011). In this key article, Ms. Smith documents the events and evidence in the case of John Langworthy/Prestonwood Baptist Church, for approximately the previous year, beginning in August 2010. If it had not been for her personal pursuit of justice in this case, it’s unlikely Mr. Langworthy would have been stopped anytime soon. She also offers a range of practical help and recovery resources for survivors of abuse. (Shortened below to: Memories Don’t Know Time.)

Prestonwood Baptist vs. Chris Tynes: Something is Very Wrong! by Dee Parsons (March 8, 2013). This offers a historical overview, plus information on emerging issues that brings things up to date. It also contains Ms. Parsons’ critical analysis of ongoing questions about the Prestonwood/Langworthy situation, and how PBC treats questioners and reporters. ((Shortened below to: Something is Very Wrong.)

Plano/Dallas, Texas ~ Prestonwood Baptist Church

John Langworthy. Held a position in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1980s (approximately 1980-1984). Years later (2011), he confessed to sexual indiscretions with five minor males. Mr. Langworthy was a youth music minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and was on staff for about four or five years, approximately 1984 or 1985 to summer of 1989. In his 2011 confession, he publicly acknowledged sexual indiscretions with one minor male from PBC. After he was fired by PBC (and apparently not reported to the police), he was youth music minister at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi (approximately 1989-2011), and choir director at Clinton High School.

Amy Smith. Former Prestonwood Baptist Church staff member when she was a college intern in 1989, at age 20. She was friends was some of John Langworthy’s reputed victims from PBC. She is local leader for the Houston, Texas, branch of the non-profit organization, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). A former co-worker with John Langworthy, she attempted for over a year to bring allegations to light, during 2010-2011. “She says [Langworthy] has admitted only to cases in which he was directly confronted and denies other credible accusations.” (Abuse confession) At least three of Langworthy’s alleged victims have shared their story with her – one from Mississippi, two from Prestonwood (Disturbing Revelations).

  • Victim #1 – Prestonwood. Alleges abuse included physical contact.
  • Victim #2 – Prestonwood. Alleges abuse included physical contact, and occurred over the course of 15 months.
  • Victim #3 – Mississippi. Alleges that “Langworthy would regularly spend the night with teenage boys, and was once in the same bed with him.” The victim states: “I was laying on my back and was awakened by feeling his hand on my stomach,” the alleged victim said. “Once I was on my stomach, he tried to force his hand under my stomach or right along my waistband.”

Prestonwood Baptist Church. A prominent Southern Baptist Convention church in Plano, Texas, now with multiple campuses in the Dallas/Plano area. John Langworthy served on staff as youth music minister from approximately 1984-1989, and this church figures prominently into the story. They have been challenged over the years with alleged negligence and cover-up related to Mr. Langworthy’s sexual molestation of minor males there. “With weekly attendance of more than 14,000, Prestonwood is the fifth-largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention. Its pastor, Jack Graham, who came to Prestonwood in 1989 shortly before Langworthy left, was SBC president 2002-2004.” (Abuse cover-up alleged at SBC church, by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press, January 28, 2013.)

  • Dr. Jack Graham, Pastor. Had recently been named as Prestonwood’s head pastor at the time John Langworthy’s alleged abuse was discovered. To date, I have not found any direct quote comments by Dr. Graham concerning the Langworthy case, although he has outright declined to comment on occasions. (Disturbing Revelations)
  • Mike Buster, Executive Pastor. Gave press statement on behalf of Prestonwood in August 2011 after John Langworthy publicly confessed to having victimized one male minor while on staff at Prestonwood. (Disturbing Revelations)
  • Neal Jeffrey, Associate Pastor of Pastoral and Preaching Ministries, “was the youth minister at the time of John Langworthy’s firing in 1989 due to credible allegations of sexual abuse by several boys.” (Memories Don’t Know Time.)
  • Ben Lovvorn, Director of Administration (so listed in the WFAA news report of March 14, 2013, though not listed on the PBC website in the leadership directory at the time of this compilation). He is apparently now a full-time lawyer on staff with PBC, according to the State Bar of Texas, and has also worked with the Dallas law firm of Bell Nunnally & Martin, LLP.

Plano/Dallas, Texas ~ Other Involved Parties

Sherry LeFils, a former Dallas County probation officer assigned to work with sex offenders, she helps hold accountable those who harm children. She worked in her role there for 10 years, and has noted that “it generally takes six to 15 years” for children who were abused to break their silence about what happened to them.

Chris Tynes, member of Prestonwood Baptist Church since 1998, who found out in February 2013 about unresolved allegations regarding how church leaders handled the situation with John Langworthy. When he sought to find out from PBC leadership what had happened, it led to a confrontation with church security guards. He was also barred from ever setting foot on the PBC campus again. After this, Chris set up a Facebook page on March 6, 2013: People Against Prestonwood’s Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse, which officially changed to PBC Silent No More on March 16, 2013.

Clinton, Mississippi ~ Church, School, Court

Morrison Heights Baptist Church. The church in Clinton, Mississippi, where John Langworthy served on staff after leaving Texas in 1989, and which figures prominently into the story of alleged negligence and cover-up.

  • Dr. Greg Belser, Senior Pastor.
  • Philip Gunn, Elder. Philip Gunn is also a lawyer for the church and a Mississippi state representative. Email shows Gunn’s role in sex abuse case, WJTV, 11/29/11 (“Gunn would not allow prosecutors to question church leaders about what they know about John Langworthy’s case” … and he “tried to take steps to keep abuse allegations against Langworthy silent.”)

Clinton Public Schools in Clinton, Mississippi, is where John Langworthy worked on staff as choir director at Clinton High School.

Bill Gowan, Hinds County (Jackson, Mississippi) Circuit Court Judge for the criminal trial of John Langworthy.

National Advocates for Systems Responses to Sexual Predators in the Southern Baptist Convention

Christa Brown, Advocate of systems solutions for the Southern Baptist Convention (and beyond) at Stop Baptist Predators, and Author of This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.

Wade Burleson, Pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma.

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