Ohio church apologizes after pastor encourages students to spit on him, cut him with knife

The lesson was supposed to teach students about Easter and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the church said.

This browser does not support the video element.

By Minyvonne Burke

An Ohio church is apologizing after an associate pastor asked students to spit on him, slap him and cut him with a knife during an Easter lesson on the crucifixion of Jesus.

The lesson, which was filmed by a student and shared on social media, took place Monday during an after-school program at Impact City Church in Pataskala.

In the video, the church's part-time associate pastor Jaddeus Dempsey is seen standing at the front of a room as teenagers walk up to him and spit in his face. Several others then slap him across the face.

At one point, Dempsey pulls out a knife and hands it to a teenager to cut him with. The teenager hesitates before another student grabs the knife and drags it slowly across Dempsey's back. It doesn't appear as if the knife broke skin.

The exercise was supposed to show what Jesus endured leading up to his crucifixion. The Easter holiday celebrates Jesus' resurrection after he died on the cross.

Lead pastor Justin Ross, right, apologizes for the video, posted on social media, showing youths spitting on, hitting and using a knife to cut associate pastor Jaddeus Dempsey, left.Impact City Church / via Facebook

One parent, Amanda Quick, told WBNS that she didn't understand why Dempsey encouraged the students to attack him.

“They are supposed to be role models. They are supposed to be people our children can look up to," she said. "I understand where they came from, but I don't understand it."

Ai’Janae Parker, 12, who was in attendance, told the outlet she thought it was "weird and awkward."

In an apology video posted Tuesday to the church's Facebook page, lead pastor Justin Ross called the exercise "inappropriate" but said the intent behind it was important.

"After Jaddeus allowed them to spit on him, and slap him and cut him, he sat them down and he explained to them about this guy named Jesus," Ross said.

Several students spit and slapped Dempsey, Ross said. One student used a steak knife, provided by Dempsey, to cut him. The church did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

"It was inappropriate for this audience, and there's really no excuse for why it happened," Ross said.

Dempsey also apologized, saying in the video that his lesson "crossed the line."

"I'm so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, the students," he said. "My intention was just to show them how much Jesus loved them. ... I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused."

In an updated post on Tuesday, the church said its Board of Directors would be conducting an investigation and their "findings and recommendations are going to be fully implemented."

Minyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Shamar Walters contributed.