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Church Investigations

Church Launches Survey as Part of Investigation into Sexual Abuse/Misconduct Allegations Against Chris Rice

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Tates Creek Presbyterian Church (TCPC) in Lexington, Kentucky, has launched a survey on its website to collect information for GRACE as part of its investigation into allegations of sexual abuse/misconduct made against Chris Rice during his participation in TCPC events. 

The confidential survey, open to anyone with relevant information, launched in early March and asks respondents to describe any interactions with Chris Rice, personal knowledge of any sexual abuse/misconduct of minors during his association with TCPC activities, and for their level of confidence that TCPC will handle reports of abuse/misconduct appropriately.

As MinistryWatch reported in October 2020, TCPC hired GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Chris Rice after a former student told Senior Pastor Robert Cunningham that “Mr. Rice has sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions.” 

The abuse allegations stem from multiple TCPC-related events between 1995 and 2003 in which Rice led worship for youth and college retreats. 

“Through his involvement in our ministry, Mr. Rice developed close relationships with multiple students,” Cunningham said in his initial statement. It is one of those former students who made the allegations. “While these remain allegations at this point, we are treating them as credible because of the source of the allegations and corroborating evidence we have discovered.”

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GRACE conducted an independent investigation at TCPC in 2019 into allegations of sexual abuse by former pastor Brad Waller. Those findings revealed multiple students had been abused during Waller’s tenure. 

In a June 2019 sermon, following the results of GRACE’s investigation into Waller, Cunningham told his congregation they would treat any new allegations with the severity they deserve:

I fear a growing weariness within our congregation with this. “This happened over a decade ago. The pastor is long gone. We’ve been dealing with this for a year. Can’t we just move on?” My gentle yet firm answer to that is no, we will not just move on from it, because the survivors are not afforded that luxury. We will, of course, get back to the normal rhythms of church life, but we will never “move on” from this. It will remain a historical failure of this institution, and if decades from now another survivor or new allegations come forward, then our church will be ready and eager to go right back into it with them.

The current investigation into Rice is limited to TCPC, although Cunningham has urged other churches who have worked with Rice to conduct their own. Upon completion of the investigation, Cunningham said the church will follow up with the findings and further public communications.

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Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.