-------- Original Message --------
||Sat, 20 Jan 2007 04:37:27 +0000
Here is the long awaited statement. You have my OK to use it
in whatever way you feel necessary, and you may include my name.
This has been extremely hard to do, but I think it had to be
--- statement follows ---
It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I felt
I could write this. In light of recent events and allegations
brought forth by other parties, I feel it has become necessary
to compose this statement.
Let me begin by saying that I am not writing out of a spirit
of vengeance or animosity. I had never planned on sharing what
happened with anyone else. I was prepared to take this to my
grave. I had forgotten, or at least pushed back, the feelings
of shame and resentment I had about this situation, but in recent
days a lot of that has been brought back. I do not, however,
blame anyone who has been DIRECTLY affected by this for coming
Tommy Shelton was my pastor for many years at the Ezra Church
of God in West Frankfort, IL. I began attending with my mother,
sister and two brothers around 1974 or so, and my father became
a Christian and began coming with us shortly after I graduated from
high school in 1984. Tommy and I were never really close until
I began attending the Christian school our church operated. Over
the next few years, we would spend a lot of time talking, as
I was dealing with depression issues and he was counseling
When the General Assembly of the Church of God in Illinois decided
to suspend Tommy's ministerial credentials in 1985, I was one
of several who wrote a letter in his defense. I was also questioned
by a detective at the West Frankfort Police Department. I had
been on a few overnight trips with him, and gave testimony that
nothing had happened that would substantiate the allegations
being made against him. At the time, this was true. It was, unfortunately,
about to change.
Sometime in late 1985 or early 1986, Tommy came to me and said
he had an unusual medical problem and asked for my help. I was
shocked. I had previously been told by two other young men that
he had said the same thing to them, but I could not believe that
they were telling me the truth, even though they told me identical
stories at two different times. Now I was hearing these words
from my pastor. I felt trapped. I wanted to say something right
then, but I didn't. I had vigorously defended him against allegations
in the past, and had even lost friends because of it. I had written
a letter saying nothing had happened to me. I had told the police
nothing happened. Now, here I was, 19 years old, with NO ONE
I felt I could talk to about it.
Over the next few months, Tommy and I would meet at his house,
the church, the original 3ABN building, and even one night on
a back country road, anywhere he thought no one would see us.
There was a lot of inappropriate touching, but nothing further.
He wanted much more out of it, but I couldn't let it happen because
in my heart I knew it wasn't right. I was wrestling with thoughts
like "What if someone finds out? What will happen to the church ... his
family ... my family? Who would believe me anyway?"
Whenever he would be touching me, I would get muscle spasms in
my back. I guess it was because I was so tense. More than once
he sensed that I was in pain, and a couple of times he even accused
me of "faking it" because I didn't care or didn't want to help
him. I really started questioning if I was in the wrong. It was
constant mental and emotional turmoil.
On one occasion, I had been hired by a television and appliance
rent-to-own company as an assistant manager, and was to travel
to the main office about an hour away for two days of training.
The company said they would get me a motel room so I wouldn't
have to drive back and forth. When Tommy found this out, he decided
that it would be a good opportunity for him to come down to my
room and no one would ever know the difference. I paid very little
attention to my training all day long because I was dreading
what was going to happen that night. Finally, as the supervisor
was going to reserve the room, I told him that "something had
come up" and I was going to have to drive back home, so I wouldn't
need the room after all. I lied. I don't remember what excuse
I gave Tommy for not staying the night down there, but I know
I lied to him also. I really didn't want to drive back and forth,
but I hated the thought of another "meeting" worse. I loved my
pastor and didn't want to hurt him, but I didn't know how much
longer I could keep this up. I was now lying to try to avoid
Finally, he said he realized that I was uncomfortable and decided
we shouldn't be doing this. It was like a thousand pound weight
was gone. I felt free. The problem is that I felt such a release
that I didn't consider the fact that this had already happened
before, or so I had been told. I never told anyone. It is because
of my silence, I feel, that others have been harmed. That is
one of my big regrets and I will carry that guilt for the rest
of my days. There is nothing I can ever do to change that. I
only hope that in some way, speaking out now will help put an
end to it once and for all.
I am happy to say that God has been with me through it all. I
am still attending church faithfully, and have been working with
teens at church for the past 10-12 years. I was ordained as a
General Baptist minister in September of 2005, and have served
as a youth pastor and Sunday School teacher at churches I have
attended previously. I am pleased to be able to say that I do
NOT have any homosexual desires or tendencies as a result of
my experience. If anything, it has made me abhor and detest it
even more than I ever did before. In addition, it is very possible
that I will be dealing with a young person in the future facing
similar issues, and God may have allowed me to go through this
so I would know how to help them. All things DO work together
for good to those who love God!
In conclusion, I want to say that I do NOT hate Tommy Shelton,
nor do I want to see him or his family destroyed. I grew up with
the Shelton kids. They're almost like family to me. I hope that
my coming forward doesn't end our friendships, although I'm sure
it will never be the same from this point forward.
I ask all who read this to please pray for all those who have
been directly involved, our families, our churches and yes, for
Tommy Shelton also. It is my opinion that he needs to be out
of the ministry right now, but he also needs the Lord's leadership
as he deals with past issues. Our God is a God of judgment, but
He is also a God of forgiveness and restoration. I want that
restoration for Tommy and everyone else who has been affected
by this. Snide remarks and hateful comments won't solve anything
or bring healing to anyone. Only God's touch can do that.
Thank you for your prayers and thoughts as we all try to put
this behind us. God bless.