Elder Response February 25, 2023

Feb 25, 2023

In recent days, a series of allegations have been made by past members and staff of Eastview Christian Church (“ECC”). The communications specifically address alleged instances of abuse against adult women by Caleb Baker, a former pastor, as well as specific instances of alleged abusive power dynamic and cover-up by church leadership in 2016. The allegations raise concerns as to the culture and health of ECC in 2016 and today.

The Elders and ECC leadership are committed to responding to these allegations in a godly way that prioritizes truth and the safety and healing of past and present staff members of our church, and others who may have been harmed by abuse or an unhealthy culture. We are committed to pursue all allegations to determine what occurred and if there are unknown survivors of abuse. Those survivors deserve to be heard so that they can begin the healing process. We are committed to responding to these allegations in an open and transparent manner.

To aid the healing, ECC will make every effort to respond in a God-honoring way. This will require a trauma-informed approach that is honest and transparent while also respecting the privacy of anyone harmed. To that end, the Elders are inviting any who have been harmed to come forward.

In the coming days and weeks, we will arrange times for those wishing to speak with Elders about instances of abuse or other concerns. If you want the Elders to be aware of your concerns, we want to hear them. One method to share your concerns on these topics is to email the Elder team at eastviewelders@eastview.church. For those who do not wish to contact an elder, we are pursuing a 3rd party resource to contact directly. We will post that 3rd party contact information when it is in place.

In addition, counseling will be available to those who would like to speak to someone. We anticipate partnering with local counseling services so that anyone who may have been harmed can obtain services from someone not associated with ECC if they like. We understand that some may have lost trust in ECC or want to remain anonymous. Our hope is that through these partnerships we can offer healing to those who no longer wish to find healing at ECC. We also hope this partnership will allow an opportunity for those harmed to maintain anonymity if they choose to. While this reality saddens us, our priority is the healing and restoration of all involved.

The Elders also want to know and understand the experiences that have led to these allegations. We want to make corrections where appropriate, confess where needed, and seek healing for our Church. We are aware that our Church is not a perfect church. We believe that our current work culture is strong and healthy. We believe that we have a missional staff who are valued, empowered, and respected. But we are not blind to the reality that our culture has not always been healthy. We consider the protection and safety of past and present Eastview staff as our highest priority. We are determined to continue an ongoing process of third-party audit and correction where needed.

In 2016, after Caleb Baker left ECC, the Elders first became aware of specific allegations of possible abuse through letters purported to be written by adult victims of abuse. The Elders at the time acted. However, the purported authors of those letters denied that they wrote the letters and stated they had not been victims of abuse. Next, last July (2022) the Elder team became aware of concerns when a former employee sent the Elders a letter that alleged an abusive culture in 2016.

Since receiving the July 2022 letter, the Elders initiated a process for a third-party to conduct an audit of Eastview as a workplace. The report from that audit was completed in January 2023, but the Elders determined that the audit was not thorough enough. Thus, the Elders requested a second, more detailed audit. To be clear, the allegations related to Caleb Baker involve only adults.

This second audit request was finalized by the Elder team in the beginning of February, before the recent allegations on social media. The Elders requested that the audit evaluate current workplace culture, HR policies and procedures, and the ELT [Elder Leadership Team] policies and procedures with respect to power dynamics, harassment, and employee on/off boarding to determine whether any unknown fear or power culture exists. The Elders also directed the audit to address the question of, if staff members needed to raise a concern would they know how to express their concern, to whom they should/could go, and if they felt empowered/safe to bring their concern forward? As part of this process, the Elders have also been made aware of a certain email communication that may be deemed as abusive.

The combination of these most recent allegations by ECC former staff and the news of Caleb Baker’s admitted affair with a staff member of Central Church in Phoenix, Arizona, have reinforced to the Elders that it is best to continue forward with the independent third-party audit. The goal will be to evaluate the current health and safety of our church staff and workplace culture and determine past facts and errors by church leadership. If additional facts come to light, the Elders will forward those to the audit team.

Our Church is grounded in biblical truth and prayer. So, with all sincerity and with no intention of being dismissive – we pray that any harmed will come forward so that we can aggressively evaluate our church to make sure it is a safe and healthy place to work. We pray for healing for any who have survived abuse while employed at ECC. We pray for healing for our church-body, and all involved. The Elders and staff of ECC remain dedicated to the great work that is done in McLean County and around the world to show Christ’s love. We hope through engaging in a transparent review of past and present failures, we can both heal and strengthen our Church.

Public and media inquiries can be directed to Chairman Barton Shaw at eastviewelders@eastview.church.