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Monday, September 01, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor in trouble also lied about his past

Some false credentials for the Windsor pastor accused of inappropriate contact with teen girls have been provided at least three times since 2005.

The incorrect credentials include academic degrees from schools he did not graduate from, pastoral jobs he did not hold and a police task-force position he never filled, according to interviews with school officials, people who worked with him and police.

The Rev. Scott Allen Snyder, 35, of Windsor said he did not know where the information posted on his church Web site came from. He did not respond to requests for comment about resumes said to be from him that were provided by a previous employer, and he repeatedly declined to disclose an accurate educational history.

"I simply am not going to bring embarrassment to other organizations for accusations of things that I did not do and certainly believe will all be dismissed when this is all said and done," Snyder said by e-mail.

On Aug. 11, Pennsylvania State Police charged Snyder with two counts of corruption of minors.

Officers say Snyder kissed a 13-year-old girl from his congregation and sent thousands of text messages, including some obscene images, to her and another girl, who is 14.

Court documents state that Snyder admitted to the acts; however, he refuted the claims in an Aug. 15 e-mail to the York Daily Record/Sunday News. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 2.

Snyder grew up in Chanceford Township and is founding pastor of the nondenominational New Beginnings Bible Fellowship in Windsor, which also operates a Christian school for children ages 2 to fourth grade.

The "About Our Pastor" section of the church's site, www.newbbf.com/aboutpastor, states that Snyder earned a "doctor degree" in Bible theology from Maryland Baptist Bible College in Elkton, Md.

"He was here, but he did not complete a degree," registrar Robert Straughan said in an Aug. 19 interview.

Between fall 1991 and spring 1993, Snyder completed 37 credits in undergraduate classes at the Bible college, Straughan said. That equates to about a year's worth of study at the unaccredited school.

Earlier this month, Snyder acknowledged that the New Beginnings Web site is incorrect. He said he does have a doctor of theology degree but would not identify the source of that doctorate.

The church site also states that Snyder earned an "associates degree" in child psychology from the University of Maryland. Snyder said earlier this month he took "a few" classes at the University of Maryland but did not earn a degree.

University records do not show that he enrolled in any classes.

"We have nothing to confirm that Mr. Snyder ever attended the University of Maryland," David Ottalini, a spokesman for the University of Maryland at College Park, said Aug. 20 after checking with the campus registrar's Diploma Office.

Officials at the 10 other institutions in the University System of Maryland said they had no record of Snyder taking courses there.

"As I said, I did not write this information and had no idea the wrong institutions were listed," Snyder said by e-mail. "The information in this area of our website was not all correct and it has been removed."

A link to the "About Our Pastor" section was deleted from the site earlier this month, but the page was still live as of Saturday. Snyder said an "outside source" produces the Web site.

The Web site is not the only source to cite such credentials for Snyder.

Rick Sitler, head deacon at New Beginnings, sent an e-mail to the York Daily Record/Sunday News in July 2006, following up a news release about the then-6-month-old church moving to Main Street in Windsor.

Sitler wrote: "Pastor Scott holds a master's degree from Maryland Baptist Bible College and an associate's degree in child psychology from the University of Maryland."

Sitler did not return calls or e-mails requesting comment.

Regarding Sitler's e-mail, Snyder said, "The information about my education was misunderstood when quoted to you in the past. I do hold the degrees listed just not from the institutions listed."

Another pastor, the Rev. John Delozier, recalled Snyder saying he had degrees from Maryland Baptist Bible College and the University of Maryland. Delozier provided copies of resumes that Snyder gave to Lighthouse Community Church in Red Lion, where Snyder was assistant pastor at the time.

Delozier met Snyder in 2005 when his church was merging with Lighthouse Community Church. Later, Delozier said, he saw Snyder identified as "Dr. Scott Snyder" on sermon videos broadcast on TV and posted online at YouTube.

"I remember thinking, 'Oh, he must have gotten his doctorate,'" Delozier said.

The Lighthouse Community Church board was preparing to check Snyder's credentials when the Rev. Bill Brown, then senior pastor, fired Snyder, said both Delozier and Brown in interviews.

Shortly before the church merger, the pastors and others heard that Snyder was planning to start his own congregation and was accepting monetary donations from members for the new church, Delozier said.

Soon after his departure, Snyder began New Beginnings Bible Fellowship with 40 to 60 people from the Lighthouse ministry -- about half the congregation, Delozier said.

Snyder disputes part of that account. He said some members had demanded Brown quit. Several withheld tithes from the Lighthouse ministry to start a new church, but he did not hold the money, Snyder said.

"The day I was confronted about the information I told them I was aware of people not giving to the lighthouse and unless Pastor Brown step down as asked they were going to leave and start another church," Snyder said by e-mail. "I was then asked to leave and over 80% of the membership handed in there membership and helped form New Beginnings to which the people called me to be there Pastor."

The Lighthouse episode wasn't the first time Snyder was involved in a church split, according to the Rev. Randy Starr of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Chanceford Township.

Starr, senior pastor, said Snyder grew up in the Mount Zion church, which his family also attended.

"In September of 1994, he split our church and took 22 people, himself included, and started a home church in his grandmother's basement," Starr said.

That became Lighthouse Bible Church, which later met in Red Lion. It folded in 2002. Snyder did not respond to a request for comment about his time at Mount Zion.

Snyder lists his leadership at Lighthouse Bible Church and other experience on the two resumes he submitted to Lighthouse Community Church.

A handwritten, undated resume states that Snyder attended Maryland Baptist Bible College from 1991-1993, earning two master's degrees, one in "Bible" and one in "psycology."

A typed, undated resume states that Snyder earned a single master's degree in "Bible theology" from the Bible college and an associate degree in "child psycology" from the University of Maryland.

The resumes also list years Snyder spent as an intern pastor, youth pastor and children's ministry director at Mount Zion Baptist.

While Snyder sometimes preached at Mount Zion, he never held those positions and was not licensed or ordained to ministry by the church, Starr said.

The typed resume also includes a line that states: "Certified/License- Sharpshooter/fugitive taskforce officer Pa. State Police"

State police officials said last week they neither certify nor license sharpshooters who are not state troopers, and Snyder has never served as a trooper, according to the state police human resources department in Harrisburg.

Some information on the New Beginnings church Web site has been confirmed.

A secretary at the Harford Christian School in Darlington, Md., said Snyder did graduate from the school in 1991.

She could not confirm whether Snyder was student body chaplain or whether he helped lead his soccer team to a state championship, as posted on the site.

The Web site also states that Snyder ran a sub-4-minute mile. He confirmed this by e-mail but said his school did not record the feat.

The site also states that Snyder turned down a contract with a professional soccer team to enter the ministry. This is also true, Snyder said in an e-mail, but he refused to identify the team.

Snyder maintains that any false information about his background on the Web site did not come from him. He did not respond to questions about the resumes he submitted to Lighthouse Community Church, his former employer.

"Once again this is an outward attack to discredit this ministry and myself for all that God has accomplished here. It shows once again the corruptness of the media and this world and its hatred for Jesus Christ," Snyder said by e-mail.

Staff writer Michele Canty contributed to this report.

SEE MORE

"About Our Pastor" at New Beginnings Bible Fellowship, www.newbbf.com/aboutpastor.html

Maryland Baptist Bible College, www.mbcmin.org/mbbc/index.htm

University of Maryland, www.umd.edu

DOCUMENTS

READ MORE: See the resumes that the Rev. John Delozier said Scott Allen Snyder provided to the board of Lighthouse Community Church in 2005 (Adobe PDF)

STORY LINK