Statement to our Church Family
Latest update from Pastor Phil Collins [November 19, 2021]
Full Statement to our Church Family [November 13, 2021]
We have been advised that criminal charges have moved forward against a former employee of Willow Park Church, Mitch Petillion. The charges are public and are available online. While not proven in court, we understand that the charges involve serious sexual misconduct.
The accused ended his employment with Willow Park Church in January 2020 shortly after some allegations were drawn to our attention. Those allegations are now before the court.
Please know that our church has a robust protocol that we followed very carefully and quickly to address this situation. Child protection is of paramount importance to us, which is why we have policies and rules in place. We do regular staff training and we prioritize the safety and well-being of all children and youth. It is something we take very, very seriously.
In this case, as soon as we received the first indication of a potential issue, we immediately contacted the police as part of our standard protocol. We have been strictly and rigorously adhering to that process in line with our child and youth protection policies, both for everyone who may feel this impacts them as well as our own integrity as a church body.
Know that as a church, we are always committed to doing right – in every circumstance, we seek truth, justice and that God’s kingdom would come here in our midst; even in our brokenness, He is sovereign. Our actions are seen first and foremost by Him. We are accountable to Him for all we do.
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the ongoing legal process, you will understand it’s not appropriate for us to comment on any specifics. Please know our clear and most pressing concern is for the well-being and privacy of those who have alleged the harm.
We are heartbroken to hear of any allegations of any harm against children and youth anywhere in the world. Anywhere. We want to be clear that we are absolutely committed to the process of finding justice and truth.
We have a wonderful church community and have been entrusted with so much goodwill. We recognize that even the hint of something like this happening in our community attacks and undermines our calling to be light and love and good news in our community.
Again, our team is committed to seeing truth and justice come out of this situation.
Given the seriousness of this, we know you will have questions. We know you may feel a range of emotions on this. Our own team has been experiencing a wide range of emotions. We are in this with you. We are here for you. Please contact the church office and we will make available pastoral and counselling support for you.
We will keep you updated as much as we are able.
Every blessing and thank you.