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16 May 2008 at 2:48:41 PM
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Some years back my parents attended Prestonwood Baptist Church (!MEGACHURCH!)  or watched it on television. My father actually knew the pastor then, Bill Weber, from Baylor University, where they both attended. Then, one day, it came out that Weber was committing adultery, not with one but FOUR women who were assistants or something in the church.  Anyone besides me remember this?

As information oozed out over the next few months, the congregation discovered what only a handful of church leaders knew: instead of one affair, there were two. In 1985, Weber had been confronted by two deacons who had been given evidence gathered by a private detective indicating that Weber was having an affair with a young woman in the church. The deacons kept the incident quiet because Weber seemed remorseful, promising it would never happen again.
But it did. And, had they known Weber as well as they thought, they might not have been surprised. In fact, unknown to the deacons, a Southern Baptist preacher had confronted Weber about an affair as early as 1982. After Weber's resignation, church leaders began to compare rumors and notes, approaching women privately to find out if they had been involved with Weber. Several confessed that they had, confirming what some leaders had suspected: that Weber had a pattern of infidelity. They say that during his Prestonwood years, he had as many as ten affairs, sometimes with several women simultaneously.
And contrary to the way he has represented the affairs to his supporters-claiming that he was seduced, and that the affairs lasted only a short time-Weber apparently was the aggressor. He picked out women in the church who were very attractive (and almost always blonde) and offered to counsel them or gave them tasks to do in the church. He spent time discovering their personal problems, and then used those against them. And he wrapped their relationship in a cloak of spirituality, convincing each she was special, different, one of the few who could help him serve God.
""Bill Weber came on to me sexually early in our acquaintance,"" says one woman who gave a written statement to D on the condition that her name not be used. ""I, at first, thought he was just a flirt. While all the flirting was going on he discovered vulnerable points in my life.
""He is very deceptive and seductive. I believe it is his ability to use words that makes him so believable. But he also had a spooky ability to get whatever he wanted. . .by using statements and persuasion that make you feel so needed. He always appealed to the side of me that wants to be somebody. He said he could give me an opportunity; he could fix me up in places where I could serve God. As the seduction grew more intense-phone calls, pleas for my help, pleas for secret meetings-I was willing along with him to take chances. I wanted to be with him at all costs.""

Naturally, he was kicked out and, as I recall, he was part of another little church that started up on Midway Road in North Dallas.  More on that from D Magazine - "The Second Coming of Billy Weber"

...many later came to feel that Weber’s prodigious tears were of the crocodile variety. "I think he thought he had lost, for the moment," says a deacon who was at one point a staunch Billy backer. "He was sorry-sorry he got caught."
Some of those close to him say that in the following months, they saw no real repentance or change in his life. Weber even began maneuvering behind the scenes to regain his pulpit. Mary Kay Ash, a longtime supporter, wrote a letter to the deacons saying that if Weber was not brought back, she would withdraw her financial support of the church.
When that foiled, he began scheming to start his own church, siphoning offboth the rank-and-file and some of the wealthy backers he had attracted to Prestonwood-all the while telling those around him that he was not starting a church.

There was some kind of power struggle around that and I remember an article in the news (maybe the Dallas Observer?) about Bill Weber going to some party where, when you first went in, the men picked up barbie dolls off the table and women picked up ken dolls, marked I think, with somebody's name. It was really creepy. (He died not long after that, apparently).

Anyway, another pastor bites the dust.

A minister at a Dallas-area megachurch has been charged with online solicitation of a minor after allegedly being caught in a Bryan Internet sex sting.

Bryan police say undercover officers communicated -- as a 13-year-old girl -- with 52-year-old Joe Barron of Plano for about two weeks.

Bryan police say the online conversations with the minister from Prestonwood Baptist Church were sexually explicit.

The police statement says officers posing as the girl asked Barron on May 6th for an in-person rendezvous in Bryan, where the preacher was arrested.

UPDATE. Found this video about the sex sting with Barron.

 

P.S. I see another article in which the pastor, Jack Graham, commented about this.

