Chad Lester, pastor of Camel Creek Community, 38 years old, compulsive sexual predator, founder of TrueLife Ministries, popular author and conference speaker. He is an administrative control freak, with one area of his life not under control.
Michelle Lester, estranged wife of Chad, has been separated from him for 2 years. Divorce is almost final. Married for 16 years before that. They have two daughters, 17 and 15, named Shannon and Kimberly respectively. Her lover is Brian Lewis, her investment broker.
John Mitchell is the pastor of Grace Reformed, a small Reformed Baptist church in the same city with Camel Creek. His wife is named Cindi, and he has one daughter still at home, a high school junior named Sandy. He, almost entirely against his will, is dragged into the mess through a series of odd circumstances in his church and family. He is confronted with the necessity of ministering to Chad Lester, a man he detests.
Daniel Rourke, a veteran detective with the city police department, has been assigned to investigate criminal liability in the charges that have been leveled against Chad Lester. He is a devout RC, but not too scrupulous. The criminal investigation is not a serious one; the DA simply wants to get his name in the papers in case he runs for governor in a few years.
Rourke’s partner, John Bradford, is comparatively naive (in police work only), but a quick study. He grew up a hardshell Baptist in Arkansas, but only attends church when visiting his folks at Christmas.
Chad Lester’s accuser is a 28-year-old bipolar man named Robert P. Warner II. A shiftless collector of unemployment, he has falsely accused Chad Lester of sexually abusing him 10 years earlier. The charge is entirely spurious — Lester’s clerical abuse has been entirely and extensively hetero. Robert P. Warner II is now sexually entangled with Mystic Union, his New Age therapist, a chiropractor and all-round nut.
Mystic Union is the former Mrs. Winmore, the ex-wife of Pastor Winmore, the previous pastor of Grace Reformed and John Mitchell’s predecessor.
Michael Martin is an associate pastor of counseling at Camel Creek. He is the one who on two occasions molested Robert P. Warner, a clueless counselee who thought he was “seeing the pastor” whenever he went to Camel Creek. Years later, the thought of getting some money out of the incidents occurred to him and he looked up the name of “the pastor” in a phone book, told Mystic Union about it, and she took it from there.
Sharon Atwater is the omni-competent church secretary. She is 2 years away from retirement, which explains why she has told no one that she no longer believes in God. She knows about Chad Lester’s infidelities, and hates everything about Camel Creek and is entirely cynical, but keeps that to herself — for the most part.
Johnny Quinn is one of the second tier youth ministers, for which position he has considerable gifts and abilities. The director of the youth program has told him that his future with youth ministry is extraordinarily bright. He is an intelligent, active, sincere and devout evangelical. His one problem is that every month or so he winds up sleeping with Brandy Walker, who works at Camel Creek’s radio station. The problem started 2 years before when Brandy was in his small Bible study and back rub group. She is a sincere Christian as well, with both of them seeking forgiveness every time it happens.
Charles Peaborne was a manager in the accounting department of the church and a classic paper clip counter. Despite this, he has no sense of proportion and is oblivious to the payoffs to Lester’s various mistresses. His superior was Miguel Smith, Camel Creek’s CFO, and a chief crony of Chad Lester’s.
News Babe is a local television reporter, bold, blonde and brassy, who is constantly underfoot.
Camel Creek Community Church is at the center of a vast ganglion of ministries, including, but not limited to:
King’s Academy Christian Schools
New Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center
KING radio ministries
And many more . . .