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First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch: Quadruply Blind

This is one of the oldest churches in Dallas County. Here is the kind of example set by this historic Southern Baptist church.

In 1969, pastor Glenn Hayden and music minister James A. Moore were informed about youth minister Tommy Gilmore's sexual abuse of a teen church girl. The girl told Moore, and the youth minister himself talked about it with both Moore and Hayden. He told Moore that he thought some member of the congregation had seen him “in a compromising position” with the girl. Deacons in the church were probably also told. Yet, despite so many church leaders’ awareness, no one told the girl’s parents and no one reported it to the police. No one even so much as asked the teen girl if she might like to talk about it with one of the women in the church. The youth minister, Tommy Gilmore, was allowed to move on to a bigger church and a bigger salary...and to continue working with children.

Sam Underwood

In 1996, the church received a report that it’s current pastor, Sam Underwood, had sexually abused an adult congregant in his prior church. The deacons purported to have conducted an investigation which concluded that “sexual misconduct” occurred. But apparently no one thought it mattered much. When Underwood tendered his resignation, “the members of the First Baptist Church voted unanimously” to reject it. I guess actions have consequences for everyone except Baptist ministers.

In 2004, the church received a report that its prior youth and education minister, Tommy Gilmore, had sexually abused a minor girl, and that its music minister, James A. Moore, knew about it. Moore was still at the church, and he substantiated the report. Nevertheless, the church responded by having its lawyer threaten to sue the victim.

Sam Underwood, a man who had been accused of abuse himself, was the pastor responsible for shepherding the church when it made that extremely hostile response.

On a Sunday morning in 2005, church members received letters on their cars, telling them about their prior minister’s sexual abuse of a kid and about the fact that the music minister knew of it. Yet, even with scores of letters distributed, the church members didn’t take appropriate action.

“Twice-blind” doesn’t quite describe it for this church. It’s more like quadruply blind.

The church was quadruply blind, both with the number of occasions when they failed and also with the number of ministers who failed. A court filing asserted that this single church has had “at least four ministers who were involved in or complicit with sexually abusive conduct:” (1) Gilmore, a minister who sexually abused a minor; (2) Moore, a minister who kept quiet about another minister’s abuse of a minor; (3) Underwood, a minister reported to have sexually abused a congregant; and (4) Hayden, now deceased, a minister who kept quiet about another minister’s sexual abuse of a minor.”