In his three-minute address, Dr. Graham said his staff worked hard to earn the trust of its congregation. He promised that the church would continue to make sure it hired ministers and staff of the "highest character."

"We've taken a hit from the enemy this week, but we will rise above and respond to the challenge ... ," he said, as church members applauded. "We are confident and certain that in the days ahead that God is preparing us for something magnificent and wonderful in the ministry of this church. ...We want to put this in our rearview mirror."

May sound soothing to his flock but let's really look at this. The enemy? Does this mean that the church hired Satan or one of his minions? If so, then how it is that they can *continue* to make sure ministers and staff are of the highest character. It isn't like God pointed out to them that this guy was a sexual predator. Second, what's in that ole rear-view mirror? Billy Weber.

P.P.S. Found an old D magazine article about Bill Weber. Didn't realize his daddy Jaroy Weber (who must have been SO PROUD at the shenanigans of his son) was head of the SBC at one point.

Just as Dallas’ First Baptist Church (which is the world’s largest) has its share of celebrity speakers ranging from Billy Graham to Raphael Septien, Prestonwood has attracted a lot of well-known local names quickly. One of the most prominent parishioners is Mary Kay Ash, who was a member of Northway when Weber was pastor there and whom Weber credits with encouraging him to develop the mission outreach that led to Prestonwood. Ash was chairwoman of the building committee for the big sanctuary and proudly introduces Weber as her pastor when he gives the invocation to the thousands of pink-suited women at the annual seminars of Mary Kay Cosmetics saleswomen. Paula Stringer became an enthusiastic member of Prestonwood after a friend invited her to attend a service. A number of athletic notables, including golfer Lanny Wadkins and his wife, also attend.
Weber says that one reason Prestonwood has attracted so many people is that it understands what he calls "the Dallas mentality": "Dallas has a cross-section of people from all over the world who have the ’achiever syndrome’; they want to do better this year than last year. I think we show them you can have achievement-orientation in your spiritual life as well as in other departments." He says that the basically conservative orientation of the church’s theology is naturally a prerequisite for reaching the typical Dallas achiever.
Does the orientation toward success reduce Prestonwood Baptist to some sort of country club? "Some people might feel uncomfortable here because of social distinctions and background," Weber says,"but I would hope that we would do everything to say to them that we love you anyway." One lay leader of the church says that there is such a thing as the "up and out"-as distinguished from the "down and out"-people who have achieved success but don’t seem to get much fulfillment out of it. Weber believes that the church has a special obligation not to judge people or to condemn them, whether they are conspicuously wealthy or disadvantaged-especially if they have not been obviously pious, churchgoing types. "If we are not careful, Christians will become isolated because many just want to reach ’our kind of people.’ Jesus, on the other hand, was harder on the religious crowd than on any other."

I guess "Our Kind of People" means the adultery crowd, or sexual predators, who would be having trouble fitting that camel through the needle's eye.

MORE stuff on Prestonwood. 

Todd Bell had an affair in March 2014.  From Watchkeep

After 22 years as the worship pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Todd Bell apparently resigned suddenly last week, or so I've heard from a few sources. He has been removed from the staff listing on the church website. *From what I've been told in an email (see below), Jack Graham spoke at the end of the service last Sunday, apparently after the cameras stopped rolling, about Todd Bell's resignation or firing. I'm not clear on which it is exactly.

If Jack did speak openly and transparently that Todd "disqualified himself, " why has he never spoken about how Prestonwood minister John Langworthy disqualified himself too when he suddenly left Prestonwood in June 1989 after allegations surfaced that he was sexually abusing boys in the church? Why has Jack never mentioned Langworthy from the pulpit? Don't all members and parents deserve to know why a minister would leave suddenly because he was accused of child sex crimes?

*UPDATE 3/5/14: I received the following email today with more information.
 

I was in both services on Sunday at Prestonwood and Jack Graham spent a good 10 to 15 minutes very transparently sharing his grief and sadness over the resignation and the exact reasons for it which he specifically stated verbatim were unfaithfulness to his wife and to the church and his ministry.  It was heartfelt, sincere, transparent and anything but brief as your comments state.  I even taped it for my daughter to hear and we listened to it more than once....not brief and not any trace of an attempt at hiding the truth.

