SHARPSVILLE — A local church has been ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention because of its pastor’s legal history as a convicted sex offender.

West Side Baptist Church, located at 17 Main St., Sharpsville, was among four churches removed Feb. 23 from the SBC by its executive committee, meaning the church is no longer considered “in friendly cooperation” with the convention, according to documents provided by the convention.

The decision was made because the convention’s credentials committee determined that West Side Baptist Church “knowingly employs as pastor a registered sex offender and therefore does not act in a manner that is consistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse,” the documents report, referring to David Pearson, the church’s pastor.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sex offender registry reported that Pearson was found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child on Oct. 7, 1993, in Denton, Texas. Pearson’s last reported address was listed on the registry as Sharpsville on April 25, 2005.

A voice message left at West Side Baptist Church’s phone number Wednesday was not returned. But the church’s website includes a statement that described Pearson as a “living example of ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.’”

The statement continued, “Over 29 years ago Pastor David lived as a great sinner and rebel: But Christ Jesus is a great Savior! Today Pastor David has gone from disgrace to amazing grace and now he has served the Lord Jesus Christ at West Side for 18 years.”

At the Feb. 23 session, the Southern Baptist Convention also expelled St. Matthew’s Baptist Church of Louisville, Ky., and Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Ga., for inclusion of LGBTQ people, and Antioch Baptist Church in Seviersville, Tenn., which has a pastor who was convicted of statutory rape.

The Associated Press reported that Towne View has admitted LGBTQ worshippers and St. Matthews made financial contributions to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which had removed a ban on hiring LGBTQ employees.

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