The Woodlands First Baptist Church in Texas has said it is continuing to "seek God's will with grace and truth" while announcing that the church's associate pastor, Eddie Hilburn, resigned from his position after being arrested by a police officer who he allegedly paid for sex.
Hilburn, a married associate pastor and father of three, was arrested on Wednesday by the Harris County Sheriff's Office after he paid an undercover sheriff's deputy $80 for sexual activities, KTRK reported. Hilburn, who was arrested in a hotel, was charged with prostitution Thursday morning.
On Friday, the church's senior pastor, Dr. Bruce Webb, released a statement announcing Hilburn's resignation.
"In regard to the recent arrest of Dr. Eddie Hilburn, The Woodlands First Baptist Church has received and accepted his resignation and has taken steps to notify the congregation. This is a difficult time for Eddie, his family and our church. We continue to seek God's will with grace and truth, providing love and support to all those affected, while reaffirming our commitment to the highest expectations for our Church and its leadership."
According to Hilburn's now-deleted bio on the church website, the former pastor met his wife, Lisa, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After graduating, he served as senior pastor of churches in Texas, planted a church in Wisconsin, and served as student pastor prior to joining The Woodlands.
"At the Woodlands First, Eddie coaches other staff members as they live out their calling, leads the reFresh Wednesday night event, and occasionally preaches on Sunday. Eddie feels like he wins when the other staff members win," the church said.
The Christian Post notes that a few months prior to his arrest, Hilburn preached a sermon in which he expressed the belief that God is "everywhere and He owns everything."
He also said that often, encounters with God don't always come in the way people expect, citing a report that said by 2040 some 50 percent of the world's Protestants would live in Africa and that the Christian groups sharing the Gospel and growing the fastest on the continent are Pentecostals and Charismatics.
"Those are the people God is using most to spread the Gospel in Africa and I thought to myself, well wait a minute. I think God ought to use most, some good Baptists. That's what I think because I love my Charismatic and Pentecostal friends but there are a few things they just have wrong. And so God ought to use us good Baptists more than he uses anybody else. Shouldn't He? Doesn't that make sense?" he said.
"I think God messed it up a little bit and He'll probably get it back on track by 2040 or maybe He just doesn't operate the way that I think He should," he added.