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Billy Graham's Grandson Fired: 'I Take Full Responsibility'

03-18-2016

Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Winter Springs, Florida, has removed Tullian Tchividjian from ministry over "previously undisclosed failures," according to Religion News Service.

Tchividjian is a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham.

"In view of some recent disclosures of which we were previously unaware, we recently decided to end (his) employment," Willow Creek said. The church is unrelated to Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

"Repentance is progressive and often painful," Willow Creek wrote in a statement to Christianity Today. "It involves disclosing and dealing with the darkest places of our hearts and lives."

Meanwhile, Tchividjian told Christianity Today he intends to continue in his journey of repentance.

"Although, this has been extremely difficult for me to do, I remain committed to that painful and progressive process," Tchividjian said.

"Nothing grieves me more than the fact that people are suffering because of my sins, both in my past as well as in the present," Tchividjian said. "I want to be perfectly clear that I take full responsibility for this."

"Please pray for those who are most deeply affected and please respect their privacy," he continued. "God knows how sorry I am for all the damage I've caused and the people who have been hurt. Please pray that the good work God has begun will be carried out to completion."

The church's senior pastor, Kevin Labby, also announced that he and four other board members have resigned from the Liberate Network. Tchividjian founded that ministry in 2011; it focuses on "God's inexhaustible grace." Labby made the announcement to Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton

Liberate announced its relaunch last month. The ministry said Tchividjian's restoration process was "going remarkably well."

Prior to working at Willow Creek Presbyterian Church, Tchividjian was the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Coral Ridge's well-known first pastor was James Kennedy.

Tchividjian resigned from his position there last June after admitting to an affair and consequently losing his ministry credentials. He filed for divorce in August.

Willow Creek Presbyterian Church hired Tchividjian as the congregation's director of ministry development in September. According to Christianity Today, Tchividjian is described in Labby's profile as one of the "influential voices" in his life.

Labby told Throckmorton the position did not entail pastoral or teaching responsibilities. Labby referred to Tchividjian's "contrition" as one reason the church hired him.

Tchividjian wrote in early February on Facebook that he was doing better "spiritually, emotionally, and mentally than I have in probably years."

"God has increasingly been settling my heart and mind by meeting me in the deep places... exposing my idols and replacing them with a fresh assurance of His love and grace," he wrote.

"I could tell you a thousand stories of the ways God has sweetly met me very specifically in my darkest and most despairing moments, of which there have been many," he continued. "Through many of you, God has met my guilt with his grace, my mess with his mercy, my sin with his salvation."

Coral Ridge announced earlier this week that Rob Pacienza will fill the senior pastor position once held by Tchividjian.

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