**We are monitoring the weather and will make a call on Saturday on whether to cancel our Sunday services. We'll put further updates here and on our social media feeds.**

SUMMIT NEWS

May 22, 2024

An Important Message from the Summit Limestone Elders

Dear Summit Crossing Limestone Members and Attenders,

We wanted to reach out about a serious situation involving our sister church, Summit Crossing Community Church - Madison. One of their former staff members, Mark Sellers - who until today was the Director of Missional Communities - was arrested earlier today on one count of solicitation of a child under 16.

The Madison Elders released a lengthy email with more details surrounding this situation including details about how they are caring for the families involved while cooperating with police in the ongoing investigation.

We want to encourage you to read the Summit Madison email BELOW.

Please know that even though Mark was not on our staff, and hasn’t had any regular contact or involvement in our Summit Kids or Students programs, we felt it was important to loop you into what was going on since many of you know the Sellers and care deeply about our sister church in Madison.

In addition, even though we are closely connected to Summit Madison, we want to be clear that we are our own, independent church and therefore have limited access to the details of what’s going on beyond the information in the email that was sent out. If there is any more information that directly relates to our church in Limestone, then we will keep you informed.

With that said, we share more than just a name with Summit Madison. We love them deeply, we have partnered with them throughout the life of our church, and we are deeply committed to them. Please join us in praying for them and for everyone involved in this situation.

If you have further questions, please direct them to the Summit Limestone Elders by emailing elders@summitlimestone.org.

Finally, we know news like this can be very difficult for you. It’s natural to have questions or to need to talk about it. If this situation stirs up emotions or personal memories, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our elders, staff, and leaders are here to support you in any way we can. We are ready to listen, spend time with you, and offer prayer and other appropriate support.

The first step to connect is to email us at elders@summitlimestone.org. If you are not ready to talk to a church leader, there are several other resources that are available for you right now.

Click or tap here for a list of resources that are available to help you.

Much love,

The Summit Limestone Elders

Bill Magsig
Joey Thompson
Greg Clay
BELOW IS THE LETTER FROM THE SUMMIT MADISON ELDERS:

Summit Crossing Members & Attenders

In the spirit of full transparency and a desire to care well for our membership and community, we need to inform you about a serious situation involving Mark Sellers, who until today was our Director for Missional Communities.

On the evening of May 13, the leadership of Summit Crossing met with the mother of a minor and became aware that Mark Sellers had been sending sexually inappropriate and explicit text messages to her teenager, who is not a member or attender of Summit Crossing. Elders and leaders reviewed evidence provided by the mom between Mark Sellers and the teenager. We viewed these communications as showing a pattern of predatory behavior and sexual exploitation -- commonly referred to as grooming.

Our Elders and leaders believed the mother, encouraged her to file a police report and shared that we would be reporting the matter to appropriate authorities as well. The following morning, at 9:30 AM, Matthew Wilson, our Executive Director, filed a report with the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which houses the state’s Child Protective Services. Later that same day, Patrick Johnson (Elder), David Ballinger (Elder) and Matthew Wilson met with investigators of the Special Victims Unit to file a police report, and consulted with outside experts, including the National Children’s Advocacy Center, for advice on how to proceed.

Law enforcement officials asked Summit Crossing not to take steps that would alert Mark Sellers to the existence of the report or investigation as other leads included minor(s) under the age of 16. While we honored their request to continue “business as usual” regarding Mark Sellers access to the church, we also took steps to ensure the safety of our members and staff while investigators worked to gather information. Those steps included ensuring Mark Sellers was not alone with children or staff on church property.

Earlier today (May 22), law enforcement officials arrested Mark Sellers on one count of solicitation of a child under 16. Effective the moment of arrest, Mark Sellers’ employment with the church was terminated and he was indefinitely suspended from returning to church property or events. We know the criminal and court process will take some time and we continue to cooperate with investigators, who have indicated that they will follow all leads in this case.

It is important to note that we currently have no evidence that Mark Sellers engaged in similar behavior toward any members of Summit Crossing. In his role as Director for Missional Communities, Mark Sellers did not have regular involvement in our children’s or students’ ministries. However, investigators assured us that they will follow any lead regarding other potential victims. Additionally, Summit Crossing in 2021 adopted a robust Child & Student Protection Policy developed in collaboration with national leaders in preventing and responding to allegations of abuse in churches and ministries. That policy guided our response in this matter, and we are committed to responding well if our current understanding of the extent of Mark Sellers’ behavior changes with new information. Our policy is available for members and attenders upon request at shepherding@summitcrossing.org.

