A South Carolina church announced this week that a student pastor was placed on administrative leave after he gave teens stickers that said, “I love hot youth pastors.”
“Our student pastor, Cory Wall, acknowledges that he made a poor decision and a mistake by making a sticker available that was offensive to some,” Fairview Baptist Church said in a statement by deacons and their personnel team on Sunday.
In addition to placing Wall on administrative leave, he will not be involved in “student leadership responsibilities” while the church investigates the matter.
“There will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation,” the church leaders added. “We take this matter very seriously and want to be proactive as we move forward. Our main goal is to always make our campus a safe place for anyone who attends.”
According to The Christian Post, the church’s announcement comes after a picture of the sticker was posted on social media and sparked backlash online.
Last Thursday, Emily Petrini posted a picture of the sticker on Twitter after her best friend, who lives in South Carolina, sent it to her from her local mom group.
“The youth pastor gave my younger sister (14 years old) and other students this sticker during Midweek last night. He is 35 years old... This made her very uncomfortable,” the post from the mom group read.
My best friend lives in South Carolina and sent me this SS from her local mom group and I just…..cannot. pic.twitter.com/Z3iw4bE8c1— emily petrini (@emilykmay) October 6, 2022
Amy Smith, a sexual abuse survivor advocate, commented on the incident on Twitter, calling the sticker “disgusting.” She also emailed Lead Pastor Eddie Leopard and expressed concerns over Wall, accusing him of discussing a porn addiction with students.
I’m told that this disgusting sticker is from student pastor Cory Wall at Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, SC (SBC church). @fairviewgreer #sbctoo #sbc22 #thisisthesbc #churchtoo pic.twitter.com/XPdSvBUqVt— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) October 7, 2022
“I’m very disturbed about the inappropriate behavior of your youth pastor Cory Wall. Your email to church members excusing his behavior is also very disturbing. His discussion of his porn addiction with kids is very concerning, in addition to his decision to pass out those offensive stickers. He’s displaying grooming behaviors. I think kids very likely are at risk of sexual abuse in your church. Please do the right thing and remove him from his position immediately,” Smith wrote in the email.
My email to lead pastor Eddie Leopard @fairviewgreer #SBCtoo #ThisistheSBC #churchtoo pic.twitter.com/EaLZaoPePK— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) October 7, 2022
After the sticker controversy came to light, Wall reportedly emailed the woman who posted about it online and explained that it was meant to poke fun at “I Love Hot Mom” culture.
“Let me assure you that my intentions were pure. [The] last thing I wanted to do was to make you, your sister, or anyone else in attendance feel uncomfortable,” Wall wrote.
“The sticker was meant to poke fun [at] the ‘I Love Hot Mom’ culture. In hindsight, the joke was of very poor taste and a mistake on my part. I do apologize for their distribution.”
Fairview Baptist welcomed Wall, who obtained a bachelor’s of psychology at North Greenville University and a master’s degree from Southeastern Theological Seminary, as a student pastor in January. He spent the last 14 years serving in North and South Carolina churches in “the areas of students and college.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brian A. Jackson
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.