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After scandal, California church looks to grow

A screenshot from www.camarillochurchofchrist.com

The Thousand Oaks Acorn reports on the Camarillo, Calif., Church of Christ. In 2007, the church’s youth minister was arrested on charges of sexually molesting multiple teenage girls over a period of eight years, the newspaper reports.

“It was a period of rapid decline and heartbreak,” (minister Keith) Whitney said.
The incident had a detrimental effect on the church. The congregation shrunk from nearly 200 members to 50.
Whitney said he wants the public to know the crime doesn’t define the church, which has faced many struggles since its founding in 1960 but has emerged stronger and closer to God each time.
“(The scandal) hanging over us was something that affects the joy of life and community in a church and has a paling effect on the congregation,” Whitney said.
“But we are finally beyond all of that. There’s a great love in this church and a hopeful attitude for growth.”

Read the full story.
Whitney (mistakenly referred to as “pastor” in parts of the story) is an associate professor of  business law at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
Last year we reported on efforts to buy a handicap-accessible van for Tim Kelley, a member of the Camarillo church.

  • Feedback
    When we go through a wilderness and hope seems all gone and the weight of the world brings us down. In these times we wait for manna from above where our hearts are faithfully bound. “I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” when we head to our home over there.
    Jason Goldtrap
    February, 24 2011

    This kind of thing is so tragic. The young preacher of the church here had affairs with different women while he was passionately preaching in the pulpits of three churches where he ministered. His example led couples to divorce and others to go deeper into their porn addiction. The man is unrepentant and seems to lack remorse, guilt, and empathy for his own wife and children and the children he fathered by another woman and her husband and their children. I think churches should have all employees to undergo psychological testing before being hired and not just be hired on speaking ability and references. We must use wisdom combined with prayer.
    Daniel Keeran
    February, 28 2011

    Thank you for the very brief note that the Acorn reporter referred to me as “Rev” and “pastor” Whitney. But the title given me (while not one I accept) was not important compared with the other choices the kind-hearted, talented reporter made. We gave her a lot of information about very courageous actions taken by this church and her members, and we stressed what we learned from the past. We believe we are likely one of the safest churches in America (for children and youth) now. No class or activity is to involve less than two unrelated adult chaperons, evert classroom door now has a large window, and each member involved in any aspect of the education or supervision of youth goes through online training.
    Also, although I had begged the reporter to avoid the use of the name of the offender, her choices to highlight our exodus from this painful past (in the way she did) has caused pain for some. We regret that this situation continues to cause pain, and we ask for the prayers of all Christians for a church comprised of wonderful Christian sisters and brothers who had nothing to do with the conduct that led to such serious consequences.
    L. Keith Whitney
    March, 1 2011

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