The senior pastor of Morningside Community Church in Brookings says he and the congregation are trying to minister to "everyone involved," in the sex crime of a former pastor sentenced this week to prison. The congregation changed its name late last year to Abundant Life.
Tim Bariteau, Morningside's worship pastor until last summer, is headed to prison after being sentenced this week to eight years for having sexual contact with a child.
Bariteau, 38, was sentenced to 12 years in prison with four years suspended, according to news reports. Because it was ruled a crime of violence, he must serve at least half the time before he’s eligible for parole, Brookings Radio reported. He faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.
He will be credited with 305 days he’s served since his arrest and he must register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victim.
Bariteau was indicted last November and arrested in California, where he had been living. He was convicted in June after a Brookings County jury deliberated for about five hours, according to The Associated Press.
The crime against a child younger than 16 occurred in April or May of 2014 when Bariteau was one of the pastors at Morningside in Brookings.
Bariteau was married with children and he used social media to talk about his ministry, which involved leading worship, playing guitar, singing and writing songs.
He posted songs on social media, including his own twist on the well-known modern Christian song, "Father, I Adore You, " as "Father, You Adore Me."
His 2012 performance of it can be seen online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlRBIZAFONs.
Bariteau came to Morningside in 2005 and was worship pastor, leading the singing at services, said the Rev. Joe Ganahl, the senior, or lead, pastor of what is now named Abundant Life.
Bariteau was not, as had been reported earlier, a youth pastor for Morningside, Ganahl said.
Ganahl attended Bariteau’s trial and sentencing, he said.
“It’s been a very difficult time for our church,” Ganahl told the Capital Journal on Thursday. “We are trying to minister to Tim and his family and the girl and her family and everyone involved. This was an isolated issue involving one guy and it doesn’t reflect our whole church. It’s been very hurtful to everyone.”
The congregation has had several meetings to talk about Bariteau’s crime, his case and its effects.
“We evaluated the way we do things in all our programs,” he said.
Morningside is part of the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), that began in the 1880s out of the Wesleyan evangelical tradition, with common roots with Methodist and Nazarene denominations.
Morningside has been in its building for about 50 years, Ganahl said.
Bariteau grew up in California and did not attend theological seminary as many pastors do.
But he went through the Church of God’s lengthy alternative process to be ordained as a pastor in the denomination without a seminary degree. The group reports having about 2,200 congregations in North America and more than a million adherents worldwide.
Bariteau’s standing with the denomination and the congregation was put on hold a year ago at his arrest. Since his conviction, denomination leaders are in the process of revoking Bariteau’s pastoral credentials, a process in which he and Morningside, or Abundant Life, have no direct role, Ganahl said.
“You never want to see anything like this,” Ganahl said. “It’s sad.”