A retired pastor from Mobile and a Birmingham-area church have both been falsely tied to the abuser list that was recently released by the Southern Baptist Convention.
Pastor Charles Brown
Retired Mobile pastor Charles Brown, 79, has found himself navigating a situation he never anticipated — clearing his name for someone else’s misconduct.
“In a three-minute news cast, 80 years of my life and ministry went down the tubes,” Brown told The Baptist Paper on May 28 as he shared the devastation he has endured since the May 27 noon news story incorrectly reported by NBC 15 in Mobile.
The correction reported by the station during the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. news casts the same day stated, “In our story we identified the names of church leaders from our area who were on the SBC’s alleged sex abuser list … the names identified and their church affiliations were correct, however, the picture we showed for one of the people on that list was not.”
That’s where the two names were mixed up. The Charles Brown on the list is not the Charles Brown who retired from Government Street Baptist Church in Mobile earlier this year after nearly 45 years as pastor.
On the SBC alleged abuser list, a Charles Brown is listed on page 26 as pastor of London Baptist Church in Evergreen, Alabama, and as having been convicted in 1987 of “abusing a teenage boy in 1986.” According to the report, he was given a suspended sentence. Additional information noted London Baptist Church is in Castleberry, “that is next to Evergreen.”
How the reporter developing the story at NBC 15 in Mobile determined the Charles Brown of London Baptist in 1987 was the same Charles Brown who now serves as pastor emeritus of Government Street Baptist in Mobile is unclear.
Mobile’s Charles Brown, who talked with a supervisor at the station, said the station representative apologized and acknowledged the mistake. The representative would not provide the reporter’s name nor exactly what happened but did confirm proper reporting channels were not followed, Brown added.
Ministry leaders across the state also jumped into action to help spread the word of the mistake and affirm the credibility of his name, a name highly regarded not only by the Government Street Baptist congregation but well beyond.
The City of Mobile declared Jan. 16, 2022, to be Dr. Charles E. Brown Day in his honor.
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, told The Baptist Paper, “I’ve known Charles Brown for more than three decades. He is a dear friend of mine and a faithful colleague in ministry. Charles serves as a trustee on our State Board of Missions and executive committee. I believe in him as a Christian leader without equivocation.”
C. Thomas Wright, executive director of missions for Mobile Baptist Association, has known Brown for 18 years and worked with the minister’s fellowship group to send out an email alert as soon as they were made aware of the situation May 27.
The email described what happened and concluded with “Channel 15 has issued a correction but many may not see it. Please let others know of the mistake. Dr. Charles Brown of Mobile, AL, former pastor of Government Str. is innocent. Satan is alive and well and continues to try and destroy God’s men and women.”
When the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee made public a list of alleged sexual abusers with Baptist connections, one Birmingham-area church realized a significant error.
The report wrongly states on page 68 that Luis Federico Garcia, who was convicted in 2007 of three counts of sexual abuse in Shelby County, was “pastor of Spanish ministries” at First Baptist Church Pelham. Though Garcia led a Hispanic congregation in Pelham that used space formerly occupied by FBC Pelham, he was never on staff at the church, said pastor emeritus Mike Shaw, who led FBC Pelham from 1979 to 2014.
“In February 2000, we moved to a new property, leaving our former sanctuary empty,” Shaw explained. “Luis Garcia came to us one Sunday and asked to rent our old building for a church for Hispanics he had started in Pelham. I talked to our staff and deacons, and they agreed to let him use the old sanctuary.”
As a precaution, Shaw said he conducted a background check on Garcia through the Shelby County sheriff’s office. That check showed only a traffic ticket. But then an FBC Pelham custodial staff member who attended Garcia’s church confided to a member of FBC Pelham that Garcia had molested her daughter. When Shaw learned of the abuse, he confronted Garcia, who admitted to the abuse. Shaw filed the complaint with the Pelham Police Department that resulted in Garcia’s conviction.
The EC’s report said Garcia later admitted to molesting 23 victims ages 5–13 in both Alabama and New Jersey. Following his conviction, Garcia moved out of the country.
FBC Pelham Pastor Daven Watkins confirmed the details Shaw provided in a statement read to the church on Sunday, May 29.
Click here and here to read the full stories on The Alabama Baptist website.