Matt Chandler Defends Church’s Response to Sexual Abuse Allegations by Former Members, Says ‘We Are an Imperfect Church With Imperfect People’

Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Texas is standing by his church’s response to recent allegations from former members that the church mishandled the sexual abuse of their underage daughter by one of the church’s former pastors nearly seven years ago.

“We are an imperfect church with imperfect people,” Chandler said in a video clip shared with The Christian Post from the Baptist 21 luncheon held during a break in the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, Tuesday.

“I make mistakes. I am painfully aware of my limitations, of the weaknesses of the Village Church, of our failures. They are numerous. I don’t think I’m naïve to that. But when it comes to reporting as soon as we had heard, taking our cues from the detective and family, I’m not sure what we could have done different,” he added.

Chandler and his church could soon be facing a lawsuit after former Village Church members Christi Braggs and her husband, Matt, alleged in a report in The New York Times that fired Village Church children’s minister Matthew Tonne sexually abused their daughter when she was about 11 at a church camp in 2012.

The New York Times had reached out to Chandler about the allegations prior to the publication of the report but did not hear from the pastor.

During the luncheon on Tuesday, Chandler revealed that he decided to break a sabbatical to respond to the growing controversy partly because he did not want the efforts of the SBC to deal with its internal sexual abuse crisis to “lose momentum.”

“More than I want to interact with The New York Times article, I mean I’m here because I don’t want what we’re trying to do to lose momentum … my bloodline has sexual abuse in it. I’ve just seen the outright devastation, the generational devastation that that causes. And so because I have spoken so aggressively about this subject I wanted to be able to come to talk about what we’ve learned and what happened,” he said.

Braggs told The New York Times that she was getting ready for a family weekend at a lake with friends in February 2018 when her daughter, who is now an adult, asked to talk to her alone.

Her daughter then recounted how six years earlier, while she was at the church camp she woke up in the girls’ room to some of her undergarments pulled down. A man, whom she did not name, was sitting on her bed, touching her. He left when a light went on in the bathroom.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair