Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida announced Sunday that it removed an elder who failed to reveal that Tullian Tchividjian, former senior pastor of the church and grandson to Billy Graham, had engaged in an adulterous affair, according to a report from The Christian Post.
As reported by The Gospel Herald, Tchividjian, 43, resigned from his position as pastor of Coral Ridge last year after admitting to an extramarital affair, which he argued was prompted by the initial infidelity of his now ex-wife, Kim, with whom he has three children.
Two months later, the pastor was hired by Willow Creek Presbyterian as director of ministry development despite being deposed of his clergy credentials by the South Florida Presbytery.
In a surprising turn of events, last week, Willow Creek's pastor Kevin Labby told Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton that Tchividjian had been removed from ministry after it was revealed he had a "previously unconfessed inappropriate relationship with another woman," which occurred in 2014.
According to a recent report published by The Christian Post, Tchividjian had, in fact, confessed to having an affair with a married woman two years ago after he was confronted by two Coral Ridge elders, but was advised to keep silent.
"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, a "highly placed source" told the news outlet.
"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, stating the recent disclosure is actually part of a "systematic cover-up."
In a statement released through crisis management and public relations firm Frederick and Associates on Monday, Tchividjian said the elder board at Coral Ridge did not advise him to keep his 2014 affair a secret from his wife, but rather to be "cautious" about revealing it because of the children involved.
However, on Tuesday, a member who was in the service told The Christian Post that the church's newly appointed pastor, Rob Pacienza, confirmed Sunday that some elders had known about Tchividjian's latest affair but chose to withhold the information.
"He just apologized that this happened and we're looking forward to in the future being more transparent and pastoral. He apologized for the leadership failing the congregation. They took ownership. It was very sad but exciting for the next season. They were happy that this was the new standard," said the source.
The source added: "I think there was probably a little bit of, on one level, frustration, but on the second level there was happiness that we're more transparent and happiness for the next season. It feels very optimistic and hopeful," said the source about the announcement made by Pacienza.
In a statement released Monday, Tchividjian expressed his sorrow over his past indiscretions: "I deeply regret my actions and putting myself in the compromising position that lead me to sin the way I did," he said. "My heart grieves for all of those that have been hurt by my selfishness and foolishness. I am extremely sorry for the pain I've caused my ex wife and my kids. I will forever regret how much my sin has hurt them. The process of repentance is progressive and painful. It involves ongoing confession, not just of what's going on in my life now but, what happened in my life."
Tchividjian, who reportedly still attends Willow Creek Church despite the recent disclosure and firing, went on to express his gratitude toward the elders of the church who have "been nothing but gracious and firm with me since I have arrived and they continue to do so today." "Even though this previous sin happened before I came to Willow Creek, it pains me deeply to know that something from my past could in any way hurt these gracious people today," he said.
He concluded his message by warning that no one is above temptation: "I hope and pray that the events in my own life over the past couple years serve as a warning to all who, like I did, believe they are standing firm," he concluded. "Sin is deep. It is real. It destroys. It deceives. May this be an opportunity for all of us to examine our own hearts and beg God for the mercy and forgiveness we all need."
Frederick and Associates told The Gospel Herald that the pastor will no longer address this matter but will continue to seek "Biblical counsel for his sin."