Pastor hired at new church: Ex-local minister’s hearing continued to later this month

A change-of-plea hearing for former First Christian Church pastor Justin K. White has been continued to later this month as White begins a new pastoral assignment outside Bartholomew County.

Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash requested that the change-of-plea hearing be moved to 8:45 a.m. Aug. 28. It had been scheduled for Monday.

White, 38, of 3255 Sunrise Drive, is accused in Bartholomew Circuit Court of felony insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two felonies involving a burglary he is accused of staging at his home last year.

White’s attorney, Mark J. Dove of North Vernon, said in an earlier interview that he anticipates “resolving the case in the near future.”

White has been hired at a new church which meets at Camp Camby near Camby in Morgan County to minister to the homeless, Dove said. The organization provides transitional housing for the homeless, and since homelessness is often caused by drug addiction, White was asked to be the working pastor to people dealing with drug issues, he said. Dove described the drug issue as something that brought White to where he is now.

Dove initially was not aware that White had taken another pastoral job, but White contacted his attorney after The Republic reached out to the ministry seeking information.

White’s telephone number and email is listed with an entity called Still Waters Church at Camp Camby, which announced that it was starting services Saturday.

White has a plea of not guilty pending before the court, and a jury trial date is set for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 5 in Circuit court, according to Bartholomew County court records.

White is accused of filing an insurance claim for a Dec. 18 burglary that he staged to obtain money to pay a drug debt, court records state. The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor relates to White begin accused of seeking to have a juvenile commit an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, dealing in a narcotic drug.

White was arrested at his home by Columbus Police detectives March 24 and was released from the Bartholomew County Jail the next day after posting $150,000 bond.

Dove said there are no restrictions relating to White being employed in the ministry as a part of his bond, only that he remain within the state of Indiana.

The social media postings for the Still Waters Church say the facility is not a typical church but is a “gathering of people who know they are broken, who understand it’s OK not to be OK and who are searching for peace and healing.”

The posting says the church does not judge or discriminate.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’re addicted to or what mistakes you’ve made,” the church’s social media page says. “You matter to God, and because of that, you matter to us.”

The former pastor at First Christian Church was given an extended leave of absence in July 2015 to deal with an opioid addiction that began after he was prescribed with pain medication from a doctor he was seeing for headaches, a church representative said.

The probable-cause affidavit for the charges against White states the former pastor overdosed on heroin July 27, 2015, and police administered naloxone, a drug-overdose antidote, to revive him.

After that incident, White was treated at an addiction-treatment center in Minnesota, court records state. After returning to Columbus, he resumed his role as First Christian Church senior minister under requirements from the church which included counseling, random drug testing and monitoring by the elders, the church representative said.

White reported the Dec. 18 burglary to police, saying he had been at church preaching when the incident occurred, court records state. White made an insurance claim seeking $11,460.75 in compensation for the items, court records state.

However, as detectives investigated, they found no signs of forced entry to the home and became suspicious regarding other factors in the burglary.

White advised church elders Dec. 24 that he was being accused by police of planning the robbery, church leaders told the congregation.

Because of the stress of the investigation and that White thought he was unjustly accused, the senior minister first turned to alcohol and then sustained a second drug overdose, the congregation was told, and White was placed on an indefinite leave of absence in mid-January.

White submitted his resignation as First Christian Church senior minister March 12, and it was accepted by church elders the next day, church representatives said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.