“There is a great and growing need to promote awareness of particular issues within Reformed Baptist churches in America. Sadly there are congregations in America unaware of sin that is going on behind closed doors in their own church, their sister churches or their associational churches. Despite the fact that on paper these churches are supposed to be ruled by the congregation, they are not given the opportunity to evaluate facts or even be informed of situations that tarnish the Name of Christ, bring reproach upon the Church and devastate the lives of many.”
–Awareness in Reformed Baptist Churches of America
Source: The Star-Telegram
“The church is suffering greatly – by her own hands. Self-injury, whether by individuals or institutions, invariably involves faulty thinking that is born out of self-deception. Many of us are grieved at the wreckage in the church that occurs when victims are silenced, abusers are protected, power is abused and “truth” is disseminated to the less powerful. The body of our Lord is sick.”
-Diane Langberg, Ph.D. “Dear Church: Hear the Word of the Lord”
Thomas Chantry, the former ARBCA pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, was arrested and jailed in 2016. Now out on bail, he awaits trial in Arizona on five counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated assault involving five children. (Read more about the Chantry case and alleged ARBCA cover-up here.)
Jeff Crippen, a pastor whose church formerly belonged to the ARBCA denomination has spoken boldly about the corruption amongst the leaders in the ARBCA. He said in part:
I have spoken to people who do in fact know the facts about the Chantry coverup. Yes, there was certainly a coverup by ARBCA although most of us had no idea the situation even existed. Those who served on the investigative committee that looked into the allegations at Miller Valley against Chantry VERY MUCH need to come right out in the public view and tell the world that in fact there was a recommendation for the charges against Chantry to be announced to the entire association. If myself and others are wrong about that, then I ask the members of the investigative committee to say so publicly. But I believe you will find that this recommendation was squashed by some of the very same bullying individuals who still hold power in the association.
…It’s housecleaning time brothers and sisters!! Tell your stories. Let’s find out who is responsible for covering this whole thing up, and let’s hold them accountable for it. The division in ARBCA was NOT the result of “an honest disagreement over doctrine” between brothers in Christ. No. Stop thinking that or saying it. The division happened because there is sin in the camp and the Lord has set up to expose it.
December 27, 2016
It would appear Pastor Crippen’s words were prophetic.
Marybeth Arnold and Amanda Hodson both allege that they were sexually abused by Ben Cole. All three of them attended Heritage Baptist Church. Marybeth Arnold and Amanda Hodson were juveniles, Ben Cole had reached the age of majority. The pastors at Heritage Baptist Church became aware of the sexual abuse and did not inform Law Enforcement. In the state of Texas, that is a crime and Texas takes it seriously, as you can see from the article below.
Of course, the pastors of Heritage Baptist deny having covered up the sexual abuse of Marybeth Arnold and Amanda Hodson. In a statement emailed to the Star-Telegram they said:
“Because many people have been deeply wounded by these false allegations we believe the following statements will clarify the issues for you. In 2003, an allegation of sexual misconduct was made against Mr. Ben Cole by a young lady in our church. With our involvement and our encouragement, a complaint was made to the Mansfield Police Department. Mr. Cole was arrested and later no-billed by the Tarrant County DA and Grand Jury.
In subsequent years we never received another allegation from anyone in the church alleging sexual misconduct on the part of Mr. Ben Cole. Any allegations to the contrary are entirely false.”
I have emailed both Larry Vincent and Steve Garrick seeking any comments they may have. Unsurprisingly, they have not responded. Sorry guys, but I believe the ladies. The pastor’s lack of action when they became aware of the sexual abuse suffered by Marybeth and Amanda was morally reprehensible and criminal. The statement above speaks loud and clear to their continuing lack of character.
Ben Cole, 35, was arrested on Aug. 17 and charged with two counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony and online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony. On March 19, Cole pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for an 8-year prison sentence. There is no telling how many girls Ben Cole has abused between the time the Heritage Baptist pastors became aware that he was a predator and his arrest but as Marybeth stated in the quote below, the pastors are culpable.
Marybeth and Amanda Hodson recently filed reports with Mansfield police about Cole’s sexual contact with them, prompting an investigation. They’re talking to attorneys about possible civil litigation and pushing for the pastors to be held accountable for what they didn’t do all those years ago.
