MIDLAND, Tx. (KOSA) — The Southern Baptist Convention has expelled one of its churches for employing a pastor that is a registered sex offender, the New York Times reports.
According to the NYT, church leaders voted on Tuesday to expel Ranchland Heights Baptist Church.
Ranchland Heights Baptist Church took on Phillip Rutledge as their pastor in 2016. The church explained to CBS7 that they knew his status before they hired him.
"Our administration knew about Bro. Phillip's history before the hiring, and the vast majority of the church knew about it as well. We believe that God can change people, and we believe that God has forgiven Bro. Phillip as well.”
Church officials also told CBS7 that Phillips was never around children alone.
"We make sure children are never by themselves in the sanctuary or any activities alone with the Pastor. He is very cautious of it as well."
According to the NYT, Ranchland Heights will be able to appeal the decision before the full Southern Baptist Convention this summer.