More On Todd Bell and Kathy and Richard Kingsmore, Con Artists extraordinaire.

But this summer, the Kingsmores abruptly yanked their children out of private Christian school and fled, leaving behind their home, furniture, clothes, and the family cat.

The explanation for their sudden disappearance showed up later, attached with masking tape next to the forest-green front door of the Bent Tree house: a federal judge's order stripping the Kingsmores of control of their assets, including the house.

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission believes Kathy Kingsmore found more than fellowship among the other choir members and Sunday-school moms at Prestonwood Baptist. In a complaint filed in mid-September, the SEC alleges that Kathy Kingsmore bilked some 34 people--many from her church--out of more than $3 million. Kingsmore's husband, the SEC claims, also benefited from his wife's scheme. 

Dallas Observer has an article Feb 2015 on  John Langworthy 

Smith took her first simple step and looked up Langworthy online.

She soon found he was still working with children at an elementary school in Clinton and as a pastor at the Morrison Heights Baptist Church there. Smith picked up the phone and called the school district superintendent. "I just said I'm from Texas, I have something very serious I need to talk to him about, a staff member, and it involves alleged sexual abuse of children," she remembers telling the secretary. The superintendent got right on the phone and listened to her for 45 minutes. He said he'd look into it.

Emboldened, Smith sent a Facebook message to one of the boys she had heard rumors about. Then she started emailing Prestonwood. Neal Jeffrey thanked her. "I am thankful that someone has come forward and that the situation is being confronted," he wrote back in a 2011 email. In a follow-up, he said he called Prestonwood's attorneys "who were involved in all of this back then."

A few months later, the victim Smith contacted on Facebook finally replied and agreed to write to the Morrison Heights church directly. The pastor's response was not assuring. "We had a long and frank discussion with John, and he was as transparent as any man I have ever talked to," Morrison Heights Pastor Greg Belser wrote back. "He insists that you and [redacted] were the only two involved. All others were just crude play and vulgar behavior, and we are evaluating it all."

Belser asked the man to continue to search for other victims. "John is insistent that you will find none, other than just the crude and vulgar behavior," Belser wrote. "If you do find someone, we would want to talk firsthand with them and in complete confidence." To Smith, sending victims to speak to the church first no longer seemed like a good idea.

Then Morrison Heights' attorney, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, left Smith a voice mail. Suspicious of his intentions, she emailed to ask why he called. "To discuss a resolution," Gunn wrote back to her. "Are you willing to speak with me for a few minutes?" No, Smith responded.

The work was happening behind the scenes, through calls and emails, when in the summer of 2011 Smith's efforts finally seemed to have effect. First, Langworthy agreed to resign from his job at the school. Then she heard a rumor that Langworthy confessed to some sort of inappropriate behavior from the pulpit and had resigned from his job at the church. Smith told the local Clinton newspaper about it and WFAA's Brett Shipp in Dallas. Shipp told her he couldn't report it until she found a churchgoer who had heard the sermon first-hand who would agree to an interview. So Smith wrote a message in the comments section of a local Christian blog, asking if anyone who was there would give an interview. She got something better: a cellphone video of Langworthy's sermon from an anonymous tipster.

"Prior to coming to Clinton 22 years ago, while serving at a church in Mississippi and then Texas, I had sexual indiscretions with younger males," Langworthy told the congregation. "These decisions were ungodly, and I deeply regret them"

....

For people connected to the victims and Prestonwood, the case is far from over. They want the church to apologize. As a wealthy, powerful church, it has a special duty to admit it made a mistake many years ago by not reporting Langworthy to the police, they say. No one has come forward claiming he was abused after 1989, the year Prestonwood fired Langworthy and sent him back to Mississippi. Still, victim advocates believe that if there are such victims, they may not come forward unless they know they have support from their church and from officials in the Southern Baptist Convention

"A church as large as wealthy as Prestonwood really should take these tangible steps," says Clohessy, the SNAP director.

Instead Prestonwood has taken a curious approach. In public statements, Prestonwood officials continue to describe Langworthy's abuse as merely an "inappropriate" relationship.


