The Cowboy Church of Marshall County in Albertville, Ala., fired its 41-year-old pastor after his arrest last week on sexual abuse charges in Texas.

By Bob Allen

An Alabama Baptist church fired its new pastor after his recent arrest on sexual abuse charges in Texas, but it isn’t the pastor’s first time in jail.

mark-allen-green-mugMark Allen Green, 41, in jail under a $500,000 bond in Waxahachie, Texas, has a long criminal rap sheet, including nearly a decade in the Texas state prison system before his release in 2007, according to WAFF television in Huntsville, Ala.

A website started by a man in Arlington, Texas, who claims Green stole money from him, but could not be arrested, describes him as a “career criminal” who “floats around” four Texas counties and “hides at any local Cowboy Church.”

Most recently it was the Cowboy Church of Marshall County in Albertville, Ala., which reportedly called Green as pastor a couple of months ago. Last Sunday church members were informed of his arrest and termination earlier in the week, according to the Sand Mountain Reporter.

Church officials weren’t talking to local media, saying it was emotional, private and that courts were involved. An unnamed church member told the newspaper the issue polarized the congregation and that Sunday’s service turned tense with arguments and shouting.

Randall Stoner, director of missions for the Marshall Baptist Association, released a media statement that said, “We are saddened by the circumstances surrounding his termination but cannot comment further due to legal issues involved.”

In a written statement to the Sand Mountain Reporter, Stoner said, “While these alleged events involving Mark Allen Green did not happen in Marshall County, we are saddened by the circumstances surrounding his termination.”

According to the Ennis (Texas) Daily News, Green was arrested May 31 on charges of sexual assault of a child in Ellis County and taken to the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in Waxahachie.

Church leaders did not respond to a television reporter’s question about whether they did a background check on Green before hiring him. The WAFF website listed 23 charges, including theft, failure to appear in court, probation violation and domestic violence, against him in six Texas counties between 1992 and 2010.

The Southern Baptist Convention does not screen prospective ministers, because under Baptist polity each church is free to choose its own leaders with our without the guidance of denominational leaders. The denomination encourages local churches to conduct background checks, however, and offers them at discounted prices through LifeWay Christian Resources.