An Ohio church has issued an apology after a video surfaced online of a youth pastor encouraging middle and high school students to spit on him, slap him and cut him with a steak knife for an Easter lesson, meant to illustrate what Jesus Christ willingly endured during his crucifixion. Obviously, parents thought the lesson went too far.
Pastor Jaddeus Dempsey of the Impact City Church in Pataskala appeared on Facebook Live to take responsibility for the lesson. "This was completely my idea. Again, I let the students know there was no repercussions whatsoever," Dempsey said. "In fact, even several of the students felt bad afterwards, and I told them it was what I had asked them to do."
The video depicts Pastor Dempsey being hit and spit on as he remains silent. The students can be heard laughing loudly and asking for another turn to hit the man.
Dempsey then removes his shirt and picks up a steak knife. Students are heard asking, "Are you serious?" and telling one another not to do it. One insists that the person holding the knife doesn't "do it hard." Eventually, another adult enters the frame, but only tells the young students to not cut Dempsey too deeply.
"I'm serious, I'm serious, you've got to be very gentle," Dempsey said, as the children pass the knife between each other until, ultimately, one student cut into Dempsey’s back slightly.
The Impact City Church issued a statement on Tuesday informing the community that its board of directors launched a review and investigation and that the church will implement their recommendations.
"Many of you were disgusted. Many of you were hurt by this, many of you were very confused at why this would be taking place at a church. We agree, it was inappropriate for this audience," lead pastor Justin Ross said in the apology video.
"My intention was to show them how much Jesus loved them and I loved them as a student leader for almost four years now," Dempsey said. "Tonight was an anomaly, it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused."
One couple, Mandy and Josh, saw that their son was handed the knife in the video, and, according to WBNS, reached out to the Licking County Sheriff's Office.
"I do want an apology, a personal apology, not an apology all over Facebook," Mandy told the outlet. "I think they should personally apologize to all the kids involved and their parents."
"In no way do we condone that students or anyone else should spit on someone, should slap them, or use a weapon to harm anyone or harm themselves," Ross said in the Facebook video, "and we have a lot to evaluate to ensure that a situation like this doesn't happen again."
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