Former assistant pastor charged with abuse

Sharon Heights Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., terminated a staff pastor immediately after learning of his arrest last month on molestation charges.

By Bob Allen

A former staff member at a Southern Baptist church in Alabama was arrested June 5 after two individuals came forward claiming they were sexually abused as children.

jay stricklandJay Strickland, 50, a nurse anesthetist, paramedic and a former pastor at Sharon Heights Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., is charged with two counts of sexual abuse and one count of sodomy.

Police say an investigation was launched in April after a male victim came forward and reported he had been abused by Strickland when he was a child. During the investigation, detectives learned of a second victim, a female, who reported being abused as a child as well. Both alleged victims are now adults and live out of state.

Terry Trivette, senior pastor of Sharon Heights Baptist Church since 2013, said in a statement to media that legal authorities were notified and Strickland was placed upon an indefinite leave of absence from the church when the allegations surfaced.

After his arrest, Trivette said, Strickland “was formally relieved of his duties and is no longer employed by Sharon Heights Baptist Church.”

Strickland’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as director of medical and security ministry at Sharon Heights Baptist Church. A news item in the Alabama Baptist in 2010 identified him as youth pastor at the church.

Strickland posted $70,000 bond and was released the day he was arrested. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 17.