At least two elders at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida allegedly had knowledge that their former pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, grandson to evangelical icon Billy Graham, had engaged in an adulterous affair with a married member of his flock and advised him to keep it secret from his wife.
Reacting to a report in The Christian Post Thursday that Tchividjian was fired by Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida, after they were blindsided by his latest confession, a highly placed source informed CP Friday that the recent disclosure is really the result of a “systemic cover up” by church leaders that began two years ago.
“Tullian had actually been confronted about that two years ago. At the time, he was confronted by two elders at Coral Ridge and Steve Brown (Key Life Ministries), and confessed to having a relationship with a married woman,” said the source.
“At the time, he was not advised to step down as lead pastor, but instead was advised not to immediately inform his wife about the matter — she only learned about this last week. To make matters worse, the two elders never informed the rest of the session about this situation. One can only wonder whether the second situation could have been averted if the first situation had not been covered up,” the source continued.
“This is not a situation that Tullian had kept quiet and suddenly disclosed to someone for the first time last week. It’s been known by at least three others in addition to Tullian and the woman involved for over two years,” the source added.
Tchividjian landed a job at Willow Creek Church last September, some two months after he resigned from Coral Ridge due to another confessed extramarital affair he said was triggered by the infidelity of his now ex-wife, Kim.
“As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself,” he wrote in a statement to The Washington Post last June.
His latest revelation, however, significantly disrupts that narrative and created a lot of problems for those who have been trying to help him but were kept in the dark.
“The disclosures that he made involved the fact that he had a previously unconfessed inappropriate relationship with another woman. He didn’t share specifics with us. He said the person, that’s worth saying … there were no specifics,” Willow Creek’s Senior Pastor Kevin Labby told CP Thursday.
All the new details, said Labby on Friday, was news to him even though Pastor Steve Brown of Key Life Ministries, who is alleged to have known about the affair, is a regular attendee of his church and a person with whom he also has frequent conversations.
“When this was disclosed it was the very first time I had heard of it from anybody,” Labby said.
“He’s (Brown) a member of the Central Florida Presbytery. He does attend Willow Creek but he doesn’t serve in any form of leadership there. And is not involved in any day-to-day decision making at the church. He’s a longstanding attendee of the church,” Labby told CP. “He and I talk all the time.”
Brown, through his assistant at Key Life Ministries, said he had nothing to say when contacted for comment Friday.
When asked why he felt Brown wouldn’t have informed him of Tchividjian’s earlier indiscretions, Labby said he couldn’t say.
“I can’t comment on any of that. … I really don’t know enough. I am suspending judgement,” he said.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post