Update for our NewSpring family
NewSpring Church is a family, and this week our family has been processing heartbreaking information.
On Monday, our Charleston Campus was made aware of concerning behavior involving a KidSpring volunteer, Jake Hazlett, and the possibility of inappropriate interaction with children.
We wanted to share with you the steps we’ve taken, answer some of the questions we know you may have, and share with you what’s ahead for our church.
Immediately after we were made aware of this concern, we reviewed video footage from the past 90 days in which Hazlett served as a KidSpring volunteer and found what appears to be inappropriate conduct by Hazlett. We took steps to prevent Hazlett from volunteering in any capacity at our church in the future and, at the same time, we reported this information to law enforcement. NewSpring is fully cooperating with law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.
It was important to us that our pastors share this heartbreaking news in person with parents of children who may have been impacted by Hazlett individually. We then took action to share this information with all families of preschool children at our Charleston Campus. From there we’ve communicated what happened to all parents and volunteers in our KidSpring ministry across the state.
We know this is the most difficult news to hear, and as you process this information, you’ll have many questions. We hope the following helps provide a little more clarity and insight:
How did this happen?
Our church has and will always be fully committed to the safety and security of children. We have many policies in place that have provided safe environments for children the last 19 years. The events in Charleston, though, have shown us that it was possible for evil to find a way to breach our protection. Hazlett was brazen enough to violate the trust of children and the other volunteers serving at the time but outside of their view.
We believe our current policies and procedures are strong, but as we move forward, we will install more measures and do whatever it takes to increase our ability to provide a safe church experience for children.
How did we not catch this man sooner knowing that we have cameras in the room?
We have video cameras in all of our KidSpring rooms at permanent campuses, and they are positioned to make the entire room visible. We monitor these cameras at each campus to provide a level of oversight and quick response if there is a crisis situation in a room. We also have them in place to make sure we can verify anything a parent would have concerns about when talking with their children about being in KidSpring. Somehow, Hazlett’s independent and individual acts were missed as they happened.
We are thankful that we have 90 days of footage. This has allowed us to provide law enforcement with crucial evidence as they move forward in proving criminal actions by Hazlett. The footage has also allowed us to identify the children directly impacted by Hazlett, quickly reach out to their parents, and begin the process of notification and care.
Can parents trust that their children will be safe this Sunday and in the future?
The answer is yes. We believe KidSpring offers an extremely safe place for children to learn about Jesus and have a fun church experience. Our staff and volunteers are being diligent in preparation for KidSpring this week as we will be reinforcing our safety measures and adding additional measures to ensure the safety of children this Sunday and the Sundays that follow.
How can parents ask questions and/or talk to their children about all of this?
Any parent who has a question can contact their local campus, our central offices, or email us at email@example.com. Our staff will also be available Sunday after each service to answer questions individually.
If any parent is looking for information on how to talk with their children, we would recommend this and this as helpful resources.
How do we move forward?
We want our NewSpring family to know that as the leaders of this church we are gutted by these events. We know this happened on our watch, and though we have taken great measures over the years to protect our children, evil found a way to breach our best efforts. This devastates us to the core. We are heartbroken for the families directly impacted, our volunteers who serve with KidSpring, and for all of the families who trust us each week to care for their children.
In short, the way we move forward is to do whatever we can to make sure children are safe at our church, and then to continue to do our best to connect people to Jesus and to others in community. We can only do this if we allow our faith to triumph over any fear we face and if we allow love and compassion to push out hate and indifference. We are committed to doing these things, and we believe our NewSpring family will be as well.
Finally, we would ask that if you are able to, be at church this Sunday. We will gather as a church family to seek God’s help and hear an important message Brad has for us.
Trusting God’s promises,