Moments after a pastor in Indiana admitted to his congregation that he’d committed “adultery” 20 years ago, a congregant attending the service came forward to change his account and alleged that she’d been victimised by the man when she was 16 years old.
“I committed adultery,” Rev John Lowe II told churchgoers during a Sunday service at the New Life Christian Church and World Outreach in Warsaw, Indiana.
Rev Lowe, 65, confessed that the “sin” had weighed heavy on his mind for “far too long”, a secret that he’d kept from his wife of more than 45 years and his family, who attended Sunday’s service.
“To say it plainly: I didn’t make a mistake, I didn’t have an issue, I didn’t have an affair, I didn’t make a misjudgment – I sinned. I need to say that, and you deserve to hear it,” the pastor said while begging for his “flock” to forgive his “deep wound”.
The confession, initially, received a standing ovation from the onlookers. But before the crowd had stopped their applause for the pastor coming clean, a woman taken up onto the lectern with her husband to provide a different account of events.
“I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that?” she said. The woman in the video, now in her 40s, came forward as the person who the pastor had just moments before admitted to having an affair with, though she corrected his timeline by stating before the congregation that it was 27 years ago, and not 20.
She confronted the pastor in front of the crowded pews, while her husband stood by to support her, alleging that she’d been victimised by Rev Lowe throughout her late teenage years and into her early 20s, living in what she described as a “prison”.
“You did things to my teenage body that had never and should have never been done,” she said. “If you can’t admit to the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.”
The shocking confrontation between the woman and Rev Lowe was shared in a 14-minute video posted on Facebook the morning of the service, garnering more than 300,000 views in the time since it was shared.
Rev Lowe, who announced that he’d be stepping down when he spoke with church leaders ahead of his Sunday confession, and the New Life church could not be immediately reached for comment by The Independent.
Leaders at the New Life church have since released a statement where they address that the impetus for Sunday’s announcement from the pastor was brought forward after family members of the woman had brought forward their concerns, and when those leaders confronted Rev Lowe privately, he confessed to them.
“The woman in question and her family did attend together and addressed the congregation, indicating that improper sexual conduct first occurred when she was 16 years of age and continued into her twenties,” the statement read, emphasising that “until now, none of this was disclosed to or known by any of the staff, ministers or personnel of New Life”.
The church extended their “support” and “commitment” for the woman “who has lovingly attended and served in the church for many years”, before offering Rev Lowe the same kind of “support, encouragement, counsel and forgiveness that has come to define the collective heart and ministry of this body”.
Before leaving the lectern, the woman expressed how the years of holding onto this secret had left her mentally scarred, having suicidal thoughts until as recently as two weeks before the Sunday service.
“The church deserves to know the truth. This church has been built on lies, but no more. The lies need to stop,” she said.
Before leaving the lectern, the woman’s husband took the microphone to say that his family is working through love and forgiveness, but that “people need to be held accountable”.
“They can’t just say, ‘I committed adultery’,” he said, referring to the pastor standing inches away from him. “It was far beyond adultery,” he closed.
As the pair descended the steps to the front of the church, a man off-camera could be heard shouting out, “if you did it, you need to admit it,” to which the pastor replies, “I told you I committed adultery and I told you it went on far too long”.
“I can’t do anything about that except to tell you, if I could go back and redo it all, I would. I can’t, and all I can do is ask for you to forgive me.”
The Independent has reached out to the Kosciusko County Prosecutor for comment on the allegations and the office responded by saying the region’s prosecutor, Daniel Hampton, “is not permitted to disseminate any information regarding alleged misconduct”.
WANE 15 on Monday reported the Kosciusko County Prosecutor Office confirmed to them that there is a pending investigation into the matter, but no additional information was provided.