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Voice of the people

Sep. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Pastor undermined church's credibility

The Herald-Dispatch of Thursday, Sept. 12, carried a news story about the forced resignation of the pastor of a small West Virginia church for lending the church's bus to the police for use in a drug bust. Something about the article troubled me. It left the impression that the church was unjustly punishing its pastor for having performed a good deed.

Going online, I found the story reported in greater detail, revealing that the pastor, Chris Wilkinson, is also mayor and police chief of Hamlin, W.Va., and that he had loaned the church bus to the county sheriff's department on this and a prior occasion, without the church's permission. Sheriff's deputies used the bus as a cover to reach the scene of suspected criminal activity, undetected by the perpetrators' lookouts. Pastor Wilkinson expressed no regret for his actions and stated that he would do it again if asked.

When all the facts are presented, it becomes clear that, heretofore, whenever Wilkinson's responsibilities as a law enforcement officer have conflicted with his responsibilities as pastor, he has resolved that conflict in a manner that is clearly contrary to the interests of the church. And he stands ready do it again.

It is the mission of the church to save souls, not catch criminals. By allowing sheriff's deputies to use the church's identity as a disguise for deceiving those suspected of crime, he has done irreparable harm to the church's credibility and undermined its ability to carry out its primary mission. Hereafter, when folks in the community see the church bus they will likely envision not Christ's emissaries but cops in disguise.

By omitting from the published article salient and critical facts, The Herald-Dispatch has allowed the truth to be obscured and a false impression to be created.

Lawrence L. Pauley

Huntington

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