SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STEVE MORGAN, PASTOR AND NETWORK FOUNDER

Steve Morgan was arrested for aggravated criminal sodomy against a minor

Steve Morgan was arrested in 1987 for allegedly commiting aggravated criminal sodomy against a minor in 1986 while a youth pastor in Johnson County, Kansas (greater Kansas City Metro area)

public notice: STEVE MORGAN, PASTOR AND NETWORK PRESIDENT, WAS ARRESTED FOR AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SODOMY AGAINST A MINOR

Date Posted: July 08, 2022

JUMP TO SECTION:

  1. BACKGROUND
  2. DETAILS OF ARREST FOR AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SODOMY
    • Court Documents
    • Self Disclosure
    • Letter to Network Leaders
    • Steve Morgan's Written Response
    • Local Investigation
    • Vineyard Officials Did Not Know about Steve Morgan's Arrest
    • Action Has Not Been Taken
  3. WHY IS THIS INFORMATION IMPORTANT?
    • Sex Offenders Should Not Be Allowed to Serve as Pastors or Church Leaders
  4. WHAT DO EXPERTS RECOMMEND?
    • What do experts recommend should occur when a sex offender is in the church?
  5. TIMELINE
    • How the information about Steve Morgan's arrest for aggravated criminal sodomy became known to board members and other pastors within Steve Morgan's accountability structure

 


BACKGROUND

Steve Morgan is the Lead Pastor at Joshua Church in Austin, Texas and also the Network Leader/President of a 26 church network with churches throughout the United States, United Kingdom, and Taiwan.

Steve Morgan was arrested in 1987 for allegedly commiting aggravated criminal sodomy against a minor in 1986 while a youth pastor in Johnson County, Kansas (greater Kansas City Metro area). Steve was 22 at the time of the alleged assault. He subsequently disclosed that he committed this alleged sexual assault to a number of people indicated in the sections below. An arrest record was also located to support this disclosure. A person close to the situation has reported that the alleged victim was a 15-year-old male.

 


DETAILS OF ARREST FOR AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SODOMY

A person close to the situation who knew Steve during the time period of the assault, and who is currently very worried about the well-being and safety of current Network church members, emailed the Leaving the Network site details about the alleged sexual assault including the case number, criminal charge, and background details which aligned with other known information.

The case number was K0053903, occurring in Johnson County, Kansas, and the arresting charges were Kansas statutes KSA 21-3506 (Aggravated Criminal Sodomy against a minor) and KSA 21-4501b (Class B Felony). Court cases and arrest records can be searched at the Johnson County Courthouse website. A formal complaint and warrant for Steve’s arrest was obtained via a records request (see attached redacted document). The complaint was dated May 19, 1987 and the complaint states that the crime occurred on or about November, 1986. The complaint includes Steve’s date of birth, full name, and home address in Michigan which confirms it was Steve Morgan from the Network.

 

COPY OF COURT DOCUMENTS OUTLINING THE ARREST AND ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STEVE MORGAN

According to Kansas statutes at the time of the charge, 21-3506 is aggravated criminal sodomy. The legal definition of this charge from the applicable 1983 revision (see attached) to the statute reads as follows:

Sec. 6. K.S.A. 21-3506 is hereby amended to read as follows:

21-3506. Aggravated criminal sodomy is:

  1. Sodomy with a child who is not married to the offender and who is under 16 years of age; 
  2. Causing a child under 16 years of age to engage in sodomy with any person or an animal; or 
  3. sodomy with a person who does not consent to the sod­omy or causing a person, without the person's consent, to engage in sodomy with any person or an animal, under any of the following circumstances:
    1. When the victim is overcome by force or fear; 
    2. When the victim is unconscious or physically powerless;
    3. When the victim is incapable of giving consent because of mental deficiency or disease, which condition was known by the offender or was reasonably apparent to the offender; or
    4. when the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the effect of any alcoholic liquor, narcotic, drug or other substance administered to the victim by the offender, or by another person with the offender's knowledge, unless the victim voluntarily consumes or allows the administration of the substance with knowledge of its nature.

