Bob Coy, host of one of iTunes most-popular podcasts on Christianity and known for his teaching on marriage, has resigned as longtime leader of one of America's largest multisite churches after confessing to a "moral failing."
One interesting trend among the widespread reactions: Followers want his past teachings put back online.
Coy, senior pastor at 18,500-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale since he founded the Florida megachurch in 1985, said the failing disqualified him from "continuing his leadership role at the church," according to a church statement released Sunday (full text below). Religion News Service broke the story, also noted by Charisma and CNN.
Coy, who authored the popular series Building a Godly Marriage along with pastoring one of the fastest growing churches in America, also reached audiences through his Active Word Radio Podcast, which ranks No. 12 on the iTunes chart for Christian podcasts, between offerings from Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes.
The Active Word media ministry has been suspended, according to the church. Coy's past sermon series on marriage was taken offline and unavailable Monday, as were other media pages at the church's website.
Among the hundreds of reactions on the church's website are requests from people who still feel Coy's past teachings are beneficial. The church explained the removal:
So why was the media content removed? Unfortunately, not everyone, during circumstances like these comes to the website with a heart to learn more about the Bible. We've discerned the need to take steps to protect Pastor Bob from those who would seize upon this time to misuse his content and use it negatively during this time in which he and his family need time and space to heal.
Unfortunately, we have already witnessed the malicious use of Pastor Bob's images and vicious rumors on-line that can only run contrary to our hope for restoration. With that in mind, we have taken the precaution to suspend access to his teaching content for now.
Please be patient with us as we seek God's wisdom and guidance on how to best restore the content that we know He has used and can continue to use to make disciples.
Coy will be focusing his attention on God and his family, according to his church's statement. "The governing board of the church is providing counselors and ministers who will help guide him through the process of full repentance, cleansing and restoration," said the church.
Coy joins three other Florida megachurch pastors who recently resigned, in those cases after acknowledging extramarital affairs. One pastor, Isaac Hunter of Summit Church, later died by suicide.
While experts say churches can heal after adultery scandals and pastors can be restored to ministry, the process has obstacles that aren't easy to navigate. The time it takes to work through the healing process can be its own point of contention: witness Benny Hinn's brother Sam, who raised eyebrows after returning to the pulpit just eight months after admitting to a four-year extramarital affair.
CT previously reported that the vast majority of National Association of Evangelical (NAE) board members say pastors can be restored to church roles after marital infidelity. The highest-profile case study: Ted Haggard, former NAE president and New Life Church pastor. The latest example: Jim Bolin of Trinity Chapel Church of God in Georgia.
In addition, CT has discussed how churches can recover after a pastor commits adultery, as well as on accountability groups for Christian leaders in Washington, D.C., where the well-being of one's marriage often impacts voters' decisions. CT also has examined whether or not wives should stand by their unfaithful husbands.
Here's the full church statement, issued Sunday:
On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985. The media ministry of the Active Word that distributes his Bible teachings through radio, television, and digital media has also been suspended.
Pastor Bob will be focusing his full attention on his personal relationship with God and with his family. The governing board of the church is providing counselors and ministers who will help guide him through the process of full repentance, cleansing and restoration.
Trusting in God's providence, protection, provision and direction, the staff of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale will continue our mission to "make disciples," through regular services at all campuses and through a myriad of other ministries the church has established over the years. A team of assistant pastors already on staff will maintain their usual rotating schedule as teaching pastors for all services.
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