We understand how heartbreaking this news can be, and it's completely natural to have questions or need to talk it through. If this situation has stirred up emotions or personal memories, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team, including elders, staff, and leaders, are here to support you. They are ready to listen, spend time with you, and offer prayer and other appropriate support. The first step to connect is emailing us at shepherding@summitcrossing.org.

If you have any information to report to law enforcement, please reach out to Detective Teresa Taylor-Duncan at teresa.taylor-duncan@madisonal.gov. If you are hesitant to reach out to the police, you may contact the National Children’s Advocacy Center (https://www.nationalcac.org/), the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453), the Madison County Child Support Hotline (256-427-6099), or church leaders (shepherding@summitcrossing.org).

We are deeply grieved for those who have experienced this sinful behavior by one of our employees. The brave family that came forward – and any others impacted – are made in the same image of God as our church members and attenders. We remain in contact with the family and are following their wishes regarding how we can support them moving forward.

We are also saddened by the impact this will have on the Sellers family. We are committed to supporting and caring for Mark’s family in the days ahead.

Finally, we know this story will likely be shared and analyzed. What concerns us the most is how this might change someone's understanding or heart towards Jesus. We have so much sorrow over that. We remain committed to the truth, doing the right thing and glorifying God. Despite the sorrow we feel, we are reassured that even in the darkest times, we are not alone. Jesus remains our King and Shepherd, guiding us and promising good even in hardship. In our grief, we hold onto every thread of hope the gospel offers.

TIMELINE OVERVIEW
Given the severity of these incidents, we believe it is important to summarize the timeline, though further details may emerge.

May 13, 5:00 PM
Patrick Johnson (Elder), David Balinger (Elder), Paul Whaley (Elder), Jamey Nettles, and a church member (friend of the mother) meet to hear a story from a mother who is not connected to Summit Crossing about inappropriate text messages by Mark Sellers to her teenager.

May 14, 9:30 AM
Matthew Wilson (Executive Director) & Patrick Johnson report the story to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

May 14, 9:50 AM
Matthew Wilson & Patrick Johnson call the National Children’s Advocacy Center to report the story (no answer, leaves message).

May 14, 10:50 AM
National Children’s Advocacy Center returns call, receives Matthew’s & Patrick’s report and shares best practices/next steps on navigating the situation.

May 14, 12:00 PM
Patrick Johnson receives evidence from the family related to communication between Mark Sellers and their teenager.

May 14, 1:30 PM
Patrick Johnson, David Ballinger & Matthew Wilson meet with police detectives/investigators at the National Children’s Advocacy Center to file a report.

MAY 14 - MAY 22, 10:30 AM
At the request of the investigator, Mark Sellers remained employed while the police were investigating the reports. Summit Crossing was advised not to fire or tip off Mark Sellers by terminating him. Doing so could be considered obstructing the investigation. Having Mark Sellers on church property during the investigation put our church in a very difficult situation. Matthew Wilson was in daily communication with Detective Taylor-Duncan on the status of the investigation. During this time, either our Executive Director and Elder(s) were near and/or observed Mark Sellers at all times while on church property.

MAY 22, 10:30 AM
Mark Sellers is arrested by Madison City Police. Effective the moment of arrest Mark Sellers employment was terminated with our church.

We will hold regular services at 9:00 AM & 11:00 AM this Sunday. While we will not be disclosing more information at this service, we will be gathering to grieve, lament and worship together. Once again we will find our hope in Christ alone.

 Adam Aberle, Elder
David Ballinger, Elder
David Conrad, Elder
Patrick Johnson, Elder
David Thew, Elder
Paul Whaley, Elder
Matthew Wilson, Executive Director

5/1/2024

May 2024 News

Isolation…
We all hate it, but too often, especially as we approach this time of the year, many of us struggle with it. Whatever the reasons for it - fear, insecurity, past hurts, disappointments or frustrations - it seems way too easy for us to slip into seasons that are missing deep connections with others. It’s common as we approach the summer months for us to say things like, “We’re all about to scatter, so we’ll see you again in August!” And while it’s true that many people (especially those with kids) have busy schedules during the summer months, too often what ends up happening is we just slip into deeper and deeper isolation.