Aggravated criminal sodomy is a class B felony.  

Statute KSA 21-4501b refers to sentencing guidelines at the time. Punishments for convictions of class B felonies were, “...an indeterminate term of imprisonment, the minimum of which shall be fixed by the court at not less than five years nor more than 15 years and the maximum of which shall be fixed by the court at not less than 20 years nor more than life.”

According to court records, after Steve Morgan's failure to make an appearance in court, and after a bench warrant for Steve's arrest was reissued, the case was ultimately diverted on July 22, 1987. Steve waived his right to a trial by signing the diversion agreement. Diversion is common in first offense cases, where a court trial and resultant publicity are desired to be avoided, and in situations where the identities of minors are to be protected. Diversion cases usually result in a person who has been accused of a crime being directed into a treatment or care program as an alternative to criminal prosecution and imprisonment. The diversion of this case was corroborated by the tipster and information disclosed by Steve to some church leaders (see "Self Disclosure" section below).

The diversion agreement included the following components:

  1. Steve waived his right to a trial.
  2. The term of the agreement was 36 months.
  3. Steve was required to attend professional counseling in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, until terminated by the counselor.
  4. Steve was ordered to have no contact with his alleged victim.
  5. Steve was responsible for paying for treatment costs for the alleged victim and their family at Steve's own expense.
  6. Steve was ordered to have no involvement with youth organizations for the terms of the agreement.
  7. Steve signed the agreement and his signature was recognizable by people familiar with his signature.

Self disclosure

Steve Morgan self disclosed some details about the alleged assault to several people over a period of many years. At some point prior to 2007, he had told Larry Anderson, James Chidester and Sándor Paull. Larry was an original member of the Board of Overseers at Vine Community Church. James was a member of the Board of Overseers at Bluesky Church, currently serves as an overseer at Joshua Church, and is an employee of the Network as a counselor. Sándor has been a pastor in positions at Vine and Christland Churches and he is also Vice President of the Network Leadership Team.

In June 2007 Steve asked James and Larry to tell Andrew Lumpe some details about the alleged sexual assault. Andrew was an overseer at Blue Sky Church where Steve Morgan was the lead pastor. Larry and James told Andrew that Steve sent them to tell him about some details of the alleged assault as an explanation for Steve’s persistent struggles during which time he was exhibiting a decline in relational and mental functioning that was affecting Steve's ability to perform daily tasks (see Letter to Network Leaders, attached below, for more details on Steve's behavior during this time). In July 2007, Steve spoke directly and briefly to Andrew Lumpe about the alleged sexual assault during a private meeting in his office. He thanked Andrew for listening to the details of the case from Larry and James. Steve then told Andrew he had asked Larry Anderson to conduct a search for the arrest records. He was concerned that someone might be able to obtain the records. Steve told Andrew that Larry found no records and he expressed relief.

In October 2020, Andrew Lumpe was told by Don Carlin, a member at Bluesky Church, that at a pastor’s retreat in September 2020, Steve told all the lead pastors in the Network about the alleged sexual assault, although the details of what was said were not provided.

At this time, it appears a wide variety of Network leaders know about some aspects of the alleged assault. This includes all Network Leadership Team members, all lead pastors, and a few overseers.

 

LETTER TO NETWORK LEADERS INFORMING THEM ABOUT STEVE MORGAN'S SELF-DISCLOSED ALLEGED SEX CRIME

Steve Morgan’s Written Response to a Letter from Andrew Lumpe

In March 2020, Andrew Lumpe decided to leave the Network over the secrecy employed and lack of action from church leaders around Steve Morgan’s alleged sexual assault. On June 10, 2020, Andrew sent a letter (attached) to Steve Morgan indicating that he left Vista Church and the church Network. In this letter, Andrew outlined details of the alleged sexual assault as told to him. Within two hours Steve replied with a written response (attached). In his response, Steve did not deny any of the listed alleged assault details. Instead, Steve apologized to Andrew for not divulging more details. At that time, Steve did not reveal the location or true nature of the criminal charges.

