Christian festival series Creation Festival has indefinitely suspended founder Harry L. Thomas from his leadership role after the 74-year-old pastor was charged with sexually assaulting four minors over a 16-year period.
Thomas has also been suspended from his leadership position in his Medford, N.J., church, which he founded in 1983, and all of its associated ministries.
The pastor/concert founder was charged Dec. 6 with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault and four counts of endangering the welfare of children, according to the The Gazette. The crimes allegedly took place between 1999 and 2015 in the township of Medford, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
The following statement is posted on the home page of CreationFest.com: “An Important Message from the Leadership of Creation Festivals: It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the boards of Come Alive International and Creation Festivals have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival and all associated ministries. While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership is actively cooperating with the authorities and has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation. It is requested that all pray for the parties involved.”
Pollstar reached out to the festival for further comment but had not heard back at press time.
Creation Festival debuted in 1979 at a park in Lancaster, Pa., attracting 5,000 attendees, according to The Gazette. The event – which bills itself as “The Nation’s Largest Christian Music Festival // A Tribute To Our Creator” – expanded to a second location Washington state in 1998. Artists who have reportedly played the events include Skillet, TobyMac, Switchfoot, LeCrae, Family Force 5, Hillsong, Casting Crowns, For King & Country, and Crowder.
Creation Northeast returns in 2018 to Agape Farm Campground in Shirleysburg, Pa., June 27-30. Next year’s edition of Creation Northwest will be held at Benton Franklin Fairgrounds in Kennewick, Wash., July 12-14.
Promising more than 75 artists and speakers, the confirmed lineup for Northeast 2018 includes TobyMac, For King & Country, Creation NE 2017 Music Tournament Winner Dana Isles & Facedown, and CFA 2017 Music Tournament Winner Alive City.
Christianity Today reports that Creation Festivals are known as “the grandfather of Christian music festival” and “draw up to 100,000 attendees a year.” The publication points out that Creation Festivals had acquired a few other Christian events: Sonshine Festival, which was put on hold for 2017, and Ichthus Festival, which Creation stepped away from in 2016 after taking over the festival in 2013 and hosting just one edition in 2015.
Neither Creation Northeast or Creation Northwest have submitted box office data to Pollstar in recent years.
Thomas previously made headlines in 2003 when he defended church members who were accused of starving their foster children creating a website in support of the couple and offering financial support, according to the Courier-Post.