Predator out, church plans 'soul-searching'

August 25, 2007

BY SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH Religion Reporter shogan@suntimes.com

The Rev. Charles Hamby, inset, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Romeoville (Keith Hale/Sun-Times)

A Romeoville church that elevated a convicted sex offender to leadership decided Friday to spend the next four months "soul-searching."

The church canceled last week's worship after abrupt resignations by its pastor, the Rev. Charles Hamby, and by ex-con and longtime church leader Jeff Hannah.

The church canceled last week's worship after abrupt resignations by its pastor, the Rev. Charles Hamby, and by ex-con and longtime church leader Jeff Hannah.

Twenty-seven church members met privately Friday with Dan Eddington, director of a regional Southern Baptist association.

Twenty-seven church members met privately Friday with Dan Eddington, director of a regional Southern Baptist association.

"I will be guiding them through a period of repentance and reflection to determine the future of the church, if any," said Eddington, who will serve as interim pastor.

No worship will be held Sunday, but services will start again Sept. 2, Eddington said.

Hamby, who was divorced when hired by the church last year, became a lightning rod after he remarried a few months later. Several members with strict views about marriage left.

But for years, members had welcomed Hannah to preach full-time, teach Sunday school and lead worship music, despite his crimes. He continued in leadership even after Hamby's hire.

Hannah spent just over four years in prison after being convicted in 1996 for having sexual relations with four teen girls while a youth minister at Crossroads Church, then in Libertyville.

Some Romeoville church members said Hannah was elevated to leadership, despite warnings from the Crossroads Church, because the Bible teaches forgiveness. But others said they never realized the scope of his crimes.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/527720,CST-NWS-baptist25.article#

See also:

Sex offender back in pulpit, 8/20/07

Double Trouble (Sex offender tapped another child molester for worship role.) 8/21/07

No Predators in the Pulpit (Chicago Sun-Times editorial) 8/22/07

See also the 1996 article about Jeffrey Hannah's prior conviction:

"Ex-Pastor Sentenced to 9 Years"

   
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