Local Investigation

In 2021, a group of former church pastors, overseers, and staff members who were concerned about the situation initiated an investigation into this matter in an attempt to find any official documentation about Steve Morgan’s disclosed alleged sexual assault.

A private investigator licensed in the state of Michigan was hired to seek information about Steve’s self-disclosed alleged assault. There was no record of the alleged assault located in the state of Michigan. The private investigator indicated that this may be indicative of a diversion and/or plea deal for which records are sealed. The investigator then sought to connect with people at the local Reorganized Latter Day Saints - RLDS (now called Community of Christ) church in which Steve grew up in Michigan. The current pastor serving at the church indicated that he knew Steve Morgan and his family. Steve’s uncle was an elder at the church. He also stated that it was against church policy for a youth leader to engage in sexual acts with a youth group member or minor. A woman who had worked as an administrator at the church for many years, including at the time of the alleged assault, and then served as a pastor some years later, also spoke with the investigator. She indicated that she also knew Steve Morgan and his family as part of this RLDS church during the time he grew up in the community.

After the tip came in to the Leaving The Network site in July 2022, it became apparent that the investigation was focused on the incorrect state. The court records were requested from Johnson County, Kansas, in July 2022.

Vineyard CHURCH OFFICIALS DID NOT KNOW ABOUT STEVE MORGAN'S ARREST WHEN HE WAS ORDAINED AS A PASTOR

Steve Morgan was originally ordained as a pastor with the Vineyard Association in 1995 and planted Vine Community Church in Carbondale, Illinois (currently Vine Church). At the time he was considering becoming a pastor in and around 1995, Steve did not reveal the alleged sexual assault to his current local pastor, Jaime Moyers. He also did not inform the Vineyard Regional Overseer/National Board member, Happy Leman. At least three other officials with the Vineyard Association, including two former National Board Members and one Area Pastoral Coordinator, also indicated that they were not made aware of Steve’s alleged sexual assault at the time of ordination, were not aware of the alleged assault during Steve’s time in the Vineyard, and did not know about the alleged assault until recently. These leaders indicated that rigorous background screening processes for pastors were not in existence at the time. There may be some local leaders in Carbondale, Illinois from the early beginnings of the church and at the time of his ordination who knew about Steve's alleged assault. But it appears he withheld critical background information from anyone officially involved with his ordination and decision to plant a church within the Vineyard movement.

For statements from former Vineyard officials, read the article Vineyard Officials Were Not Aware of Steve Morgan’s Arrest.

APPROPRIATE ACTION HAS NOT BEEN TaKEN regarding THIS INFORMATION

Information about Steve’s self-disclosed alleged sexual assault was brought to the attention of the Network Leadership Team by Andrew Lumpe on July 2, 2019 (see letter referenced above in "Letter to Network Leaders" section). The Network Leadership Team at the time consisted of Sándor Paull, Tony Ranvestel, Aaron Kuhnert, Justin Major, and Luke Williams and we believe this group remains intact today. According to the current Network by-laws, this is the only group with official oversight of Steve Morgan’s Network Leader/Network Board President position. These leaders were all selected, trained, and appointed by Steve to their Network and local pastor positions resulting in potential conflicts of interest.

Sándor Paull indicated to Andrew Lumpe in June 2019 that they were not going to inform Steve Morgan about the letter which was sent to the Network Leadership Team. No reasons were given for this decision to withhold the discussions from Steve. No member of the Network Leadership Team responded to Andrew Lumpe’s letter, nor did they systematically respond to the set of questions proposed in the letter.

