I attended North Sharon Baptist Church for many years, and for the most part I loved going there. The people were like family, we were a very close knit church, and even more so after a few of the men in our church were falsely accused of child molestation. Going through a trial like that will bring a family closer for sure.
That was a terrible time in my life, for more than just the fact that our church was being drug through the dirt. During this time my pastor, the man that we are supposed to be able to trust, and counsel with during hard times, started a very inappropriate relationship with me.
It all started very innocently, in my eyes anyway, with just a tap on the hand as he walked by during closing prayer, going to greet people after the service. Then as we were going through this battle at church, he would call me into his office, and just give me a hug, and make sure I was doing alright, I mean our youth director was in jail after all. I still didn’t think too much of this, though he preached against men and women touching, but it was Bill Wininger! He was a man of God, he wouldn’t have any ill intentions. But I was wrong, whether he planned it or not, things didn’t stay so innocent for long. I’m not going to go into detail, but things quickly went very bad. I remember thinking how in the world could he get up in front of our church and preach and tell them that things were going to be ok, when he was putting the lives of those men sitting jail in jeopardy. If someone caught him, there was no way those 2 men would ever be acquitted of the crimes they had been falsely accused of.
He used that to keep me from telling anyone, he was sure to make sure to remind me often that if anyone found out about “us” that those 2 men, and probably more, would rot in jail.
Things went on for quite some time, about a year and a half, until he finally felt the “call of God” to leave our church. I have heard stories as to why God called him right then, and so quickly, but I know nothing to be 100% truth, so I won’t speculate, but they were gone with very little warning.
Shortly before he left, a couple of other teenagers and I got to talking and I discovered that they had very similar issues with our pastor. None of us knew what to do, the best we could come up with was to do our best to avoid being in the church alone. But then, he just started pulling us out of class (we all attended the Christian school there) to “counsel”.
We were never so relieved as when he finally left, my senior year of high school. That should have been the best time of my high school career, however that is when the guilt set in. I knew that he wouldn’t stop, though I really wanted to believe he would. I have been plagued by this guilt ever since. I hope that we can all finally get the peace that we have been searching for these past 18 years.
This is a very abbreviated version of my story, but I wanted to get it out there. I want to finally do something, and if I can help just one person find the courage to stand, then everything I went though was worth it.