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Comments!  
1 - whitkat   16 May 2008 @ 6:00:34 PM 

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and divine power corrupts divinity.    What other group than "men of God" has caused so much havoc due to their own delusions and manipulation of morality.


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2 - salon   21 Aug 2008 @ 8:48:29 PM 

I saw another article about Bill Weber. I didn't realize that he actually started Prestonwood Baptist Church, which makes it all the more disturbing. And it was an offshoot of Northway Baptist. I actually attended Northway Baptist as a kid, wonder if Bill Weber was there, then? Probably, eh?

But that wasn't the only deception. As information oozed out over the next few months, the congregation discovered what only a handful of church leaders knew: instead of one affair, there were two. In 1985, Weber had been confronted by two deacons who had been given evidence gathered by a private detective indicating that Weber was having an affair with a young woman in the church. The deacons kept the incident quiet because Weber seemed remorseful, promising it would never happen again.
But it did. And, had they known Weber as well as they thought, they might not have been surprised. In fact, unknown to the deacons, a Southern Baptist preacher had confronted Weber about an affair as early as 1982. After Weber's resignation, church leaders began to compare rumors and notes, approaching women privately to find out if they had been involved with Weber. Several confessed that they had, confirming what some leaders had suspected: that Weber had a pattern of infidelity. They say that during his Prestonwood years, he had as many as ten affairs, sometimes with several women simultaneously.
And contrary to the way he has represented the affairs to his supporters-claiming that he was seduced, and that the affairs lasted only a short time-Weber apparently was the aggressor. He picked out women in the church who were very attractive (and almost always blonde) and offered to counsel them or gave them tasks to do in the church. He spent time discovering their personal problems, and then used those against them. And he wrapped their relationship in a cloak of spirituality, convincing each she was special, different, one of the few who could help him serve God.
""Bill Weber came on to me sexually early in our acquaintance,"" says one woman who gave a written statement to D on the condition that her name not be used. ""I, at first, thought he was just a flirt. While all the flirting was going on he discovered vulnerable points in my life.
""He is very deceptive and seductive. I believe it is his ability to use words that makes him so believable. But he also had a spooky ability to get whatever he wanted. . .by using statements and persuasion that make you feel so needed. He always appealed to the side of me that wants to be somebody. He said he could give me an opportunity; he could fix me up in places where I could serve God. As the seduction grew more intense-phone calls, pleas for my help, pleas for secret meetings-I was willing along with him to take chances. I wanted to be with him at all costs.""

I decided to make a pastor watch page, under the Piazza.I've added both those pastors.That's what happens, I think, when people chase wealth.


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3 - Longhorn   16 Mar 2009 @ 12:24:54 AM  I actually was in Bill's personal realm. I for many years dated one of his daughters. I wish that some of the bad things said about him were never said. But, he reputation was not one to help with that. However, his wife and children were great people. His wife was so nice to me and always treated my family with respect. RIP Bill!!

4 - Carl   23 Mar 2009 @ 5:23:16 PM  I remember all of this very well at the time listening to Bill Weber on Sunday mornings was the only church I was getting when I started listing to his preaching I was a whore monger a drunk and anything else you might imagine that was bad but as I listened to his sermons each week I began to feel sorry for all the sins that I had commited then one day I got really serious with God and said to him I know I'm A pice of crap but if you want me I'm yours well little by little I began to change and become a better person then one day I was listening to paster Bill Weber and he said folks I have a confesson to make and when he got threw confessing I was floored I cried and thought how could he have done these things that I'd just heard come out of his mouth I have to admitt it threw me back a ways and for years I have thought about it but I now have my eyes on Jesus and not man and my strenth is in Jesus but I have to say it was Paster Bill Weber that leed me yo Christ Jesus Tho he himself faied hopfully he repented and was forgiven for his sins

5 - Displaced Texan   24 Mar 2009 @ 2:33:49 PM  Can I please ask one question: why on earth would you bring up this kind of shit, after nearly 20 years. Obviously, you had nothing better to do, then truly dredge up old shit...ever heard the saying, Old shit stinks when it's stirred up. Welll, if you want to surround yourself in shit, congratulations you did it...however, what you failed to menntion, dumbass, was that yes, Billy Weber did some terrible things, and paid dearly for it. It also would have been good to hear the truth to, surrounding his death: he died, of brian cancer. So, perhaps that had something to do with his philandernig. Make no mistake, I am not making excuses, but I'm not stupid either. So, next time you want to stear up some old shit, put the entire truth out there. BTW, While he did some terrible, things, who he has no answered for, he also led myridads of followers to Christ. So...just for the record, dumbass.

