Dear Antioch Family,
I’m writing this letter today with tears in my eyes and deep pain in my heart regarding the sexual sin that causes pain and destruction for all who are involved.
Ed Espinosa, former Community Outreach Pastor at Antioch Community Church and local business owner, was arrested today by the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office for patronizing an illicit massage parlor. Because of our work with anti-trafficking through UnBound and our commitment to help expose sexual exploitation and provide healing and restoration to those affected by it, we have been aware that this day could come for Ed’s arrest on a misdemeanor charge of soliciting a prostitute. We waited to send an official press release until it happened so we did not humiliate and shame Ed or his family publicly, but at this time we wanted to bring clarity regarding our process over the last two months.
Here is a link to the press release we shared with the media today, but I wanted to share additional comments as a companion statement to our press release.
- Ed Espinosa has sinned. His sin has affected the people he sinned against, and it has also affected his family and this church family.
- Jesus died for sin; therefore, even as justice and consequence for sin is meted out, there must also be the hope of forgiveness, healing and restoration from it for all involved.
- When Ed came to our elders in December to disclose his actions, he was immediately put on administrative leave while we checked the facts and details. During that process he resigned on December 19th. If he had not resigned, he would have been let go according to our policies and submission to God’s Word of expectations and standards for leaders and overseers in the body.
- On December 20th we communicated with our staff that his resignation was related to immorality. However, we did not specify the details as there was an ongoing investigation from our sheriff’s department. A few weeks later, we sent a letter to all our church volunteer leaders about the general nature of Ed’s sin and what we were doing as a church to begin the restoration process for he and his family. In that letter we communicated that anyone affected negatively by Ed’s actions could come to us and we would help in any and every way possible. We also included a heartfelt apology from Ed where he asked the body for forgiveness.
- Going forward, and to clarify the expectations of our pastors, we absolutely, 100 percent reinforce, train, teach and hold accountable all of our pastors and staff for the highest moral integrity and character in every area of our lives. Each pastor has a manager who not only asks about their work, but also asks about how they are living out the values of the Kingdom, including holiness and purity. Ed had opportunity after opportunity to come clean on those issues before it got to a place of complete brokenness. Obviously, anytime something like this happens, all of us, need to pause and search our own hearts to make sure there is no seed growing that could cause a hurtful or harmful action. We will continue to not only search our own hearts, but also continue our detailed processes of accountability, evaluation and responsibility so our pastors and leaders preach the message of the gospel not just with our mouths, but with how we live our lives.
So, here we are, in need of the grace of God to be poured out again. We need Him to deliver us from sexual sin and brokenness so we might walk purely before God and be agents of healing, restoration and rescue.
In His strength and love,
Jimmy Seibert and the Elders