There is also a local church board at Joshua Church in Austin, Texas who have responsibility for that local church and have official oversight of Steve Morgan as Lead Pastor there. At least two Joshua Church board members, James Chidester and Phil Greger, are aware of the alleged assault (James prior to 2007 and Phil in at least 2020) although it is not clear what details Phil Greger knows about. Steve Morgan also appointed these board members and serves as the Joshua Church board President. James Chidester also serves as an employee of the Network as a counselor and holds a PhD in clinical psychology. It is not known if other overseers at Joshua Church are aware of the situation.

In July 2019, Sándor Paull and James Chidester separately stated verbally to Andrew Lumpe that they were not taking any formal actions regarding Steve Morgan’s self-disclosed alleged sexual assault for the following reasons:

  • The alleged assault happened before Steve was a Christian.
  • Steve is forgiven and we need to move on.
  • We know he has been pure ever since.
  • The boy victim was 17 years old and consented to the sex (this was not true as according to the court records and tipster information, the alleged victim was 15)
  • The case was already handled by the legal system.
  • Steve participated in a psychiatric examination at the time of the legal case.
  • Steve has received much healing prayer and counseling from Network Leaders.
  • We don’t need to speak with outside experts because it’s been handled within the Network.

The Network Leadership Team initially indicated that they would not contact outside experts. After this stance was questioned by Andrew Lumpe, Sándor Paull stated he would try to reach out to outside experts, but, to our knowledge, no such contact ever occurred. Sándor stated to Andrew Lumpe that he would keep him informed of developments as they unfolded but Andrew never heard from Sándor again.

 


WHY IS THIS INFORMATION IMPORTANT FOR NETWORK CHURCHES?

The alleged sex assault occured in the context of a church in which Steve was serving as a leader over young adults. Steve is a current public figure in a church leadership position as Lead Pastor of Joshua Church and also serves as Network Leader/Board President. He currently has responsibility over 26 local churches, hundreds of pastorsincluding youth group leadersand oversees thousands of church members across the United States and in two other countries. Steve is in a position of church leadership at the highest possible level and church leaders are held to higher standards (1 Tim 3:1-7) than the laypeople in their care.

The purpose of disclosing this information is to engage in a public attempt to encourage Network leaders to ensure responsible, appropriate actions have been taken for the safety of all Network pastors, staff, church members and attenders. This public notice is meant to inform and protect the church and its people. Parents and church members have a right to know when a disclosed alleged sex offender is in their midst.

Sexual assault is differentiated from other sins because they are abuses of power.[2] Such abuses are relevant because Steve is currently leading thousands of people within a system of his own making in which power is consolidated with him and a small group of people he appointed. Scripture singles out some sins, particularly those involving abuse, as sin that is an abomination or is particularly hated by God (Matthew 18:6-7, Ps 5:6; 11:5; Prov 6:16-19). This is largely based on the graver consequences of certain sins, especially abuse, on individuals and on the community. Sexual assault is a most serious sin in God’s eyes. It is terribly destructive, often causing lifelong consequences. For the abuser, their behavior demonstrates severe hard-heartedness with frightening, devastating consequences to those under the abusers' influence.

This particular case occurred in the context of a church youth group in which Steve was an older leader with power and influence over an alleged, vulnerable minor victim. Current power of authority laws in many states make it a crime for a school teacher or any adult leader to engage in sex with a person under 18 years old. Teen boys who are sexually assaulted by an adult male may also experience specific damaging effects including increased depression, anxiety, questions of sexual orientation, a sense of blame, and fear of judgement.[3]

Recent summaries of research on recidivism or reoffense rates show that between 16-75% of sexual offenders reoffend depending on the study design (followup surveys, re-arrest rates, followup length, etc.).[4] Even with rates between 16-75%, nearly all experts agree that reoffending is a real possibility and must be considered, even if the offender claims they have not committed more assaults. We have no knowledge of other alleged offenses by Steve, either before or after the one incident which he disclosed. But Steve cannot be the final authority over his own vindication.

