Church comes to terms after pastor arrested
ALTUS, Okla._A church in Altus is reeling following the news that their former pastor has been charged with sexually abusing a young girl over a period of seven years.
Tommy Lynn Bailey was arrested Tuesday at his home, and is already free on bond. Bailey was the pastor of the "Elm and Hudson Church of Christ' for 14 years. He resigned two weeks ago, but didn't give a reason. Now, the congregation is trying to come to grips with the accusations.
Daniel Ingram, interim minister, said he got a call before the Sunday morning service on November 30 that Bailey had stepped down and he would need to step in and preach. The rumors began to fly shortly after, but it wasn't until the news broke Tuesday that they began to understand the seriousness of the situation.
"When it went on the news, we weren't exactly expecting that. But we're coping with the loss of a minister," said Ingram.
Ingram says the minister of 14 years they knew had done so much for the church.
"Tom was a great minister. He was a minister that helped the congregation. We're not based on one individual, we have a lot of key parts that keep our family together. But he and his ministry did great work here. He helped us to grow," said Ingram.
The accusations from the alleged victim show Bailey had a dark side. The victim said the abuse began in 2007 when she was just 14 years old, and Bailey began touching her inappropriately and kissing her. At 15, he started to have sexual intercourse with her, four to five times a week. She said the sexual contact continued until September of 2014. Ingram says since the news broke, he has received an abundance of calls, e-mails and Facebook messages.
"A lot of outpouring of love and the overall atmosphere is love for our congregation and family here," said Ingram.
Ingram says even with the holidays coming up, he and the congregation of about 180 are trying their best to move on as they still love Bailey and his family, and will look forward to continuing without him.
The church also provided Bailey with a home while serving as their minister, but he moved out this past weekend. Bailey is set to go before a judge Thursday to be formally charged in the case and given a date for his preliminary hearing.