6 - salon   24 Mar 2009 @ 2:58:23 PM 

To site readers: Please excuse the last comment which I allowed through only because it shows the utter vileness, hypocrisy and rudeness of those who make excuses for Christians. Note that this commenter, who won't be allowed to comment twice in this vulgar tone, says Weber led many to Christ-I'm betting that poster, vile as his words are, believes he's one of them.


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7 - john   9 Apr 2009 @ 9:15:29 PM  Bill Weber was not perfect, nor is there any Christian out there that is . I became a Christian at Prestonwood in 1986. Bill made mistakes, and the whole Christian faith is built on not perfection, but forgiveness by grace. He is not the first and there will be plenty more. We should never look at men as perfect as they will fail us. Thank God that Bill Weber followed Christ and followed the vision that God gave to him. Otherwise, I might not have ever met Christ and would probably have been dead a long time ago.

8 - salon   10 Apr 2009 @ 11:24:20 AM 

I'm very happy for you that you have found a position in life you enjoy and agree with. I also think that every single person on earth is flawed, but that those who represent what one would expect to be a higher level of morality should be held to a more stringent scrutiny.


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9 - Texas Bob   2 Jul 2009 @ 11:20:19 PM 

I decided to Google Billy Weber tonight and look what I found.


10 - David   24 Jul 2010 @ 10:32:06 PM 



11 - salon   6 Dec 2010 @ 2:30:11 PM 


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12 - Jaret   19 Jun 2011 @ 3:42:14 PM 



13 - cole grove   22 Jul 2012 @ 9:09:08 AM 



14 - salon   13 Aug 2012 @ 6:30:54 PM 


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15 - salon   14 Mar 2013 @ 7:22:35 PM 


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16 - salon   19 Aug 2017 @ 9:22:12 AM 

Adding a comment after Donald Trump's 0 equivalence of the KKK/Nazi/White Supremacy rally in Charlottesville.


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17 - salon   20 Nov 2017 @ 9:31:37 AM 

From the Dallas Observer in 2015

Prestonwood Baptist Church and its supporters have never liked talking about the convicted pedophile who once worked there and have let that be known in very pointed ways. Prod hard enough and the knives may come out — either in the form of anonymous hate mail, ridicule from fellow church members or trouble from the church staff itself.....

For people connected to the victims and Prestonwood, the case is far from over. They want the church to apologize. As a wealthy, powerful church, it has a special duty to admit it made a mistake many years ago by not reporting Langworthy to the police, they say. No one has come forward claiming he was abused after 1989, the year Prestonwood fired Langworthy and sent him back to Mississippi. Still, victim advocates believe that if there are such victims, they may not come forward unless they know they have support from their church and from officials in the Southern Baptist Convention

"A church as large as wealthy as Prestonwood really should take these tangible steps," says Clohessy, the SNAP director.

Instead Prestonwood has taken a curious approach. In public statements, Prestonwood officials continue to describe Langworthy's abuse as merely an "inappropriate" relationship.

"In the summer of 1989, the church received an allegation that John Langworthy had acted inappropriately with a 17-year-old male student," Executive Pastor Mike Buster said in an email statement, the only comment the church agreed to give in response to requests for interviews with Graham, Jeffrey and Buster. "Based on this allegation, he was dismissed immediately from our student music ministry. In no way did officials of the church seek to cover up the actions of Mr. Langworthy or silence his accuser. The elected officers and personnel committee dealt with the matter firmly and forthrightly."

The statement ignores the allegations that the male student was only 15 when the abuse started. Smith sees the church's stance as a classic "blame the victim" mentality.


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