The dynamic builder of a 6,500-member congregation bent on winning Seattle's upscale Eastside suburbs for Christ has resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Bob Moorehead, senior pastor of Overlake Christian Church since 1970, steadfastly maintains his innocence, but stepped down June 15 because his credibility in the community had been "seriously damaged."

Overlake's board of elders decided to dismiss the allegations of 17 accusers, based upon "the biblical process" for handling accusations against an elder. Moorehead, 61, was one of 14 elders governing the nondenominational evangelical church, which in November moved into a new $37.5 million facility in Redmond, Washington.

PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR HIRED: The events that led to Moorehead's resignation began in July 1996 with his arrest on a charge of indecent exposure in a public restroom near his vacation home in Daytona Beach, Florida. Under controversial circumstances, charges were dropped. But news coverage of the story prompted four men to make accusations that Moorehead had molested them during adult baptism and wedding ceremonies. A private investigator hired by the elders interviewed 17 men who gave similar accounts of events that occurred as long as 20 years ago. The statute of limitations has expired in nearly all the cases.

The overseers of the largest church in Washington State interpret 1 Timothy 5:19 to require another witness, besides the accuser, in order to consider an accusation against an elder. The elders conceded, however, that Moorehead was not "above reproach" as required by 1 Timothy 3:2 and consequently needed to resign. They presented a verbal summary of their decision to the congregation on May 27, based on information from the private investigator's ...

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