Hillcrest School Nigeria Case

January 31, 2024

The EMCC continues to investigate the conduct of Jim McDowell, former EMCC credential holder, after his confession on FaceBook that he abused boys while he worked at Hillcrest School in Nigeria. 

As reported in previous communications, the EMCC is working with a group of Missions agencies and the Hillcrest Board of Governors to launch an independent investigation into allegations of abuse at Hillcrest by Mr. McDowell and others in positions of authority at the school. 

Also reported in previous communications was that the EMCC has completed an independent investigation of Mr. McDowell’s conduct upon returning to Canada from Nigeria.  The findings of that investigation are on our website. 

We have now contracted Veritas Solutions to conduct an independent investigation into Mr. McDowell’s conduct in the time between leaving Hillcrest School and returning to Canada (1984 – 1991).  We have been given reason to believe that Mr. McDowell may have engaged in further abuse of young boys during that time. 

If anyone has any knowledge of abuse during this time period – as a victim or someone a victim may have shared their story with – we encourage you to reach out through our reporting portal (Report Abuse/Sexual Misconduct - Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (emcc.ca)) and we will connect you with the investigator.  You do not need to share your story with us on the portal – just simply let us know that you are a victim or have information.

This investigation will remain open until March 31, 2024, so all victim complaints should be submitted to the portal by that time.

The EMCC will share the findings of this investigation when it has been completed.

December 5, 2023

In June 2023, the EMCC contracted Veritas Solutions to conduct a formal, third-party investigation into Mr. McDowell upon his return to Canada from Nigeria. The investigation was completed by Veritas’ Director of Faith-Based Investigations and was completed in the fall of 2023. The investigator spoke to several individuals who were believed to have knowledge of Mr. McDowell’s activities and none had knowledge nor evidence of any misconduct since his return to Canada.

While no evidence of misconduct was found, the investigator does not believe that this is necessarily indicative that Mr. McDowell has not engaged in any misconduct since his return. Rather, due to credibility concerns, the investigator believes there is a reasonable likelihood that Mr. McDowell may have reoffended. A summary of findings may be requested by emailing concernsreporting@emcc.ca.

Mr. McDowell’s credentials were suspended by the EMCC immediately upon hearing of his confession. After receiving the findings of the independent investigation, Mr. McDowell’s credentials have been permanently terminated as a result of Mr. McDowell breaching the EMCC’s Ministerial Covenant and policies.

The leadership of the local EMCC church he occasionally attends has been notified of the investigation findings.

The EMCC invites anyone who may have information about any misconduct Mr. McDowell may have engaged in to please contact our Abuse Response Facilitator through the reporting portal on our website: EMCC Reporting Portal.

The EMCC deeply grieves for those who have been harmed by Mr.McDowell’s actions.

The EMCC has agreed to participate in a larger independent investigation into the allegations of historical abuse at the Hillcrest School.



December 6, 2022

Update from EMCC President John Cressman

The Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada is committed to creating and ensuring safe environments for worship, witness, and work; free from sexual misconduct. We will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form including sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and child abuse by its credentialed ministers and missionaries and Global Workers, (non-licensed) employees, contract workers, or volunteers in service to or with EMCC, its churches, institutions, agencies, organizations, or other bodies that operate under its name. The EMCC National Board has been horrified to hear about these historical evils and have directed the National Team to address these matters. 

As President of the EMCC, I sincerely apologize to all victims for not communicating sooner on the work that EMCC has been undertaking since the confession of sexual misconduct by James McDowell in April of 2021. Our silence over these past months may have contributed to further harm and for that we are deeply sorry. With our full acknowledgement that victims have been disbelieved, silenced and invalidated by church leaders in the past, we offer our support toward healing and justice. 

This communication is to inform and update on EMCC's actions and plans.

  1. After a preliminary investigation, the EMCC is launching a formal investigation into this case, led by a qualified, third-party investigator. For credibility, once that investigator has been contracted, his or her qualifications will be identified.

    The EMCC is also partnering with other Missions Agencies to request that Hillcrest School Board launch an independent investigation into historical abuse and misconduct incidents.

    The EMCC has been working with the Hillcrest Survivors Steering Committee as a liaison for Hillcrest School abuse victims.

  2. EMCC has recently updated our website portal for victims to safely report with confidentiality to qualified third-party Victim Advocate Facilitator. Our Victim Advocate Facilitator has been assigned to simply receive your contact information and direct you either to a qualified counsellor to confidentially receive your story. We would invite victims to contact us through this portal. Complaints of sexual misconduct and any abuse will be taken seriously and investigated with integrity and fairness promptly and with concern for the wellbeing of complainants and other involved parties. https://www.emcc.ca/can-we-help/report-abuse-sexual-misconduct/

    Further, we would request anyone who has information about this case to report it to us, for sake of the victims, and as part of your moral, spiritual and legal obligation. Please use the same portal and identify yourself as one has relevant information for our investigation. Our Victim Advocate Facilitator will connect you with our investigator.

