Steven Smith Steps Down as Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church over Mishandling Child Abuse Allegations

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Steven Smith, the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little, Arkansas, is stepping down from his role after he failed to admit that a former church official who had been guiding children had been accused of abusing minors at the church.

“If at any point now [or] in the future, this church believes God’s anointing or call upon my service at Immanuel has been lifted, I will not resist the will of the church,” Smith said at the service in a statement that was not broadcast online by the church, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “Until then, we want to continue to press on in our mission to advance the kingdom.”

According to the Christian Post, Patrick Stephen Miller, who previously served as the assistant director of children’s ministry, was accused of child abuse after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an article about the allegations against Miller.

Miller worked at the church from May 2014 to January 2016.

He was accused of taking an elementary-aged child into a closet on church property in 2015 and allegedly sat her on his lap, placed his hands in her pants and under her shirt, and sexually assaulted her.

According to reports, adults were elsewhere in the building.

He was not arrested until December 2018, and in January 2019, he was charged with second-degree sexual assault.

In January 2022, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge.

Miller had resigned from the job one year before Smith became pastor of the church, but Immanuel leaders were made aware of the allegations against Miller in March 2016.

“I wish we would have told you about these crimes sooner,” Smith told congregants a week ago after it was reported by the Democrat-Gazette.

“We recognize the importance of treating abusive behavior seriously. We intend to honor Christ in the way we care for anyone who’s experienced past abuse. If you have knowledge of any inappropriate behavior with children at Immanuel or anywhere else, please call the abuse hotline of the Little Rock Police Department,” he said.

In the Arkansas Baptist State Convention’s 2022 annual report, the church had 2,386 members, with an average worship attendance of 925.

Photo Courtesy: ‘2-17-23 Livestream | 10:30am Service | Dr. Steven Smith’/Immanuel Baptist Church via YouTube/12/19/23@11:20am

Video Courtesy: Immanuel Baptist Church via YouTube

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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