The investigation into the background and possible additional crimes of former Youth pastor Joshua Ponder spread to his former church. Prior to his arrest for the sexual assault of a teenager, Ponder was a youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Palestine from June 2001 to May 2007.
The Rev. Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Palestine, was notified of Ponder’s arrest late last week and said the church would cooperate with police in the investigation, if asked.
“We are shocked and saddened by this incident, and are praying for everyone involved,” Abernathy said Monday afternoon. “We have made counselors available to our youth and families who may be hurting and will be available to anyone in our church and community who wants to talk.
“We are working to respond to everyone hurt by this.”
The police will talk to every young person Ponder came into contact with while a youth pastor in Palestine. The conversations will be intrusive and embarrassing. This is how atheists are born. For atheist born of pastoral misconduct, it comes with a profound loss of faith when one learns that a person they trusted with their closest secrets are capable of apocryphal leadership and morally corrupt levels of sexual violence. Joshua Ponder's crime will touch dozens of young lives. Are there really people out there in Texas who think the small good Ponder accomplished as a youth pastor offset this level of violence and intrusion?
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