Vocal Critic of Florissant Church Leaves Job at Local Christian College

By Lilly Fowler
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 21, 2015

Brandon Milburn was charged with statutory sodomy in St. Louis County.

A vocal critic of a Florissant church over its handling of a sexual abuse scandal said the situation has compelled him to resign from his job at a local Christian college.

Doug Lay, a professor of English and literature at St. Louis Christian College, a small Bible college in Florissant, submitted his letter of resignation on Monday.

Lay had been a member of First Christian Church of Florissant, a large, evangelical house of worship that employed a youth minister now serving a 25-year prison sentence for sexual abuse.

Lay and other members of the congregation argue the church and its lead pastor, Steve Wingfield, failed to vigorously pursue allegations surrounding Brandon Milburn— the 28-year-old former youth minister now in prison. They also maintain the church has not done enough to reach out to Milburn’s victims.

Because of First Christian Church of Florissant’s close ties to the college, Lay, himself a victim of sexual abuse who continues to advocate for the two known victims at the church, felt the need to resign.

“As you know the last several months have been a very difficult time for all of us in the SLCC family and have placed a great strain on relationships here as well as the school’s long-term relationship with my former church,” wrote Lay to Guthrie Veech, president of St. Louis Christian College.

“There will likely be those who will attribute my resignation to pressure from you. I want to emphasize that this is my own decision and done in recognition of the difficult position this whole situation places you and the institution in.”

Wingfield, for his part, said he had little knowledge of Lay’s resignation and had just learned of it.

In April, Wingfield filed a defamation lawsuit against several critics of the church, including Lay.

The civil suit, filed April 16 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, alleged that the months after Milburn’s guilty plea saw an escalating pattern of “harassment” directed at Wingfield by those who said he had failed to act on a 2012 conversation with Dawn Varvil, a member of the church who had met with the pastor over concerns she had about Milburn.

According to court documents, the lawsuit was dropped last week because the church has “invited an independent Christian mediation process and as a sign of good faith.”

Wingfield also unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order that would have silenced Lay and four others, and ordered them to delete any of the alleged false statements about the church from social media and retract them.

Milburn pleaded guilty in January to seven counts of statutory sodomy. He had been charged with the crimes in February 2014, accused of molesting minors in 2007.








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