Lead Pastor of Highlands Community Church in Washington State Resigns Over DUI Arrest After Executive Pastor Was Fired Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Jesse Campbell is the former lead pastor of Highlands Community Church in Renton, Wash. | Highlands Community Church

Highlands Community Church in Renton, Washington, is trying to find healing after losing three pastors in the last few months, including their lead pastor, Jesse Campbell, who resigned after elders discovered he lied to them about the details of a DUI arrest.

“We as Elders acknowledge our responsibility for the hurt that has resulted from undetected sin and dysfunction. We apologize to you for this,” the Highlands Board of Elders said in a Dec. 2 statement. “In God’s power, we are determined to be more vigilant to prevent this in the future. In all of this, we ask for your prayers for us as Elders: for His guidance, for our humility, for wisdom, discernment, clarity, unity, strength, and perseverance in the work which God has called us to do for you – His church.”

The church also announced that they had hired a consultant from the Christian Slingshot Group to help them with staffing going forward.

Earlier, they hired the Boz Tchividjian-led GRACE to conduct an independent investigation of multiple allegations of sex abuse against the church’s former executive pastor, Derek Nelson, who was fired over the summer as the nation was in the throes of protests and the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our elders and staff have had introductory meetings with the assigned consultant, who also serves as an elder in his own church. He is actively meeting with each HCC elder and staff member to prayerfully assess our situation and recommend next steps for us. We are thankful for God’s provision of this assistance, and we’ll keep you posted on the process and recommendations. And thank you for the recommendations that YOU have provided – we are reviewing each one as we look to God for His guidance for our church’s future,” the elders wrote.

Derek Nelson is the former executive pastor of Highlands Community Church in Renton, Wash. | Highlands Community Church

Campbell, their most recent lead pastor, was hired in 2018 amid much fanfare as he was their first new lead pastor in almost 30 years and their third since the church was founded in 1946.

The previous lead pastor, Jim Amandus, passed the Shepherd’s hook — a tall, carved wooden staff the church’s founder got from Israel — to Campbell on Nov. 20, 2018, the Renton Reporter said.

“Pastoral leadership is not for the faint of heart. Short tenure due to discouragement, burnout, and moral failure are all too common,” church spokesperson David Newcomb told the Renton Reporter in December 2018. “Highlands Community Church has been blessed with faithful, God honoring leaders who have stayed the course through the highs and lows of ministry.”

Campbell was pulled over by police on Jan. 18, 2019, for a moving violation and he was found to be under the influence of alcohol, according to an August statement from the elders.

“The Board Leadership team met initially with Jesse and his wife at their home where he openly and thoroughly confessed to drinking alcohol while snowboarding the prior evening, and subsequently getting pulled over. Jesse was alone when the infraction occurred. Although Jesse was initially charged with a DUI, the charges were dismissed,” they initially said about the incident.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair

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