MONTGOMERY - An Alabama church has been left reeling after its pastor of 23 years reportedly admitted to taking cocaine and having sex with parishioners in church grounds.
Elders at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery voted to oust Juan Demetrius McFarland from his position following the revelations in a series of sermons last month, according to local media outlets. The congregation was reportedly sympathetic when McFarland first revealed to the congregation that he had been diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and later with AIDS in 2008. But their sympathy turned to dismay when he revealed in a later confession that he had taken drugs, including cocaine, and had admitted to having sex on the grounds of the church, AL.com reports.
McFarland, 47, did not name the women but said some of them were members of the church. In a further revelation, he admitted to holding onto church funds that had been earmarked for his business trips, even though he did not go. According to WSFA 12 News, McFarland admitted to sleeping with church members without disclosing he had AIDS.
One unnamed church member told WSFA the church had been "very accepting" of McFarland when he revealed he had AIDS. But it was his further admissions that proved too much for the church. Church deacon Nathan Williams Jr told WSFA: "He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS." Another church member who did not wish to be named said one female member of Shiloh who had slept with McFarland was getting checked for HIV.
"And my heart goes out to her because she's been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen," the church member said. "The fact that he didn't tell them at all. That's a crime in itself."
The Daily Mail reports that McFarland was removed as pastor of Shiloh in a vote by deacons on October 5, but charges have not been filed against him. The newspaper also reported that he so far remains the Moderator of the Alabama Middle District Baptist Association, which covers 34 churches.
Christian Today/Oct. 10, 2014