Two young women made credible claims against a former Burnsville church pastor when they accused him of having inappropriate sexual relationships with them more than 15 years ago, an investigation by the church has concluded.
The Rev. Wes Feltner, a former lead pastor at Berean Baptist Church, was found by the investigation not to be "above reproach," meaning that he behaved in a shameful way not "free from sinful habits" and deserving of "rebuke or censure" in the eyes of church elders, according to a recent statement from the church to congregants.
A meeting for the congregation was held Jan. 23 to explain the investigation's results. Church leaders didn't return phone calls, and a relative of Feltner's said he didn't want to comment.
The women alleged that Feltner "leveraged his role, power and age to take advantage for his own benefit" while leading a youth group in Indiana, according to the church's statement.
JoAnna Hendrickson and Megan Frey, now in their mid-30s, said that Feltner, now 41, dated each of them at the same time in 2002 when he was a youth pastor in his mid-20s and they were 18.
The investigation also determined that Feltner intentionally misused his church credit card, which church officials said will be offset by reducing the amount they agreed to pay him when he resigned.
The accusations came to light last fall after Feltner applied for a position at a church in Clarksville, Tenn. Hendrickson and Frey created a website about their experience with Feltner — what they called "pastoral abuse" — and their church's failure to take action against him.
In a statement to the Star Tribune, the women said they were "appreciative that the elders at Berean chose to continue with the investigation even after Wes Feltner chose to resign," and "thankful that the investigation concluded what we have known to be true."
In their statement to the congregation, Berean church elders said they "do love Pastor Wes" and want healing for him and his family, along with Frey and Hendrickson. They are offering the services of a crisis-management psychologist to the parties.