Baptist minister’s shocking admission
Members of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Alabama are in shock after their pastor, Juan Demetrius McFarland, above, admitted that he had sex with several female congregants without telling them he had AIDS.
McFarland didn’t hold back when he first revealed to worshippers at the church on September 14 that he contracted HIV in 2003 and discovered in 2008 he had AIDS.
A church member, who wanted to remain unnamed, said:
The church was very accepting of Reverend McFarland and was willing to help him in any way possible.
But after the pastor, with 23 years of leadership, started revealing more and more on subsequent Sundays, members and leaders say they realised he had crossed the line.
Later McFarland also admitted to drug use and mishandling of church funds. Deacon Nathan Williams Jr said:
He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS.
McFarland was removed as church pastor on October 5. Still, church members say some congregation members are afraid to come forward and many others are concerned.
Another unnamed church member asked:
Who does this to people? I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him and that she didn’t want this to go public, and she running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her. And my heart goes out to her because she’s been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen. The fact that he didn’t tell them at all. That’s a crime in itself.
Deacon Williams says he’s been a member of the church for 70 years, and this is the biggest scandal the church has ever experienced.
He confessed to the entire membership and then to the City of Montgomery, because as soon as he got done confessing, it went all over Montgomery anyway. So it’s nothing we [are] making up. It’s coming out of his mouth.
Williams says leaders have obtained legal counsel, and are now focused on moving the church forward.
Our moves are going to come directly from counsel. We want peace and we want to do things right, legally. We are not looking to hurt him. We are looking to get the church back. That’s our theme: Get the church back. We want the church back. That’s it.
But some members say they want justice. Another unnamed church member said:
I believe that he should be put on trial. Go to court and let the judge decide if he should go to jail or not. We tend to sweep things under the rug, especially if they’re the leader. It’s like ‘oh, no, please let’s not get this out’ but I think after this that they will have more discussions on HIV and AIDS.
McFarland holds the position of Moderator with the Alabama Middle District Baptist Association, which includes 34 churches across the state. Calls to association leaders indicate that currently there are no discussions to remove him from his position.