So I want to challenge you to not waste the next three months from May-July. Go on vacation. Spend a lot of time outside, or at your kids or grandkids sports. But don’t neglect to gather with your Missional Communities and with us on Sundays.

We are not a perfect church. We are not a perfect community. But the Gospel promises us that when we gather, we gather with the presence of a perfect God in our midst. He created us for communion with Himself and with others. I know community is hard, and we often get frustrated or underwhelmed by our time in our MC’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need one another.

I continue to be so grateful for our MC leaders who are faithfully and tirelessly working to initiate and facilitate time together in our groups. Let’s make their jobs easy in the days ahead! Continue to gather whenever you can! Fight isolation! Embrace the community God has given you!

Much love and grace,

Pastor Bill

COMING IN MAY

NEW WAYS TO STAY IN THE LOOP
This month, we are moving to texting as our primary means of communicating with the church. This will allow us to communicate more often and more quickly with more people. Specifically, links to our future newsletters, along with other forms, follow-ups, and special announcements will all be sent via text. Emails will continue to go out as well for any major communication that needs to happen.

If you are a member of Summit Limestone, you will automatically be added to our new text based newsletter list.

SUMMIT KIDS
Summit Kids will continue in the Gospel Project for Kids in Unit 32 - The Church Grows. As opposition to the church grew, the church grew along with it. Just as Jesus had said it would, the church began in Jerusalem, had grown into Judea, and was about to expand into Samaria and toward the ends of the earth. First, God needed to help believers understand that as the church grew, they were one church united in Jesus.

The big picture question/answer for Unit 32 is:  What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.

The key passage for Unit 32 is:

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 12:12

Summit Kids meets each Sunday during the 9a and 11a service for babies - 5th graders. See summitlimestone.org/kids for more information on events, at home resources, and volunteer opportunities.  Please also visit the Summit Kids table located outside the check-in station to find Sermon Notes for Kids, Sermon Notes for Middle Schoolers, family worship resources, and more.

SUMMIT STUDENTS
May is a pivotal month for Summit Students. It represents the closing of our school semester, as well as the launch into our Summer rhythms! May 1st and 8th will be our final two regular weekly gatherings for the school year. On the 8th we will have our end of the year celebration. Its going to be an awesome time you do not want to miss. Our summer schedule will be releasing soon but it will be jammed packed with many different ways our students can connect through the months of June and July! Any questions you have in regards to our Student ministry, please email luke@summitlimestone.org!

Sundays | 5-6:30p
EQUIPPING CLASS: 1 Samuel Deeper Dive

After taking a break for the church picnic, we're back this week, May 5. Chris Brister will be building on Bill's sermon on the classic text - David vs. Goliath. Hope you can join us as we discuss topics and themes too broad to fully cover in a single sermon.

Note - we will not gather the following week (May 12) for Mother's Day.

Thursdays, May 9 & 23 | 9-11a
MOMCO MEET-UP

Join us for our  Momco meet-ups. The Momco By MOPS International is a group designed to meet mothers where they are. Its purpose is to build community with fellow mothers. At our Momco meet-ups we walk through and support mothers in the hard parts of life and celebrate those beautiful moments in motherhood! For more info, please email Casey Walters at caw21637@gmail.com.


Sunday, May 19 | 6:30-7:30p
NEIGHBORHOODS TO NATIONS PRAYER NIGHT

Join us for a family night of prayer as we seek God’s presence together as a church and pray for God’s Kingdom to advance from our neighborhoods to the nations. In May, we will be spending extended time praying for the Heinkels who are working in Nashville among the unreached Somali families who have been displaced due to the ongoing civil war in their nation (we had to pivot to praying for them in May instead of last month). Childcare is available for babies through 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten, but all kids are welcome to attend.
A complete list of all our events can be found at 
www.summitlimestone.org/events

DID YOU KNOW?
Limestone County took over in 2023 as the fastest growing county in Alabama with a population of 114,654 residents representing a growth of 3.4% from 2022. Baldwin and Madison counties came in at numbers 2 and 3.