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Matt Queen preaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in March 2023. (Video screen grab)

Baptist seminary president expresses regret over two staffers implicated in investigation

Two former staff members of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth who now are serving as pastors were charged or implicated in the Justice Department’s investigation. It alleges that Southern Baptist Convention leaders intimidated whistleblowers and exonerated churches with credible claims of sexual abuse.

“This episode is a matter of deep regret to me,” seminary President David Dockery said this week.

“I am, however, grateful that several employees in whom I placed great trust acted responsibly. I commend the service and integrity of these employees. We remain resolute to continue to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice in all aspects of this investigation.”

Matthew Queen, a former professor and now lead pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., was charged with one count of falsification of records from his time at the seminary. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Following Queen’s indictment, Friendly Avenue Baptist Church announced Sunday that he had been placed on administrative leave.

Dockery confirmed that the second employee charged is the seminary’s former chief of staff, Heath Woolman, now the lead pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in St. Johns, Fla. Dockery said both Woolman and Queen misrepresented the facts of a sexual abuse investigation to him.

“In April 2023, Woolman became a candidate for the pastoral position he now holds,” he said. “He requested, and I offered, a brief affirmation of his candidacy to the church given his then-role at the seminary, given the fact that he had been a quality student in one of my doctoral seminars and given the information available to us at the time. Woolman resigned as chief of staff on May 5, 2023, to accept the pastoral position. If asked to provide the same recommendation today, and based on information received subsequent to that time, I would not be able to provide the same recommendation.”

It was unclear if Woolman would continue as pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice


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