“I want the pastors to realize that they are culpable for all the abuse that Ben inflicted on people since they knew that he preyed on children,” said Marybeth, now a 28-year-old nurse living in San Antonio. “… They protected him and they allowed it to continue.”
Below are two poignant clips taken from a video contained in the Star-Telegram’s article. You may view the whole video here. First, you will hear from Marybeth Arnold, and then in the second clip, from Amanda Hodson.
Below are photos of the three men who were pastors at Heritage Baptist Church. Larry Vincent and Jarrett Downs are still pastors there. Steve Garrick was sent from Heritage Baptist to plant a new church, Emmanuel Baptist, in Georgetown, Texas.
Larry Vincent is one of the leaders in the inner circle of the ARBCA. Below is a photo of the ARBCA Administrative Council of 2016. Other powerful men in the ARBCA include John Giarrizzo, Al Huber, Steve Martin, Earl Blackburn, Jeff Massey, and David Dykstra.
Al Huber is the father-in-law of Thomas Chantry and reportedly bankrolling the legal defense of Chantry. He is a pastor at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois.
John Giarrizzo is the former Chairman of the ARBCA Administrative Council. Earl Blackburn is the current Chairman. Jeff Massey is the Vice Chairman. Steve Martin is the Coordinator for the ARBCA. David Dykstra is notable for having co-authored a book with Thomas Chantry. Titled “Holding Communion Together,” the book was quite controversial within the ARBCA and it’s doubtful many outside of the ARBCA have heard of, much less read the book.
On Sunday, April 1, Heritage Baptist reverted to the playbook used by so many pastors in similar situations. Aware that the Star-Telegram would soon be publishing a story which would portray Heritage Baptist pastors in a truthful, and therefore unfavorable light, Pastor Price Jones deviated from their usual Sunday morning series of preaching through the book of Genesis and made a quick foray into the book of Ephesians. It seems clear to me that the Heritage Baptist leaders were attempting a preemptive strike against the upcoming bad news they knew the “elect” would be reading about in the Star-Telegram. As you can read and hear below, Price Jones alerted his flock that they would be facing persecution from Satan and his minions. And then, in what I can only describe as a breathtaking, cult-like pronouncement akin to what I have heard from another pastor named Jones, (first name Jim), Price Jones tells his Kool-Aid swilling faithful that the women who have brought forward credible charges of sexual abuse are actually demon possessed!
Stand Firm and Keep Alert!
Price Jones-April 1, 2018-Ephesians 6:10-20
“I want you to notice, brothers and sisters, that we as a congregation are surrounded by the devil and his demons. We do not wrestle as a church, as a congregation, with flesh and blood. Men are not our enemies, not directly. Not the nations. Not individuals.
Our church right now is suffering a measure of persecution. There are men and women who are hurling false accusations against us and against our leadership but, brothers and sisters, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, we do not wrestle with these particular individuals. They have been taken captive by Satan to do his will, and I admit it was an easy victory because of the corruption and the sin that’s in our hearts, in the human heart, but they are not our enemy. It’s the one who is at work in them and through them and behind them, which is the devil and his demons.”
-Pastor Price Jones, Excerpt from Stand Firm and Keep Alert, April 1, 2018
Is it any wonder we see reviews like those below of Heritage Baptist Church?
Did you notice the author of this comment said that lead pastor Larry Vincent’s son-in-law had an affair with a much younger woman and it was handled secretly? That same son-in-law is now a pastor at Heritage Baptist Church. Who is this pastor? None other than Price Jones, the guy who claimed that the sexually abused women who were “hurling false accusations against us and against our leadership” are demon possessed!
I emailed Peter, the author of the Yelp review above, to get some more information on Price Jones. This is what he shared with me:
He [Larry Vincent] recently got his son-in-law, Price Jones, elected as an elder. In the selection committee meeting prior to the congregation election, someone asked to discuss his affair (only a few members know) and Larry yelled at the person and then that whole family left the church. He [Price Jones] then was elected and has been preaching on Sundays.As for any other details on Price’s affair, I have very little. I know it was about 10 years ago, and am not going to reveal the name of the other woman involved as it is matters little to the overall story. She was much younger than him, but it was legal and consensual to my knowledge. The family of the woman he slept with was pushed out of the church as a result, but it was all dealt with secretly because my dad was a deacon at the time and knew nothing about it until later. I have heard the story from the grapevine if you will, but have been told the same facts by multiple unconnected people and it was confirmed by the best friend at the time of Abby Jones, Price’s wife.
