The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Trent Ivey, a youth pastor at Vestal Baptist Church in South Knox, Tennessee, was arrested on sexual battery charges in 2021. Vestal Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Ivey is currently awaiting trial.
At Vestal Baptist church [sic] in South Knox, it’s a small congregation of about 50 people. Over a year ago, there were more than 100 people there before many left after an incident that Pastor Arnold Greene wished he could forget.
Youth Pastor Trent Ivey was arrested back in August of 2021 and charged with sexual battery by an authority figure, and also faced accusations of distributing inappropriate material to minors at his time at Vestal Baptist, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
“He was inappropriate with two young females from what I understand,” said Greene who claimed it was a 16 and 18-year-old in his congregation.
According to the Knox County Sheriffs Office, Ivey made bail at $40,000 the same day he was arrested and will have a court date in 2024.
The youth pastor of two years was [sic] listed in the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry.
According to Greene, he was “shocked” to learn of the allegations against Ivey, and said he had no knowledge of it. In fact, six months prior, Greene fired Ivey claiming it was due to “insubordination” and had nothing to do with the accusations of misconduct since the pastor didn’t know about it at that point.
Greene said he learned of the misconduct months later when one of the victims told somebody who then told him. A pastor of nine years who couldn’t help but feel a little guilt after serious accusations were being brought forth on one of his former employees.
“In some ways I do but you trust people until you can’t,” said Greene.
Greene said Ivey grew up in the church alongside multiple generations of his family, so he had no reason not to trust him. After his exit and subsequent arrest, Greene felt betrayed and hasn’t hired a new youth pastor more than a year later.
“It’s hard to move on it’s hard to get someone you trust,” said Greene.
The records of what exactly happened involving the charges are sealed because they involve minors, and therefore have not been made available, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
Pastor Greene is a Southern Baptist. Surely he knows that his chosen denomination has a huge sexual abuse problem; a scandal of epic proportions. Thus, I am somewhat perplexed by his naivety. As he has now learned, ANYONE in his church can be a sexual predator. Naively trusting people because they are saved, or regularly attend church, or you have known them for years is an abrogation of your responsibility to provide a safe environment for church children. I wonder if Vestal Baptist requires annual state and federal background checks for anyone who works with children or is in a position of authority? What procedures are in place to protect children from predators? Of course, it is uncertain whether the alleged crimes took place at the church or involved church children. We shall await further disclosures.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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