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GEORGIA: Youth pastor arrested on obscenity charge

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Providence Church youth pastor Alexander LEESBURG, Ga. -- A 22-year-old former youth minister and substitute teacher was arrested last week following an obscenity charge that had been filed against him.

Alexander "Alec" Edwards was arrested Thursday for obscene Internet contact with a child after some questionable material was discovered on his phone by his parents and brought to the attention of the Lee County Sheriff's Office, said Sgt. Tommy Goodwin.

Edwards was bonded out of jail the same day. The case has been forwarded to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation so that the agency can investigate the hardware he had been using, Goodwin said.

Larry Walters, superintendent of the Lee County School System, verified that Edwards had acted as a substitute teacher last year -- and that his name has now been moved to the system's "inactive" list, which means he will not be contacted to substitute, at least in the short-term, he said.

Up until his arrest, he had been serving as the youth minister at Providence Church on Archwood Drive in Albany. The church posted a statement on its website from Lead Pastor Jason Spears:

"On Wednesday July 24th, I met with our children's pastor Alec Edwards and we discussed a sabbatical or leave of absence for the month of August, because he has recently been exhibiting signs of someone under great stress and pressure. Alec has had 3 great years of ministry here, and has always shown a passion for God and the ministry, and a strong work ethic. He agreed the time off was needed and seemed grateful.

"Friday night July 26th, Lisa and I received a call around 11 pm from a parent of a youth in the church that is not related to the children's ministry, about inappropriate written communication via social media from Alec to the youth. I went over to the house with an elder from the church, and we met with the family till 1 am. Having viewed the messages, I called Alec Saturday morning to see if we could meet with him later that morning. After asking him about the messages, he was immediately apologetic and understood the severity of the situation, to which his employment was terminated.

"Later that evening, I met with the elders and we discussed what happened, and they were all in agreement with the termination of employment. We as leadership then began to pray for Alec, the family, and our church. Because this is now a legal matter, it will not be appropriate for me, anyone in leadership, or anyone here to discuss the details of this any further until the process of the investigation has been completed. Having extensively met with everyone involved, to the best of my knowledge, this is an isolated incident that does not affect anyone else.

"Going forward, we will rely on the wonderful people who have been serving our kids ministry with great passion to see Gods love realized in their lives. Because of the sabbatical previously mentioned, the schedule for August has already been set, and we will let you know how we will proceed when the time comes. Our prayer and concern is that everyone involved be brought into healing and wholeness through the love and grace of God."