I should also mention that Larry Vincent’s son, Matthew Vincent is now a pastor at Emmanuel Baptist, along with Steve Garrick.
I was also put in contact with Jessica Walls. She was in an abusive marriage and then further spiritually abused by the pastors of Heritage Baptist. She gave me permission to share her story. Jessica is the sister of Amanda Hodson, one of the women who was sexually abused by Ben Cole. I should add that Jessica said, “I do want to note, I have a civil relationship with my ex now that he is out of the clutches of the church doctrine, and he no longer identifies as religious in any way.”
“Here is my rather long winded story, that I posted on my wall and on Peter’s post. I will add that while at Heritage, I always felt like an outsider. Like I wasn’t “elite” enough to be part of certain groups or activities. Like certain people were only nice to me out of some sort of strange sense of duty, but it was all fake.Content warning since I know many of us here have been through a lot: Domestic violence, rape, mention of the molestation.My sister’s strength in telling her story has made me realize, I need to be very clear about the role Heritage Baptist church and the elders there played during my exit of my abusive marriage.I was so young. At 17, I started “courtship” with a young man I’d met in English class. Courtship had been drilled into my head, with lines like “dating is practice for divorce”. So once I started courting him, essentially we were already married in my mind. So when he started to insist I call him any time I had free time, I was flattered. When my mom asked if I was ok with him being a bit controlling, I said I was. I didn’t know what that would lead to; I was a kid.Premarital counseling at Heritage was a joke. Sure, it would’ve been fine for someone whose future husband wasn’t controlling, but to my now-ex, it was exactly the fuel he needed to know he could do whatever he wanted to me, and they would support him because my entire role as a wife and female person was to submit to the men in my life. It set him up to believe that as he ramped up the abuse, it was my fault. Was he already set up to be abusive? Yes, absolutely, but Heritage told him it was how to be a good man, so of course it appealed greatly to him.Then of course, came the actual marriage. I knew I wasn’t happy pretty early on. In fact, I remember telling Amanda fairly soon after I got married that I couldn’t imagine growing old with him. But it was my duty to be his wife, it was just how things were.I have to be frank, our sex life was…awful. All about him. I don’t think I even realized women could have an orgasm until several months into our marriage. Even then, I can count on one hand the number of times it happened during my marriage. Actually I’m not certain it ever did. He was pushy, insisted on sex when I didn’t feel good, when we had friends over (I distinctly remember him forcing me to have sex in the closet once, I was humiliated because we had guests over and I wanted to spend time with them), pretty much whenever he wanted to. Of course, there were times I wanted to that he would ignore me, sometimes even for days. I was a toy for his pleasure.I left him. Right after I graduated college, I left for a few months. I couldn’t put into words WHY I left. I had no vocabulary that included things like emotional abuse or spousal rape. I just knew I wasn’t happy and couldn’t live that way. I spoke with my parents, and the pastors at Heritage. They all insisted that coming back and getting counseling with them would fix this. It had to be counseling with them, because “outside counselors” wouldn’t understand the wifely submission aspect, and would support me in the “sin” of standing up to him. They eventually wore me down. He showed a new face to family and friends. I was essentially told that if I didn’t come back, I was disobeying God and might as well not consider myself a Christian.The counseling session where I came back was one of the most humiliating things I’ve ever gone through. The issues with him were glossed over, and the big question was asked: did you have relations with anyone else while separated? I did. I’m not embarrassed by that, I had actually filed for divorce, the marriage was over in my mind and I had no intention of returning until I was guilted into it. I didn’t want to tell the pastors, men I had known since I was a child. I asked to talk to my then husband alone. When they came back in, they wouldn’t let it go and I had to tell them. They then told him that he had the right to divorce ME if he wanted to. Of course he didn’t, he just got his favorite toy back.Coming back, a lot of things got worse. He could now hold my “indiscretions” over my head, and used those to threaten me into sex constantly. If I didn’t have sex, I didn’t love him as much as the other guy. Or maybe I was cheating. I wasn’t, but those accusations hurt.So, I surmised the best way to make them stop was to PROVE I would stay with him, because it was still drilled into my head that everything was my fault so I had to fix it. I stopped taking the pill, got pregnant right away by some miracle (fertility issues). Instead of