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‘Fight Church’ pastor tried to entice others into swinger relationships, former members claim

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:22 EDT
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A former member claims “Fight Church” pastor Paul Burress abused his power and tried to entice others into the swinger lifestyle, the Christian Post reported Tuesday.

The pastor’s Victory Church was featured in a new documentary about the hundreds of American churches that attract new members and build their communities around mixed martial arts fights between “fight ministry” religious leaders.

Burress defended the fights, which he said were “not hateful or destructive,” but instead taught participants to “control our most violent impulses through strength, discipline and perseverance — none of which are at odds with Christianity.”

But the Bloody Elbow blog reported that an unidentified former member told the leadership team at Victory Church that Burress had tried to entice him into a sexual relationship with the pastor’s wife.

The man said Burress asked him to perform a sensual back rub on his wife, Jill Burress, who had removed her shirt and bra, while at the couple’s home twice in 2009.

“Paul made sure that my hand made contact with the side of a breast by moving it there with his own hand,” the man said. “Paul also made sure that I touched her bare bottom.”

The man, who said he was 21 years old and single at the time, said Burress also showed him nude photos of his wife and a video of the couple having sex.

“This weighed on me for years, until I couldn’t take it anymore and eventually left Victory because of it,” the man said. “A person should be able to trust his pastor. I could not. 1 Cor 4:2 says it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”

The man said Burress made sexual advances in 2012 to two female church members in their 20s at his home, where they were going to have their “backs worked on.”

He said the pastor later tried to seduce one of them at a coffee shop after confessing he had been a swinger while previously married to another woman.

“The girls were asked to remove their shirts and bras because the straps got in the way,” the man said. “They both left Victory, and won’t return, because they were frightened and disturbed by the sexual advances of the pastor.”

A former exchange student who was 16 years old when she stayed with Burress and his family in 2009 also sent a letter to church leadership last year, claiming the pastor had molested her.

Victory Church’s executive pastor sent church leaders an email the following day characterizing the woman’s claims as “the latest vindictive email attack against” Burress and the church.

“The timing is suspect as she hasn’t said a word for all these years until these other people started up,” said Al Ogden, who also serves as the church’s director of counseling. “And last year when she came to visit she came back to Victory. So it apparently didn’t bother her much then.”

Ogden also said in the email that her claims may have been coached because they so closely resembled other allegations against Burress, and the official questioned where the woman had gotten the deacon’s email list.

The man said he was concerned about the apparent pattern in the pastor’s life, noting that Burress had been a swinger while married in Missouri and then divorced after an affair with another woman at his Fusion church in Rochester.

He said Victory Church leaders tried to protect their image rather than address the concerns he had raised in his letter.

“I believe that Paul should resign or be asked to resign because positions of authority have caused him to sin sexually,” the man said. “When a pastor engages in sexual behavior with someone in his church, it is an abuse of power and authority. When a person uses a position of authority to lure those under his care into inappropriate situations, those people become victims.”

Watch this trailer for the “Fight Church” documentary posted online by Deadline Hollywood:

 
 
 
 
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