  3. We have created a place on our website for all updates to be posted to keep you informed. https://www.emcc.ca/can-we-help/report-abuse-sexual-misconduct/hillcrest/

  4. We are setting up procedures, mechanisms and resources to support victims through grants for counselling services. These grants will be adjudicated by a third party in order to protect confidentiality and ensure equity. We are targeting early 2023 to have this in operation.

  5. We will be taking preventative steps in 2023 to require all EMCC Credential Holders (this includes licensed and ordained minister as our missionaries/supervised global workers) to take sexual abuse prevention training. Further, in 2023, we are developing a Credential Holders Manual which include instructions and information on these matters.

    In 2023, we intend to strengthen reporting through the Annual Reports that are required from EMCC Credential Holders. EMCC is responsible for credentialing. Each local congregation is responsible to have an Abuse Prevention Policy in place and follow it.

  6. We are planning to offer a teaching session/panel on Understanding and Redeeming Authority, Power and Abuse in the Church. This will take place at our upcoming General Assembly - April 29, 2023. Details about Assembly will be available on our website.

The EMCC deeply grieves for those who have suffered harassment, misconduct or abuse from a Christian leader. As an organization, we take these matters and allegations seriously. We are committed to measures that prevent acts of sexual misconduct. We would invite victims to contact us through our web portal to connect with our Victim Advocate Facilitator to take next steps.

May 25, 2021

It is with deeply saddened hearts and disquieted spirits that we share with you a most concerning development within the life of the EMCC. On April 17, we received disturbing reports of an admission in an online forum to multiple instances of misconduct towards minors and vulnerable individuals from an individual associated with the EMCC. After appropriate due diligence, we have ascertained that James McDowell, who has served in a number of capacities within the EMCC, including as a global worker and as Associate Director of World Partners, Director of Personnel, confessed to multiple instances of misconduct against minors and vulnerable individuals. 

Our prayers are firmly with those who have suffered this misconduct and we stand united with them against any and all forms of such misconduct. Such misconduct is deeply grievous to the heart of God and stands in direct opposition to Christ’s command to minister well to the “least among us”. We affirm the biblical injunction that offense against “little ones” is of serious concern for the follower of Jesus (Luke 17:2).

We are presently working with various organizations close to this issue and local law enforcement to address these instances of misconduct in an appropriate way that ensures justice for all. Our desire is to see full restoration and accountability in this circumstance and, therefore, we are committed to praying for James and Pat, as well as, connecting with agencies with a restorative justice approach who specialize in working with abuse survivors and offenders to seek guidance and insight on steps to move forward.

We are sharing this information with you because of:

(a)  the scriptural teaching of 1 Timothy 5:19-20 (ESV), which reads “do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear”

(b)  the position of trust that James occupied within the EMCC, and most importantly,

(c)  to protect the most vulnerable among us from any further possible misconduct.

Our EMCC bylaws clearly stipulate the following as a point of covenant with each EMCC credentialed minister: I understand that as a Christian minister I am called to a life of exemplary speech and conduct. I understand that the following unbecoming conduct (not an all-inclusive list) is incompatible with Christian standards and is just cause for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from service and revocation of ministerial credentials: breach of trust or confidence, theft, fraud, lying, criminal activity, marital unfaithfulness, sexual intimacy or intercourse (either homosexual or heterosexual) before or outside of marriage (being the exclusive covenant union of one man and one woman), sexual harassment abuse or interference, substance abuse (including tobacco, alcohol or other drugs), addictive behaviour including use of materials that devalue and debase sexuality (e.g. pornography), violent or abusive behaviour or speech.

We find that James has violated this covenantal agreement and therefore for the protection of the vulnerable within the EMCC, for the preservation of the good name of the EMCC, and for the sake of our witness to Jesus Christ, we are informing you, our constituency, of this significant breach of covenant.

As a result of this, we are enacting our present policies as well as actively reviewing our policies and procedures in relation to such misconduct, to strengthen our ability to ensure the most vulnerable among us are protected. Though all of this is in a very preliminary stage, we desire to create safe spaces for conversation around issues of such misconduct and urge you to contact us at monitor@emcc.ca or to reach out to a trusted friend, if more comfortable.

We covet your prayers at this very difficult time. If you have questions or concerns, please direct them to EMCC Board of Directors member Reverend Scott Clubine, who has been named as a point person for this matter, at monitor@emcc.ca