Relaymedia

Tullian Tchividjian Fired from Willow Creek; Liberate Board Members Resign: 'God Knows I'm Sorry for All the Damage I've Caused'

( [email protected] ) Mar 17, 2016 09:45 AM EDT
Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of prominent evangelist Billy Graham who resigned as the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida after admitting to an affair, has been removed from ministry by his new church, Willow Creek Presbyterian.
Billy Graham's grandson Tullian Tchividjian has been removed from his position at Willow Creek Church. Photo Credit: RNS

Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of prominent evangelist Billy Graham who resigned as the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida after admitting to an affair, has been removed from ministry by his new church, Willow Creek Presbyterian.

The decision was first reported by blogger Warren Throckmorton, who was told by Willow Creek's pastor Kevin Labby that Tchividjian, 43, would no longer be serving with the church.

Later, the church confirmed the news in a statement, telling Christianity Today: "In view of some recent disclosures of which we were previously unaware, we recently decided to end [his] employment."

Tchividjian was initially hired by Willow Creek as director of ministry development about two months after he resigned from Coral Ridge, but was not given any pastoral or teaching responsibilities. The move made waves among the evangelical community, as Tchividjian was deposed of his clergy credentials by the South Florida Presbytery following his resignation from Coral Ridge.

Labby also told Throckmorton that that he and four other board members (out of nine total) have resigned from Tchividjian's Liberate Network, founded in 2011. The ministry, whose mission is described as "to connect God's inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world through books, conferences, television, radio, social media, and a variety of other mediums", was relaunched last month.

While Tchividjian remained on sabbatical from its board, Liberate released a statement praising the pastor's progress: "The process is going remarkably well, and we are very encouraged by his honesty, humility, repentance, and commitment to healing."

In a statement to CT on Wednesday, the pastor confirmed he will continue to seek counsel over the upcoming months "Although, this has been extremely difficult for me to do, I remain committed to that painful and progressive process," he said.

"Nothing grieves me more than the fact that people are suffering because of my sins, both in my past as well as in the present," he added. "I want to be perfectly clear that I take full responsibility for this.

"Please pray for those who are most deeply affected and please respect their privacy," he said. "God knows how sorry I am for all the damage I've caused and the people who have been hurt. Please pray that the good work God has begun will be carried out to completion."

Tchividjian resigned from his position as pastor last year after admitting to an "inappropriate" relationship with another woman who was not his wife. He later claimed that his affair was short lived, but the consequences of his decision left him and his family devastated.

"It was a short lived thing. It wasn't a long thing, but it was the worst external decision I have ever made in my life up to this point and I'm wrestling with the aftermath of that. I'm trying to figure out what does life look like from this point forward. I'm trying to evaluate ..." he told Vanderbloemen Search Group in August, shortly after filing for divorce from his wife.

In a statement shared on his Facebook page in February, Tchividjian said he was doing "better now spiritually, emotionally, and mentally than I have in probably years" thanks to "a great counselor, a great pastor, great elders, and a great church."

He continued: "This place and these people have become a sanctuary for me...a place where I'm getting the help and healing I need and long for, a place where I'm learning to breathe again. I was telling my mom the other day that, even though this past year has been rocked by loss and pain and so much death, I'm more content and clear and at peace than I was a year ago...two years ago. Sometimes when it seems that God is killing you, he's actually making you alive."