Pastor who quit in sex case speaks at new church
Staff Writer, The Dallas Morning News
At times, the 150-member congregation stood and applauded and shouted hearty amens in support of Mr. Gilyard's new ministry. "I ask for unequivocal forgiveness,' Mr. Gilyard said. "Some will claim that I have failed to repent because I stepped back into the pulpit,' he said. "But God above is my judge. I'll obey God rather than man.' Mr. Gilyard, 29, resigned from Victory Baptist Church July 10 after confessing sexual misconduct to church officials.
Allegations from church members prompted First Baptist Church officials, including Dr. Paige Patterson, Mr. Gilyard's mentor and a former teacher, to launch an investigation.
The Dallas Morning News last week detailed charges from five women of Mr. Gilyard's sexual misdeeds. Charges from the women ranged from improper phone calls to affairs.
Similar allegations had followed Mr. Gilyard throughout his preaching career. Officials at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Cliff fired him in 1987 after about 25 women there complained.
The Sunday service marked Mr. Gilyard's first public statement since his resignation.
In a letter mailed last week to members of his former church, Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Mr. Gilyard said the charges to which he confessed were not current but from years past. He also said that he has started a strict system of accountability to his - wife and a group of men. "There are several steps to make sure that I never again fall into the same satanic snare,' Mr. Gilyard told his new congregation Sunday.
He said that sometimes he had been too embarrassed to pray. "I have never cried like I have the past 10 days,' Mr. Gilyard said. "I'm enrolled in God's school of redemption, purification and restoration.' He said he had a "God-given vision' to organize a new integrated church.
Supporters said they would not be swayed by attacks on Mr. Gilyard. Most worshipers were supportive and said Mr. Gilyard's ministry had touched their lives. "He is a master storyteller who has the ability to tell the story of Jesus Christ in a way no one else can,' said Carol Bolar, who left Victory Baptist upon Mr. Gilyard's resignation.
After his departure, some of his followers tried to find ways to keep their pastor, said longtime Victory Baptist member Ethel Spencer. "My phone was like Grand Central Station with people calling to say they did not want the pastor to leave,' Mrs. Spencer said.
Mrs. Spencer said she called Mr. Gilyard last week to ask him to continue his ministry at the request of some church members. "In a very slow, humble voice he said, "Yes,' ' she said. "We are here today to help this young man get back on his feet.' Mr. Gilyard said his message was not in its usual sermon form.
Instead, he used a prepared "statement from his heart.' The statement, which he titled "Grace Is Really Amazing,' was based on scripture from Romans 5:20-21. The scripture says that even though sin abounds, there is more grace from Christ than there is sin. "Nearly two weeks ago, I publicly stood and confessed to past actions of impropriety,' said Mr. Gilyard, as he clung to the sides of the lectern. "It was the toughest assignment God has ever given to me. "Many allegations are totally unfounded,' said Mr. Gilyard, who did not elaborate.
During the service, Mr. Gilyard asked his wife, Jana, to join him in the pulpit. He praised his family for its loving support during his crisis. "In days past, I didn't have the confidence to ask her to stand beside me,' Mr. Gilyard said. "But God has placed in her heart a sacrificial love. "My actions were in no part a reflection of failure on her part,' he said. "Our family is together not only today, but it will always be together,' he said before embracing his wife.
The comment drew a roaring standing ovation from the congregation.
Mr. Gilyard said leaving Victory Baptist was not an ending but a beginning. He said he refuses to be known as a quitter. "Through this I'll be a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better pastor,' he said.
"God will make me better.' During a testimonial period, many worshipers voiced their support for Mr. Gilyard. "All of us have done something in our lives that we're not proud of,' Everett Randolph said. "But we serve a God of a second - chance.' Mr. Gilyard said he will meet with church members to discuss moving to a permanent building near North Central Expressway. "My problem will be resolved," Mr. Gilyard said. "I don't want my problem to be an excuse. My storm will pass.'
"Richardson minister quits amid sex charges," Dallas Morning News, 7/12/91
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