Winston-Salem, NC-- Police in Winston-Salem said they've arrested and charged a convicted sex offender with raping a child at church.
"Evil is a reality but hope is also a reality," said Dr. Kendall Jones, Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church.
The investigation started in March after officers were called to New Bethel Baptist Church on North Trade Street. A church member told investigators that they invited Henry Clifford Byrd Sr. to participate in activities at the church.
According to the pastor, the reported rape happened during a special service on Saturday, March 23rd. The alleged incident happened in the church kitchen.
According to the witness, at some point during the evening they learned that Byrd had possibly sexually assaulted one of the children at the church. Police were called immediately by the Pastor.
"We are walking through unthreaded waters. We realize that God is with us in this uncertainty of the hour," said Dr. Jones.
Police say it was during their investigation that detectives said they discovered Byrd is listed as a registered sex offender.
On Tuesday, officers said they arrested and charged Henry Clifford Byrd Sr. with First Degree Rape of a Child and Indecent Liberties with a Child.
WFMY News 2 checked Byrd's record on the NC Sex Offender Registry and it shows that he was convicted in 2000 of Indecent Liberties with a Minor. He was released in 2006. According to a police report, Byrd has a list of other charges. Pastor Jones said he wasn't aware of Byrd's criminal past.
"Our hope is that we can still be a church that invited the broken, but still needs to be healed. I think that's the message of Christ and we want to continue that message. But we need to be smarter about the brokenness of other, as we seek to minister to those, who come through the doors of New Bethel Baptist Church."
Pastor Jones also added, church officials are in the process of coming up with an enhanced security policy for the church.
Byrd is in the Forsyth County Detention Center under a $500,000.00 secured bond.
Click on NC Sex Offender Registry for more information.