Already we have observed that the alleged crime to which Steve "confessed" was significantly altered from the alleged crime which has now come to our attention. Is this the same instance about which Steve obfuscated and concealed key, damaging details? Or were there two alleged offenses: one which Steve disclosed and one he did not? We do not know the answers to these questions.

According to most current state laws, being convicted of sexual assault may result in a lifetime listing on sexual offender registries along with lifetime electronic monitoring.[5] At the time of Steve’s alleged assault, there were no sex offender registries in existence.

God can and does forgive all sins upon repentance, and these include even the most grievous sins like sexual assault. We should all be willing to confess our sins to the people with whom we are accountable. Pastors and church leaders are not above confession and should confess to other leaders who do not have a conflict of interest.

Sexual sins involving assault need careful consideration, intentional structures, and oversight to ensure public safety. If we are truly forgiven, then all previous sins should be in the light. And we know that God wonderfully regenerates and sanctifies believers. We don't discount the role of the Holy Spirit in changing believers.

Nonetheless, given Steve Morgan's inadequate disclosure about an arrest for a serious alleged sexual crime and the secrecy he appears to have employed in hiding and obfuscating key details about this alleged assault for many years, combined with what is known about the troubling psychological profile of those who sexually assault victims over whom they have spiritual authority, it cannot be said with any credible certainty that the Network has protections in place to address all potential abuses that have been disclosed to—or perpetuated by—its leadership.

SEX OFFENDERS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO SERVE AS A PASTOR OR CHURCH LEADER

Even though the self-disclosed alleged assault occurred many years ago, and Steve can be forgiven, several key questions remain. Should someone arrested for sexual assault of a minor serve in a vocational leadership role per the requirements of elder as outlined in the Bible? Is a leader with this background above reproach and do they have a good reputation in the community (I Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6)? How does having this background affect a person’s ministry? Is it healthy for Steve’s long-term wellbeing to serve in church leadership capacities? Are church members safe? Should a person with this background supervise subordinates who lead church youth groups? Most churches would not hire a church youth leader with this alleged criminal background. These are questions we believe that the Network leadership and pastors should address and publicly communicate to church members.

The issue of sex abuse by clergy has been at the forefront of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) the past few years since a Houston Chronicle investigative report revealed hundreds of convicted sex abusers were still serving in church leadership positions.[6] Partially in response to these cases the SBC Messengers overwhelmingly passed a resolution in the summer of 2021 stating the following:

“WHEREAS, Scripture says that pastors, elders, and overseers are to be ‘above reproach’ (1 Timothy 3:2) and ‘blameless’ (Titus 1:6); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith and Message says that pastors should be ‘qualified by Scripture’; and

WHEREAS, Sexual abuse is an action repugnant to the teachings of Scripture and reprehensible even to those who are not believers; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 15-16, 2021, believe that any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we recommend that all of our affiliated churches apply this standard to all positions of church leadership.”[7]

At the recent 2022 Southern Baptist Convention, the messengers approved two new resolutions on pastoral sexual abuse and a lament/repentance for sexual abuse in churches.[8]

The Network churches are not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. However, the SBC is the largest protestant denomination in the United States and has a large influence on protestant church practices. The way the SBC has begun to address sexual abuse by its leadership can be informative for any church system.

Spiritual leaders have a unique position of power over the church members they lead. This power dynamic is similar to other professions like medical professionals, licensed counselors, and school educators. This is why many churches' policies explicitly state that sexual assault by a leader against anyone under their care, whether an adult or minor, is considered immoral. This view is expressed in the 2022 SBC resolutions. In 2021, the Roman Catholic Church made it impermissible for church workers to abuse their authority against both minors and adults. According to a recent article, “The [canon] law recognizes that adults, not only children, can be victimized by priests who abuse their authority. The revisions also say that lay people holding church positions, such as school principals or parish economists, can be punished for abusing minors as well as adults.”[9]

