Beliefnet News

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

A minister to married adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church, a prominent Dallas-area Southern Baptist megachurch, has resigned after being charged in an Internet sex sting.
Joe Barron, 52, was charged Friday (May 16) with soliciting a minor online, the Associated Press reported. Police said he had communications of a sexual nature with undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old girl for a couple of weeks and then drove almost 200 miles to meet her in Bryan, Texas, where he was arrested.
“We are appalled by the disgraceful and grievous actions and subsequent arrest of one of our ministers,” Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told his congregation Sunday. “I am so very, very sorry for the injury this has caused to individuals and certainly our testimony in the community.”
Graham said the church requested and received Barron’s resignation.
“We have taken a hit from the enemy, a huge hit, and the Scripture is true,” Graham said. “Satan is roaming about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, but I’m certain by the grace and the power of Jesus that we will rise above this dark hole.”
A written statement from the church in Plano, Texas, added that staffers will cooperate with the police investigation.
“We have not had record or knowledge of prior improprieties, or observed any inappropriate behavior in the 18 months Joe Barron has served on our staff as one of our ministers to married adults,” it reads.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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