Will Senn is the current Senior pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church, Westminster, Colorado. Tri-City was the church were Tina Anderson was sent as suggested to Tina’s mother by Chuck Phelps in 1997. Matt Olson was the pastor of Tri-City at the time. According to Tina, Matt Olson made her write a letter to Ernie Willis’ wife apologizing for breaking her [Ernie Wills’ wife] trust. (Read news article here.) Olson later left Tri-City to be the president of Northland Baptist Bible College. Will Senn also was educated at the same non-regionally accredited University as his two friends Phelps and Olson.
Seems interesting that the men involved were not saying much at this time, but other FBFI leaders were making statements on their behalf. Why would the men who were involved not speak for themselves, or just say, “no comment?” Could it be, these men in the network do heavy lifting for each other?
Oops! Did I say network?
This is the letter written to Tri-City church members concerning Tina Anderson’s situation.
May 30, 2010
Dear Church Family, Folks and Friends:
This past Wednesday Channel 4 contacted our church to ask about a girl who once attended our church about thirteen years ago whose name is Tina. Prior to Tina’s coming to Colorado she lived in Concord, New Hampshire and attended Trinity Baptist Church. Allegedly, at that time and in New Hampshire, Mr. Earnest Willis, a married man and a deacon in the church, impregnated her. Tina was only fifteen at the time. Tina’s family (single mother, father in prison) was apparently limited in how they could help her and it was suggested that the Landrys, who were in our church at the time, would be the best to minister to her. Dr. Chuck Phelps knew the Landry family when he was the youth pastor at Tri-City and also had all three of the Landry boys in his church at one time or another for a church internship. Tina agreed to come to Colorado where Dr. Clovis Landry and his wife Diane took her in and cared for her. She was homeschooled and loved. To Tina’s credit she did not seek an abortion, but instead carried the baby and at birth gave the child up for adoption to a loving, Christian family. Tina’s own testimony regarding her time at Colorado, the Landrys and Tri-City had been favorable.
Recently, Tina was encouraged to press charges against Mr. Earnest Willis in Concord, New Hampshire. The man was arrested and charged and then released on bail. Brian Maass, a Channel 4 News reporter, was made aware of this story and on May 27, he reported on Tina’s alleged rape in New Hampshire. There were additional statements made regarding Dr. Chuck Phelps, Dr. Matt Olson and our church. I would like to comment on those issues and make these clarifications:
1. Dr. Chuck Phelps, former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church and Dr. Matt Olson did not work together to hide Tina from the authorities or from her mother. Tina’s mother brought her to Colorado and later visited her on several occasions.
2. Dr. Chuck Phelps and Dr. Matt Olson did not collaborate to protect Mr. Earnest Willis, the man alleged to be involved sexually with Tina. Dr. Chuck Phelps does not believe that Tina was responsible for being allegedly raped and has said, “She’s not responsible for being raped. Of course not. She was an underage minor. That’s why I called” (the police).
3. There was no delay, nor negligence in reporting the alleged crime to the proper authorities. In fact, Dr. Chuck Phelps immediately called in the report to the police and to the division for Children, Youth and Families on the same day when he was made aware of the alleged relationship between Mr. Earnest Willis and Tina. In addition, Dr. Chuck Phelps urged Tina and her mother to talk with the police, but they would not. Dr. Chuck Phelps then called the police a second time to let them know about the situation. Unfortunately, it appears the authorities on both occasions did not respond to his reports, and apparently no investigation was made. Three weeks after these reports were submitted to the police, Tina and her mother left for Colorado.
4. Neither Dr. Matt Olson nor Tri-City Baptist Church harbored Tina or sought to hinder any legal process past or present. The arrangement for Tina to come to Colorado was between Dr. Chuck Phelps and the Landrys, not between the two churches or the two pastors. Tina’s mother was very pleased with the arrangement for her daughter.
5. Trinity Baptist Church and Dr. Chuck Phelps, now the pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church, continue to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies. This was true from day one and remains true today. If Tri-City Baptist Church is asked to assist in anyway in the investigation, we will cooperate fully to see justice delivered.
6. Dr. Clovis and Diane Landry were an incredible blessing to Tina and an exemplary example to our church family. The Landrys gave to her from their hearts, they homeschooled her, provided her a home and family and did their best to assure her a healthy pregnancy and the safe birth of her child. It is my understanding that Tina has spoken very highly of her care received from the Landrys.
7. Neither Dr. Chuck Phelps nor Dr. Matt Olson did anything illegal. Pastor Olson did not, in any way, publically draw attention to Tina in a negative fashion, nor did he require her to do anything privately such as writing a letter of apology for something she did not do.
8. I was not here at the time, but those who were, remember the church reaching out to Tina and accepting her. She was not isolated from the teens as reported. She was encouraged to mix with the young folks of the church and with the teens of other churches. Tina sang in the church choir and played her flute in the services. This is not a life of isolation.
9. Tina willingly gave her daughter up for adoption to a very godly family who could not have children of their own. This is the bright spot of the story – this little child was the answer to that couple’s prayers! Pray that this child will not be hurt by this story!
For several reasons I have asked Pastor Robbins to represent Tri-City Baptist Church in these matters. In this case, he was here at the time of the incidents in question. Pastor Larry has an impeccable testimony in our community which he has built these twenty-eight years while on staff at Tri-City Baptist Church. He is loyal and incredibly trustworthy. He also understands the media and is very level-headed in his responses under pressure. Hence, Pastor Robbins is my go to guy on these matters with the public and will do a great job with these sticky issues. I do not believe this will be the last media attack on Dr. Chuck Phelps, Dr. Matt Olson or Tri-City Baptist Church. This story is already receiving national attention.
I believe the right course of action for us to take is to commit these matters to the Lord who “judges righteously.” As Christians and as citizens of this great country, we truly want justice to be served in the case that relates to Tina. Do pray for Tina, she is undoubtedly going through a difficult and an emotional time. Let us pray that the media will get their facts straight and will report them in fullness and in fairness. Let us pray that Christ’s name will not be tarnished. Let us pray that this potential ordeal does not hinder our ministry or distract us from the work of the great commission. The words from the song, A Passion for Thee, are appropriate at this time for our meditation.
“Set my heart, O dear Father on Thee, and Thee only. Give me a thirst for Thy presence divine. Lord keep my focus on loving Thee wholly.”
Let’s keep our focus on God and “be an example of the believers.” Let us love God, our neighbor and even our enemy with all of our heart! May the Lord use these trials to fuel revival in our hearts, our churches, and our country!
Heartily in Christ,
Pastor William J. Senn, III