A comment made during the March 4, 2021 Ask NT Wright Anything podcast, draws attention to this very issue. Dr. Wright stated,

“Sexual behavior and misbehavior goes very, very deeply into the personality. Somebody who is accustomed to be a seducer of vulnerable people is simply not likely to get over that just because they repented and the church has said God gives you absolution. Therefore they should not be put in that position. It’s like someone who has come off alcohol. They can be brought back into the community but they should not be given a job running a pub. Somebody who’s been convicted of financial mismanagement, maybe they can be given a position but not as a church treasurer.”[10]

Other similar cases emerged in recent years. Andy Savage, as a 22-year-old youth pastor in Texas sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl who was a member of his youth group. The assault was not reported and was hidden for twenty years. Savage resigned from his lead pastor position of a large church in Memphis after the victim’s story became public and was published in the New York Times.[11] Charles Lyons was a longtime pastor of a church in the Chicago area. He confessed to a sex assault on a minor which occurred over forty years earlier. Lyons resigned after the victim went public with details.[12] And just recently, a 22-year-old church youth group leader in Ohio was criminally charged with having sex with a teen member of his youth group and was fired from his position in the church immediately.[13] Unfortunately, such cases are not uncommon.

 


 

WHAT DO EXPERTS RECOMMEND SHOULD OCCUR WHEN A SEX OFFENDER IS IN THE CHURCH?

Mr. Boz Tchividjian set forth a set of recommendations for how churches should address having a sex offender within the church.[14] [15] Other church risk management groups also list a set of recommendations.[16] [17] [18] [19] Combined, such recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The needs of victims and survivors should always come first. Restitution and support may need to be considered for victims of sexual assault.
  • Churches should work with a group like GRACE to investigate to ensure that there are no additional victims and to develop protective policies and systems. 
  • Careful grace should be extended to the offender but with an understanding of what underlying typologies and behaviors may drive their actions.
  • Offenders can participate in local church activities but only with clear safeguards in place. 
  • Church leaders and workers need to be trained in protection strategies, safeguarding policies, and reporting procedures. 
  • Churches should implement a signed written contract between the church and an offender that articulates clear boundaries and consequences. Contracts should be indefinite and be reviewed regularly. 
  • Offenders should not be allowed to be alone on church property or in areas with youth and children. 
  • A professional risk assessment should be part of any contract with an offender. 
  • Church contracts should severely limit sex offenders’ participation in any form of public ministry in the church. A church should not ask a sex offender to be part of the public platform.
  • An offender must never be placed in a position of trust or responsibility that in any manner communicates to children and youth that they are safe.
  • Accountability partners should be assigned to the offender. 
  • Ongoing, professional counseling by an expert in sex abuse should be offered for the offender. 
  • Information about the assault should be communicated with church members. Public information should be provided and secrecy codes removed.
  • Church leaders with responsibility who fail to act may be complicit in hiding information from the public and should be held accountable.

 


 

Timeline of Events

The following timeline highlights how the information about Steve Morgan's alleged sexual assault became known to board members and other pastors within Steve Morgan's accountability structure. At this time no policies or procedures have been introduced to address how the Network will handle sex offenders as pastors or staff, nor how to address sexual abuses that are disclosed or perpetuated by Network leaders.

