West Lafayette pastor, elders at center of IndyStar investigation resign

·3 min read

The pastor and elders of a West Lafayette church accused of mishandling the response to sexual abuse among minors in the congregation will resign.

An IndyStar investigation published in December found Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church Pastor Jared Olivetti and elders Keith Magill, Ben Larson and David Carr failed to act with urgency in responding to inappropriate behavior and sexual offenses by a boy at the church.

Olivetti, Magill, Larson and Carr have submitted their resignations, Ken de Jong, Immanuel's provisional moderator, announced during Sunday morning's service (a live stream of which is available, but unlisted, on the church's YouTube page).

Read the IndyStar investigation: A boy sexually abused up to 15 kids. His pastor relative protected him.

De Jong only briefly discussed the resignations, which he said had also been announced during congregation meeting earlier in the week.

Olivetti's resignation, de Jong told the congregation, will be handled by the Great Lakes Gulf Presbytery over the coming weeks. The church's current elder board has accepted resignations from Carr, Larson and Magill. Their resignations, de Jong told the congregation, are effective Monday.

"They have done so very reluctantly," de Jong said, "and do so specifically to encourage the growth and development of this congregation."

A video uploaded to Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church's YouTube account on Nov. 8, 2020, shows Jared Olivetti, pastor of the West Lafayette, Ind., church, leading a prayer. Photographed Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Indianapolis.
A video uploaded to Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church's YouTube account on Nov. 8, 2020, shows Jared Olivetti, pastor of the West Lafayette, Ind., church, leading a prayer. Photographed Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, in Indianapolis.

Ecclesiastical charges are pending against Olivetti, Carr, Larson and Magill, stemming from regional and national investigations within the denomination. IndyStar has reached out to each of those men for further comment, as well as leaders in the Presbytery and Synod.

The perpetrator of the abuse is a relative of Olivetti. Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti took advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the church’s response. (IndyStar is not indicating the relationship between Olivetti and the boy to avoid directly identifying him. IndyStar does not identify juvenile offenders unless they are charged as adults.)

Magill stepped before the congregation after de Jong's announcement to offer a prayer.

Magill prayed for the next elders, who would have to take on a "challenging, difficult" situation, and for the members of the Synod judicial commission, the national authoritative body tasked with handling the charges against them. In his prayer, Magill said members of the commission would now have "some big decisions to make."

"I just pray you give them a merciful spirit. I pray that you give them kindness and love and that you would help them to bring this whole thing to a just conclusion," Magill said. "We pray, Lord, that if they do otherwise, you give us a great deal of wisdom as to how to respond — what to say, what to do, what not to say, what not to do — that we might see these troubles come to some kind of a resolution."

Earlier this month, the judicial commission announced Olivetti was required to "refrain from the exercise of office of teaching elder until the judicial process is complete." At that time, the commission announced that charges had been dropped against two of the 2020 Immanuel elders, Zachary Blackwood and Nate Pfeiffer, who had since resigned their positions.

No criminal charges have been filed against Olivetti or any of the elders involved.

The ecclesiastical trial for Carr, Magill and Larson is scheduled for early March, with Olivetti's trial to follow later that month.

The Immanuel congregation is expected to hold elder elections within the coming days.

You can reach IndyStar reporter Holly Hays at holly.hays@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @hollyvhays.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church pastor, elders resign

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