Photo via Miami New Times

A church in Jacksonville, Florida is coming under fire for its controversial decision to ban children from its church services.

According to a local Jacksonville news affilate, Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church has banned children from attending Sunday services because their new pastor, Darrell Gilyard, is a registered sex offender and cannot have contact with children.

In 2009 Gilyard plead guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation of two underage girls. While he was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church Gilyard molested a 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another. Under the conditions of his plea agreement, Gilyard cannot have “unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old,” and his new church has taken extraordinary steps to help Gilyard stick to the terms of his deal.

Despite the seriousness of his offense, Gilyard’s return to the pulpit was swift. After being released from jail on December 28, he resumed preaching in January, and  told reporters he hopes he can move past this incident and continue with his work.

“Somehow I will prove that life isn’t over when one has committed a crime for which he receives this heinous label,” Gilyard told a reporter, ironically through text message. “You don’t have to languish on the fringes of society.”

While I believe in forgiveness, banning children from church in order to welcome a pedofile into the fold is not only creepy, but it’s downright shameful.

What do you think? What kind of message is Gilyard’s church sending to its youth?

  • Ellen Salmons

    We may not be under the mosaic law, however, churches require money. The buildings have to up keep that has to be done, bills have to be paid, churches that buy Sunday school material have to buy those things. Would it be great if churches got work and services free for a church, yes. However that’s not doable. Even if the bills were “covered” eventually someone would be paying somewhere for the power, water, heating/cooling cleaning supplies, etc. Also, how have they scared children into doing horrible things? A grown man is the one who screwed up. Has he been forgiven, yes. Should children, who are the Churches future and the ones Jesus said “bring unto me” be banned because of a mans lack of self control with a 15 year old.

  • albertenna gillespie

    oh so killing thousands to save one is ok ?

  • Edna Fordham

    I believe in the principle of restoration. It is at the core of the gospel. However, I think it is too soon for this Pastor to return to the pulpit. Also, if he wishes to continue in ministry, he might need to change his focus and minister to group of men with similar issues in a support group. He should be removed from pastoring a church or children. Walking in sexual purity is requirement for all ministers without further consideration for the type of sexual offense committed.

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