  • 1986-1987
    • Steve Morgan graduates from Graceland College and moves to Johnson County, Kansas (greater Kansas City Metro area), to work as a youth pastor at an RLDS church.
    • Steve Morgan was arrested for aggravated criminal sodomy against a minor.
  • 1995
    • Steve Morgan is ordained as a pastor in the Vineyard Association and plants Vineyard Community Church (now called Vine Church) in Carbondale, Illinois.
    • Steve does not disclose his arrest for alleged sexual assault to Vineyard leadership during the ordination process. 
  • 2004:
    • Steve Morgan moves to the Seattle, Washington area to plant Blue Sky Church.
    • Andrew Lumpe begins role as Vice-President of Blue Sky Church's Board of Overseers.
    • Steve does not disclose his prior arrest for alleged sexual assault to all the Blue Sky Board of Overseers.
  • 2005:
    • Steve Morgan pulls his church and others he planted out of the Vineyard Association.
    • Steve does not disclose his arrest for alleged sexual assault during the restructuring of the newly formed network of churches, and no policies or procedures are introduced addressing how the churches will handle sex offenses by pastors or staff, nor how pastors or staff are to address sex offense disclosures
  • June 2007
    • Steve Morgan sends Larry Anderson (member of board of overseers at Vine Church) and James Chidester (member of board of overseers at Blue Sky Church) to tell Andrew Lumpe about Steve's arrest for alleged sexual assault as an explanation for Steve's increasingly concerning job performance.
    • Though Larry and James had prior knowledge of Steve's arrest for alleged sexual assault they seem not to have undertaken any additional investigation as part of their roles as board members of Vine Church and Blue Sky Church.
    • Larry and James exhort Andrew to protect Steve and not disclose this information to anyone.
  • July 2007:
    • Steve Morgan talks with Andrew Lumpe and confirms what Larry and James had told Andrew about Steve's arrest for alleged sexual assault was true. He states that Larry Anderson conducted a search for an arrest record and came up empty handed. Steve expresses relief.
    • A group of Network pastors and leaders meets with Steve to pray for him. Steve offers to resign asking if the alleged sexual assault is disqualifying. The other leaders convince him to not resign.
  • November 2011: Steve Morgan asks Andrew Lumpe to resign as member of Blue Sky Church's board of overseers.
  • 2017: Steve Morgan moves to Austin, Texas to plant Joshua Church and moves the Network office there. 
  • May 2019
    • Andrew Lumpe (former Vice-President of Blue Sky Church board of overseers) speaks with Luke Williams (lead pastor of Vista Church) and Sándor Paull (lead pastor at Christland Church) about Steve’s arrest for alleged sexual assault.
    • Sándor indicates he had prior knowledge of the alleged sexual assault. Luke indicates that he did not have prior knowledge of it.
  • June 2019
    • Sándor Paull flies to California to meet with Andrew Lumpe and Luke Williams. Sándor indicates that he and Luke will take no action. 
    • Andrew Lumpe sends letter about Steve’s alleged sexual assault to Network Leadership Team including Sándor Paull, Luke Williams, Aaron Kuhnert, Tony Ranvestal, and Justin Major. Andrew receives no response.  
    • Boz Tchividjian, Executive Director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environment) agrees to meet with Network Leaders. No Network Leadership Team member meets with Boz. 
    • No policies or procedures are introduced addressing how the churches will handle sex offenses by pastors or staff, nor how pastors or staff are to address sex offense disclosures.
  • July/August 2019
    • James Chidester (now a member of Joshua Church's board of overseers) tells Andrew Lumpe that he is unethical for the methods he has pursued in recommending policies and procedures for how the churches should handle having an alleged sex offender as a lead pastor.
  • March 2020: Andrew Lumpe leaves Vista Church and Network.
  • June 2020:
    • Andrew Lumpe sends letter to Steve Morgan indicating his departure from the network of churches and outlining the details he had gathered about Steve’s alleged sexual assault
    • Steve does not refute nor deny Andrew's letter and admits he was not forthcoming in the details of how the crime was resolved.
  • September 2020:
    • Steve Morgan allegedly discloses his sexual assault to lead pastors at a lead pastor retreat. The specificity of this disclosure is unknown.
      • No policies or procedures are introduced addressing how the churches will handle sex offenses by pastors or staff, nor how pastors or staff are to address sex offense disclosures.
    • Phil Greger, member of Joshua Church's board of overseers, sends a threatening text message to Andrew Lumpe.
      • Andrew interprets this text as a warning to drop his attempts at influencing the introduction of meaningful policies and procedures for dealing with having an alleged sex offender as a lead pastor and Network Leader.
  • August 2021:
    • An independent investigation of Steve Morgan's alleged sexual assault is conducted by a group of former pastors and leaders. The investigation focuses primarily on Steve Morgan’s home state of Michigan as it does not appear he told anyone that his arrest for alleged sexual assault occurred in Kansas.
  • July 2022:
    • A person close to the situation, who knew Steve during the time period of the alleged assault, and who is currently very worried about the well-being and safety of current church members, sent the Leaving The Network site details about the alleged sexual assault including the case number, criminal charge, and background details which aligned with other known information.
    • After court documents of Steve Morgan's arrest were made public, Network leaders circulate a written response claiming the sexual abuse allegations are distorted and that making the facts of the case available to the public is cruel and evil. The letter is purported to be written by the Network Leadership Team and Lead Pastors.

