The name of Highpoint Church's lead pastor has been scrapped from a list of speakers for an upcoming Christian conference in Memphis in the wake of recent sexual assault allegations against his fellow clergyman.
On Jan. 10, discipleship training group Downline Ministries announced that the name of Highpoint Church's lead pastor, Chris Conlee, had been removed from the speaker lineup of an upcoming summit scheduled for February. The group's president Kennon Vaughan explained that the decision was made by both Downline and the Tennessee pastor in the wake of the sexual assault allegations made against the latter's fellow clergyman, Andy Savage, WMC Action News 5 reported.
"In light of the seriousness of the accusations made by Jules Woodson against Andy Savage, we have removed Chris Conlee as a speaker at the upcoming Downline Summit," Downline Ministries said in its announcement. "We are praying for healing for Ms Woodson, and for truth and justice for everyone involved."
In a statement, Conlee revealed that Savage had previously informed him about a sexual incident with a teenage girl in Texas 20 years ago, even before it was made public. Savage also admitted the incident and issued a formal apology for it on Jan. 7.
Appearing on the "Ben Ferguson Radio Show" on Jan. 11, Pastor Savage admitted that what he did was wrong. However, he maintained that what happened was consensual and not illegal, and what the alleged victim, Woodson, was saying was not the whole truth, WREG relayed.
Savage and Woodson reportedly disclosed what happened to their church leaders at the time but the incident was not reported to the police. The pastor later on resigned from the Texas church he was working for and transferred to Memphis.
As of the moment, no charges have been filed against Savage since the statute of limitations had already passed. Meanwhile, Highpoint Church announced that the embattled pastor will be taking an immediate leave of absence while an audit on the issue is being conducted. Nevertheless, the megachurch has expressed its support for Savage as one of its leaders and has asked for prayers for all the parties involved.