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Indicted church pastor resigns prior to deacon meeting Tuesday night

WARRENTON, Ga. - An embattled pastor, facing a multi-count federal indictment on tax evasion charges in Maryland, has tenured his letter of resignation at First Baptist Church of Warrenton, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.

Dr. Otis Ray Hope, who first began serving as interim pastor of the nearly 180 year old church in Warrenton before being hired fulltime earlier this year, submitted a letter of resignation to church officials on Tuesday, three independent sources confirmed on Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone at the church on Wednesday morning said Dr. Hope was no longer was at the church - that he had resigned.

Repeated attempts to contact Dr. Hope for comment at his home in Columbia County met with no success Wednesday morning.

Dr. Hope's resignation letter was presented to the board of deacons just prior to a called meeting Tuesday night with members of the church's pastor search committee. The pastor did not submit the letter. A member of the church did so on his behalf, according to a source.

When approached at a community function about the pastor's indictment, longtime church member and Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs made the following comment:

"First Baptist Church has been a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ for nearly 180 years. This is because we have stood steadfast to the belief in the inspired and inerrrant Word of God, no matter what storms the particular times may bring. The same grace that saves sinners like us from eternal condemnation will sustain us through this storm as well."

Contacted on Wednesday about the pastor's resignation, Mayor Mimbs said, "I'm not surprised that he resigned. I stand by my previous statements. Our prayers are with Dr. Hope and his family at this time."

Web posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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