 


BACK TO SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS OVERVIEW:

SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATIONS: An overview and collection of content related to sexual abuse allegations against Steve Morgan, founder and president of The Network

 


 

Footnotes:

[1]"Chapter 21. - CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS, Article 35. - SEX OFFENSES, 21-3506 Aggravated criminal sodomy" Kansas Statues. law.justia.com

[2]Schrader, Jessica. "Sexual Assault Is About Power." Psychology Today, 14 November 2017, www.psychologytoday.com

[3]"Sexual Assault of Men and Boys." RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). www.rainn.org

[4]Przybylski, Roger. "Recidivism of Adult Sexual Offenders." SOMAPI (Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative). U.S. Department of Justice, July 2015, smart.ojp.gov

[5]"Chapter LXXVI, Section 750.520c." Michigan Penal Code. www.legislature.mi.gov

[6]​​Downen, Robert, et al. "Abuse of Faith." Houston Chronicle, 10 February 2019, www.houstonchronicle.com

[7]"On Abuse And Pastoral Qualifications (2021 Annual Meeting)." Resolutions. SBC (Southern Baptist Convention), 21 June 2021, www.sbc.net

[8]"Key resolutions from the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting." The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 17, 2022, erlc.com

[9]Winfield, Nicole. "Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults by priests, laity" AP News, June 1, 2021, apnews.com

[10]Wright, N.T. "Episode #55 - Ravi, Carl Lentz & the Fall of Christian Leaders." Ask NT Wright Anything Podcast, 2018, podcasts.apple.com

[11]Shellnutt, Kate. "#ChurchToo: Andy Savage Resigns from Megachurch over Past Abuse." Christianity Today, 20 March 2018, www.christianitytoday.com

[12]Cherney, Elyssa. "Pastor resigns from Logan Square church after confessing he sexually abused relative: ‘I own my sin’." Chicago Tribune, 7 November 2019, www.chicagotribune.com

[13]Einselen, Sarah. "Youth Leader at Ohio Megachurch Arrested on Charges of Having Sex with Teen." The Roys Report. JulieRoys.com, 1 November 2021, julieroys.com

[14]Tchividjian, Boz. "A Careful Grace: Accountability for Sex Offenders in the Church." RNS (Religion News Service), 25 July 2015, www.religionnews.com

[15]"Common Questions about Sexual Abuse of Children in the Christian Environment". GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). GRACE, www.netgrace.org

[16]"Sex Offenders: Should They Be Allowed to Attend Church?" Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. Brotherhood Mutual, www.brotherhoodmutual.com

[17]"The Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Sex Offenders at Church." GuideOne Insurance Company. GuideOne, www.guideone.com

[18]Showers, Robert. "Successful Church Assimilation of Sex Offenders." Simms Showers LLP. PCSDA, 2013, www.pcsda.org

[19]Kennedy, Jared. "12 Things to Consider When a Sex Offender Wants to Come to Church." GCF Blog. Gospel Centered Family, 3 February 2015, gospelcenteredfamily.com