Abuse Arrest Prompts Resignation of Alabama Baptist Music Minister
Friday, March 14, 2008 12:00 am
A prominent Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in Alabama has dismissed a popular minister of music under arrest on charges of child abuse and third-degree sex offense stemming from events alleged to have occurred several years ago in Maryland.
Police in Hoover, Ala., arrested Timothy Mann, 46, at his home Thursday morning, the Birmingham News reported Friday. Dennis Foust, pastor of Shades Crest Baptist Church in Birmingham, followed with a statement reporting that Mann's employment as the church's minister of music ended March 8, when he made church leaders aware of charges pending against him in Gaithersburg, Md.
Mann, minister of music at Shades Crest Baptist Church since 2001, was pastor of music and worship at First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg, Md., for seven years beginning in 1991. In between he was minister of music at First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Foust called charges against Mann "shocking" and a reminder that "righteousness and evil are present in each and every human being." Foust said the church performed a full background check on Mann before hiring him in 2001 and there was no criminal record, because the warrant for his arrest was issued only in the last few days.
Foust said he is not aware of any illegal sexual misconduct by Mann while serving at Shades Crest, but he offered conversation and counseling to any church members "who have been adversely affected by this alleged breach of trust."
"We will continue to make every effort to provide a credible and trustworthy congregational climate so anyone in our community who has ever experienced abuse of any kind can come forward knowing they will receive immediate and comprehensive help," Foust said. "This includes full cooperation with law enforcement authorities in investigations related to any and all allegations of abuse."
Shades Crest Baptist Church is a flagship church in the Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Mann a rising star. Known for his musical talent and leadership, Mann has contributed to music and youth programs in CBF churches. His wife, Ann Carol, was one of the first graduates of Beeson Divinity School. They have two children.
According to the Birmingham News, Mann was being taken to Jefferson County Jail before being extradited to Maryland.
Last year Alabama CBF adopted a policy for reporting sexual abuse by clergy that a victim advocacy group hailed as a model of other Baptist bodies.
"I feel a deep sadness for what's happened, for the young person who has been hurt and for the people of Shades Crest Baptist Church," said Alabama CBF Coordinator Brent McDougal. "I hope that the people connected to Alabama CBF will join Shades Crest in praying for all the victims and families caught up in sexual abuse. I also hope that through what has happened there can be greater awareness and advocacy on behalf of those who have been sexually abused by a minister."
Shades Crest isn't the only Baptist church dealing with the issue. According to media in northwest Arkansas, Keith Daniel Kiger, 31, former youth minister at First Baptist Church in Winslow, Ark., was arrested Wednesday on a felony charge of first-degree sexual assault allegedly involving a 14-year-old girl. Kiger reportedly was with First Baptist Church about four-and-a-half years before leaving in August to move to Grace Baptist Fellowship Church in Brentwood, Ark.
EthicsDaily.com has reported more than 75 stories about the problem of sexual abuse by Baptist ministers since September 2006. The Southern Baptist Convention, America's second-largest faith group, is studying a motion referred from last year's annual meeting about feasibility of a denomination-wide database of clergy sex offenders.
A native of New Orleans, Mann graduated from Baylor University in 1983 and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1987. He has served in national leadership roles through music ministry, including serving as a consultant for Baptist state conventions and the Chinese Church Music Institute in California.
He is also active in Youth Choirs, Inc., also known as YouthCUE, an interdenominational network promoting youth-choir ministry. He was worship leader at the CBF General Assembly in Birmingham in 2004.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.