An Indiana church is on the lookout for new leadership following the resignation of three of its elders and its pastor, who are under investigation after being accused of failing to appropriately address reports that the pastor’s underaged family member had sexually abused up to 15 children.
Pastor Jared Olivetti and ex-elders Keith Magill, Ben Larson and David Carr of West Lafayette’s Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church have issued their resignations following allegations of mishandling reports of abuse, the congregation was told during Sunday’s service.
Ken de Jong, who serves as Immanuel’s provisional moderator, made the announcement.
“We want to make sure everyone here knows what transpired this week, especially yesterday,” de Jong said.
“At the congregational meeting yesterday, elders Keith Magill, Ben Larson and David Carr resigned, and the session received this resignation, and it’s effective tomorrow, so they’re still elders today. Pastor Jared Olivetti has also submitted his resignation, which will be processed through the presbytery over the next couple of weeks.”
He added that the four issued their resignations “very reluctantly.”
“They have done so specifically to encourage the growth and development of this congregation,” he said.
“Thank you, men for your service, and we pray that God would use this in the life of this congregation and the lives of these men. They are not going anywhere — thank the Lord,” de Jong added. “Give an earnest prayer for the congregation on Friday, when the church will seek to find the Lord’s leading with respect to those who will step in and fill the roles these men have given up for the sake of the Lord’s Gospel and His church.”
The resignations came after the Reformed Presbyterian Church placed Olivetti on leave earlier this month as it investigated the accusations.
It had been disclosed that Olivetti’s teenage relative had been harassing children and committing sexual offenses against minors, as well as engaging in other unlawful acts. According to internal church documents acquired by The Indianapolis Star, church leadership, including Olivetti, allegedly did not act with any urgency.
Olivetti and the session leaders were alleged to have tried to hide the allegations from church members and denominational leaders for roughly four months.
Although there are no criminal charges filed against the pastor and three elders, ecclesiastical charges are pending against them amid regional and national investigations within the denomination, according to the Indy Star.
The newspaper’s December investigation revealed that the abuse happened at the Immanuel church location, and abuse also occurred away from the church grounds from spring 2019 to March 2020.
Eight victims from different families reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact and penetration committed by a boy at church.
An order entered in Tippecanoe County juvenile court indicates that investigators identified up to 15 children who suffered abuse at the hands of the boy in question, according to The Indianapolis Star. The newspaper adds that a judge found the juvenile to be delinquent on multiple felony charges of child molestation, and the child was sent to a residential facility.
The Christian Post reached out to Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church to comment on the allegations. A response was not received by press time.
Magill took to the podium in front of the church to deliver a final prayer during the service.
“As with great confidence, we affirm what we heard this morning in that the King of a Christ will stand,” he began. “Nothing will defeat Jesus, until the end of time and all things are consummated, when He returns and we live in that hope day in and day out and that knowledge deeply planted in our hearts today.”
“We want to respond, Lord, by just saying again: ‘We belong to you and we want to do your will,” he continued. “We want to follow you with a whole heart and we want to serve the good King with joy day in and day out.”
Magill thanked the Lord and referred to the book of Matthew where Jesus said He would “build His Church and the gates of Hell should not prevail against it.”
“And we are in the middle of seeing that here now at Immanuel,” he said.
“You’re building Your church. Sometimes it’s a little strange how You do it, but we know you’re doing it. And so, we trust You,” Magill said to the Lord. “We give You thanks for doing it. And thank You for letting us be a part of it, which is no small thing. We’re just very grateful this morning for these truths that drive us and motivate us. And keep us on track.”
Magill prayed for the Lord to help the church amid the “ongoing challenges.
With it being his final church service as an elder, Magill redirected his prayer to focus on the elder elections to replace the leaders who resigned.
“We ask Lord that You would raise up another set of men who are willing to take on this challenging, difficult situation here but can do it with hope, with determination, with humility, and with a desire to see Your will accomplished,” he asked.
Magill prayed that the Lord would give them the ability to “look forward to” what lies ahead in the future.
“I pray that it would just be so clear where Your Hand is upon this process and guide us, we ask in the work of Your Spirit,” he said. “And bless those men that are elected as they go through the examination process, as they figure out what their job is going to be, how to work it out.”
As his prayer came to a conclusion, Magill prayed for mercy for him and the other leaders who resigned.
“We also pray Lord for the judicial commission of senate. They now have some big decisions to make regarding us, based on what’s been done this week,” he added.
“I just pray that You’ll give them a merciful spirit,” he said, choking up on his words. “I pray that You’d give them kindness and love and that You would help them to bring this whole thing to a just conclusion. And we pray Lord that if they do otherwise, that You, Lord, would give a great deal of wisdom in how to respond, what to say, what to do, what not to say, what not to do, that we might see these troubles come to some kind of a resolution in facing.”