improving, things got much, MUCH worse.My pregnancy was difficult. I was on and off bedrest the entire time. The doctor was clear, that meant pelvic rest too. The first time he insisted on sex anyway, I tried everything else. Offered other options, even asked him to watch porn and take care of himself instead. He insisted that was disrespectful to me and he “needed” sex. I remember lying there afterwards, quietly sobbing, as each contraction made me wonder if my baby was about to die.That didn’t only happen once.When Hunter was about a year and a half old, the emotional abuse increased dramatically. Things that don’t seem big til you’re outside them and finally see it. I got rid of a dog because I couldn’t handle his constant (serious) threats to kill it for needing things like walks and food. Refusing to leave the room during arguments. I was afraid of him. There were times I was sure he would hurt me. I brought these fears to the pastors of Heritage. They encouraged (gasp) more submission. They counseled him, but I don’t know what they said. The time I feared most for my safety was after he found out I told the pastors about his actions.When I finally got the courage to leave, I got phone calls and letters from the church, long winded diatribes on how unsubmissive I was being to both my husband and God. I knew their thoughts on it getting better were empty now. I had traveled that path once already.I was eventually excommunicated. This involves a meeting of everyone in the church, discussing my “sins” and proclaiming me an unbeliever since I refuse to repent. From what I’ve heard, my ex’s abuse wasn’t mentioned at all, just my “rebellion”. My own brother was told I left because I wanted a career and my ex wouldn’t let me, which wasn’t even a factor in any way. He later found out the real story from my mother as kind of a side note in which she didn’t act like it was a big deal. My ex was quietly removed from membership; no meeting or sharing of sins.I have spent years trying to clear the damage that was done to me by my ex and by the church. It took a long time (and a lot of patience by my wonderful current husband) to begin to be able to enjoy sex without fear. It took just as long to stop having PTSD panic attacks when entering a church building, or hearing certain Christian songs. I still don’t attend church, and honestly at this point I’m not sure I’ll get to the point where I’m healed enough for that to be an option. I’m ok with that.Why am I sharing all of this now? Because Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield Texas deserves to be called out for their part in supporting the abuse of women and children. Heritage Baptist Church deserves to lose their standing as a place of worship, a place where people generally assume they are safe and cared for. Heritage and their propensity to cover up spousal abuse and child molestation, on AT LEAST TWO COUNTS IN MY FAMILY ALONE, along with several others I’ve been told about, deserve to be held accountable to the law. They will be accountable to God in time, if there is anyone left who believes in him after Heritage shows them the demented and deformed version of a deity they worship.”
Jessica shared the letters she received from the pastors of Heritage Baptist while she was going through this extremely turbulent time in her life. She has given me permission to post them here. She also shared some correspondence she had with her father from the same time period. While she said I could post them, I have chosen not to. Her parents remain members of Heritage Baptist church and it appears their relationship with Amanda, Jessica, and one brother are severely strained. While the father’s correspondence allows a fascinating glimpse into the mindset of a loyal Heritage Baptist member, it is my prayer that someday Jessica’s parents will be reconciled with their children.
I will leave you with one last item. The ARBCA will be starting their own seminary this Fall. Initially, the seminary will be located at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield Texas!
Truth is stranger than fiction!
The year of our Lord 2018 brings great excitement to the Reformed Baptist movement, a growing group of like-minded believers with a network that crosses the globe.
It is evident that, to our great joy, the doors will open this year for the inaugural class of IRBS Theological Seminary, the Lord willing.
The IRBS Trustees began formal consideration of a standalone seminary in 2015. A feasibility study was conducted and fund-raising began soon afterward. As deliberation continued, it became evident that the best location for the seminary is Mansfield, Texas, close to the heart of U.S. transportation and close to multiple ARBCA churches that can host students as members, interns and participants in ministry.
-Source: The ARBCA Update, Winter 2018.
History was made once again at this G.A. as the messengers voted by a margin of 64-4 to approve IRBS to begin operations as a full stand-alone Reformed Baptist seminary as soon as the fall of 2018.
The initial location will be in the facilities of Heritage Baptist Church of Mansfield, Texas.
-Source: The ARBCA Update, Spring 2017.