Third leader at televangelist Mark Barclay’s church investigated for sex abuse crimes

Christian Post [Washington DC]

April 5, 2024

By Samantha Kamman

A third leader at televangelist Mark Barclay’s Michigan-based church has been suspended following accusations of sexual abuse, months after Barclay’s son-in-law was charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The Living Word International Church figure at the center of the recent allegations, an unnamed pastor, has been suspended and removed from all positions, according to Barclay’s son, Pastor Josh Barclay, in an interview with WNEM-TV5 last week.

According to Barclay, the alleged abuse did not occur at the church. 

Michigan State Police told WNEM that it cannot confirm or deny whether there is an active investigation until an arrest is made or charges are brought forth. 

“Living Word International Church is deeply saddened and concerned to address recent allegations of misconduct involving one of our ministers,” the younger Barclay said in a statement, as quoted by WNEM.

“We take these matters extremely seriously and are committed to transparency, accountability, and ensuring the safety and well-being of our congregation.”

Josh Barclay acknowledged that this is not the first time the church has dealt with these types of accusations, likely referring to the charges against church volunteer Brandon Saylor and Mark Barclay’s son-in-law, the Rev. James Randolph.

Josh Barclay also expressed sympathy for those affected by the allegations and the entire church community. 

“We take this matter and the safety and well-being of everyone in the church very seriously,” the pastor told the local news outlet. “An independent investigator recently reviewed our internal safety and protective practices, and the results were positive.”

“We continue to follow our legal counsel’s advice to make certain we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our congregation, especially our children, and are praying earnestly for guidance.” 

The church’s policy has always been to report accusations of this kind to the appropriate authorities, Josh Barclay said, noting that should be standard practice for all parents, churches and ministries.

“Living Word International Church remains steadfast in our mission to serve and support our community with integrity, compassion, and the love of Christ,” he stated. “We ask for your prayers for all those affected by these troubling circumstances and for wisdom and discernment as we navigate this challenging time together.”

Mark Barclay Ministries did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment. 

As WNEM-TV 5 reported, Saylor, a 44-year-old church elder and volunteer, pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under 13 in January. Saylor pleaded guilty in a plea agreement, and six other charges against him were dropped. Midland County Sheriff Myron Greene told the outlet that Saylor knew the victims. 

Last November, Randolph was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a relationship, four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting children for immoral purposes. According to The Midland Daily News, the crimes allegedly took place in 2011. Randolph’s case is expected to go to trial, WNEM-TV5 notes. 

Josh Barclay told CP at the time that Randolph had been placed on administrative leave “pending the results of the criminal justice process.”

“We are aware of the arrest of James Randolph, one of our ministers on staff, and the allegations against him,” he said. “Importantly, the allegations do not involve the church, and the alleged acts did not take place in the church.” 

“Living Word International Church takes seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety of our congregation, and we are committed to taking any necessary steps to protect the congregation and the church.”

Mark Barclay is known as the self-styled “Preacher of Righteousness,” and he presents his ministry as family-themed. In 2013, the televangelist asked his followers for $79,000 to repaint a luxury jet, which he said “actually belongs” to the Lord.