A Florida Baptist church that recently opened its pulpit to a registered sex offender has been asked to withdraw from its local association of Southern Baptist churches.
Jacksonville Baptist Association leaders said March 2 that conversations with leadership of Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church produced a “mutual understanding that it is necessary” for the church to withdraw from membership.
The small congregation made international headlines recently after barring children from worship in order to accommodate terms of probation for Darrell Gilyard. Gilyard began preaching there at the end of January, one month after he completed a three-year prison term for sex crimes with two underage girls committed while he was pastor of a different church.
Gilyard, 50, pleaded guilty in 2009 to lewd or lascivious conduct and molestation involving two girls younger than 16. He remains on a three-year supervised probation that bars him from having unsupervised contact with minors.
David Tarkington, moderator of Jacksonville Baptist Association, and Lead Missions Strategist Rick Wheeler, said in a statement that they were “broken and saddened” by information being reported about the church.
While “affirming the autonomy of member churches,” the leaders said, “the circumstances of CTMBC do concern us.” The association contacted Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church to communicate those concerns, leading to an understanding that the congregation would “leave the fellowship of the Jacksonville Baptist Association.” The church intends to confirm that understanding in writing, according to the associational leaders.
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press