Official Statement from StoneBridge
We are heartbroken to learn of the continued pain and emotional suffering that Jules Woodson is experiencing as the result of the sexual misconduct of our former staff member, Andy Savage, in 1998. We encourage our church family to be in earnest prayer for all those involved, but especially for Jules that through this process, she will experience healing and a peace that only God can bring.
In 1998, Andy Savage was 22 years old and was our Youth Minister. Jules was a 17 year-old high school senior. The church was made aware of the misconduct when both Jules and Andy independently came forward to Associate Pastor Larry Cotton to report the incident. Andy was removed from his ministerial duties, while a committee of church elders was asked to review the incident, including both Jules’ and Andy’s accounts. As a result of the committee review, and after meeting with Jules’ family, Andy was terminated. Andy confessed, accepted responsibility and asked for forgiveness from Jules, her parents, her discipleship group, and the church staff. The church body was informed during Sunday morning services. To suggest that anyone at Stonebridge participated in a conspiracy to silence Jules, or ignored the misconduct, is simply not accurate.
Respecting the wishes of the family to protect Jules, no details of the event were publicly disclosed. We are hurt and saddened that our actions 20 years ago continue to cause pain today. Looking back at this incident twenty years later, it is apparent that we could have done more to focus on and minister to Jules and the pain that she was experiencing. For that, we too ask for Jules’ and her family’s forgiveness.
It is our utmost desire to provide a place where every child and youth in our church family are cared for and protected in a safe environment. In order to enhance the processes already in place, we are hiring an outside firm to evaluate our current policies and procedures and give us recommendations to ensure that we have a comprehensive system that continues to safeguard the children in our care. They will also be asked to assist us in enhancing the training for our staff and volunteers in those areas.
It is our deep desire for StoneBridge to be a place where all those who are broken and hurting can come experience God’s love, comfort, healing and hope.