Several Cloverdale churches have come together to issue a statement after former Cloverdale Christian Fellowship pastor Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine Emerson were charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.
On Tuesday afternoon, Surrey RCMP announced that Samuel Emerson, 34, was charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.
Madelaine Emerson, 37, has been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.
The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the numerous charges laid against Sam and Madelaine Emerson, pastoral leaders at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship,” the statement reads.
“We grieve for the victims and support all the efforts of the RCMP and our judicial system to do what is right. We hope that all details will be exposed thoroughly so that justice and healing can be accomplished effectively for the sake of all involved.”
The statement was sent to the Cloverdale Reporter on behalf of Centre Church, Cloverdale Baptist Church, Coast Hills Community Church, Crossridge Community Church, Hope Community Church, Pacific Community Church, Sonrise Community Church, West Coast Community Church and Zion Lutheran Church.
“It’s a wake up call,” said Jim Heuving, executive pastor at Pacific Community Church.
In the wake of the charges being laid, Heuving said that the members of Cloverdale churches are asking themselves, “Are we doing the best we can do? If not, let’s do better.”
There are “strong protocols” in place in order to protect vulnerable people, said Heuving.
“Many churches, Pacific Community Church is an example, are all about safety. Every member of our staff and volunteers are screened and trained in how to work with children, youth, seniors, and those with disabilities.”
Heuving said he will be calling his congregation to unite in prayer and support of those who have been affected. “There’s a lot of hurt,” he said.
The churches are offering to “provide support to any who are impacted by this troubling situation,” including those “who may need financial aid in accessing counselling and support.” Anyone who is looking for support can reach out to the ministries through their websites.
Surrey RCMP have said the investigation into Samuel and Madelaine Emerson is still ongoing, and that they believe there may have been other victims.
They are asking that any potential victims come forward to speak with police.
Surrey RCMP as that anyone with more information call 604-599-0502, or, if they wish to remain anonymous, to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.