Perry Noble, founding pastor of NewSpring Church, has been fired from the South Carolina megachurch due to alcohol abuse and other "unfortunate choices and decisions" and is currently under psychiatric care.
In a statement released on Sunday, the church called the firing of Noble "the most difficult and painful decision we have had to make."
"Perry has made some unfortunate choices and decisions that have caused us much concern," the church said. "Over the course of several months our Executive Pastors met with and discussed at length with Perry these concerns regarding his personal behavior and spiritual walk. Perry's posture towards his marriage, increased reliance on alcohol and other behaviors, were of continual concern."
While the Executive Pastors confronted Noble and "went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18," the pastor refused to "properly address these ongoing issues and didn't take the necessary steps toward correcting them." Thus, as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and the church's bylaws, Noble is no longer qualified to continue as a pastor at NewSpring Church.
"We will continue to love Perry and his family during this difficult time and we are committed to continue to pray for their healing. We are also committed to providing personal support to Perry and his family in the days ahead," the statement concludes.
In a separate statement, Noble, who founded the 30,000 member-church in 1998, said he wished the announcement was a "joke" or "part of a sermon illustration."
"However, it's true," the pastor confessed. "In in my obsession to do everything possible to reach 100,000 and beyond - it has come at a personal cost in my own life and created a strain on my marriage."
Noble admitted that while the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol, it clearly prohibits drunkenness and intoxication.
"I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol," he said. "This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others."
He added, "I have no excuse - this was wrong, sinful and I am truly sorry. For those who are disappointed in me - let me assure you no one is more disappointed in me than myself. I realize that I cannot continue to do effective ministry if this issue in my personal life is not adequately addressed."
Noble said he plans to "immediately seek the spiritual guidance of some amazing men and women of God in my life - and am currently under the treatment of an excellent psychiatrist who is helping me take major steps forward."
"Let me be very clear, neither Lucretia nor I have committed any sort of sexual sin," he said. "I have not stolen money. I have not been looking at porn and there was absolutely no domestic abuse. This is the story-period. I simply need to address an issue that has gotten out of hand in my life."
According to the church website, Clayton King, a "friend to NewSpring since the very beginning," will step in as Interim Senior Pastor.
Greenville Online notes that NewSpring is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but leaders of that organization have criticized Noble regarding the church's use of secular music and controversial view of the Ten Commandments.