The Alabama Baptist

March 28, 2018

By Carrie Brown McWhorter

Andy Savage, who served on the senior leadership team as teaching pastor at Memphis’ Highpoint Church, has stepped down following public acknowledgment that he sexually assaulted a teen 20 years ago while serving as her youth minister at a Texas church.

Highpoint Church, a megachurch which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, was widely criticized in January when Savage was given a standing ovation after apologizing for a “sexual incident” in 1998 involving Jules Woodson, a 17-year-old high school senior in his youth group at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in suburban Houston.

Woodson remained silent for two decades until the #MeToo movement exposing sexual abuse by powerful men prompted her to share the story on two Christian blogs.

In a New York Times video published in early March, Woodson said she looked up to Savage and trusted him before the 1998 encounter. Afterward, she said, church leaders didn’t handle it properly.

“What happened was a crime,” Woodson said. “This is not something the church should handle internally. … We as a church, of all places, should be getting this right.”

The allegations against Savage came at the height of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movement that saw many female Christian teachers, including Kay Warren and Beth Moore, and thousands of Christian women acknowledge past sexual abuse and call out the church’s silence on the issue.

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