Richardson minister quits amid sex charges
Staff Writer, The Dallas Morning News
Mr. Gilyard confirmed his resignation in a brief appearance Wednesday evening before the Victory congregation. "I offer you my resignation immediately without option,' Mr. Gilyard said, Bible in hand. "The only reason I stand before you now is because my love for this book supersedes my will.' Mr. Gilyard, 29, made no specific mention of the reasons for his resignation and could not be reached for further comment Thursday.
Longtime acquaintances and officials of the Southern Baptist Convention, however, confirmed that Mr. Gilyard was pressured to resign because of a growing number of complaints that he had behaved inappropriately toward women -- both in his own church and at least three other congregations.
According to church officials, counselors and several women involved, those complaints -- which began as long as four years ago -- range from suggestive late-night telephone calls to long-term sexual relationships with women he counseled.
A recent spate of allegations prompted an investigation this week by high-level Southern Baptist officials. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Criswell College and a longtime supporter of Mr. Gilyard, said the investigation resulted in an acknowledgment of wrongdoing by Mr. Gilyard. "He has confessed to several counts of adulterous relationships,' said Dr. Patterson. "And of course, at that point, there was no longer a question.' Dr. Patterson said he did not turn over information to poli ce - authorities about any of the complaints he investigated.
The Baptist official said he did not believe there was any conduct "substantially unlawful.' Mr. Gilyard has been described by several prominent evangelists as one of the nation's most gifted religious orators. As such, Mr. Gilyard, an African-American, was highly visible on the nation's predominantly white evangelical speaking circuit. Mr. Gilyard was a frequent guest on Mr. Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour, a weekly evangelical television program. Mr. Falwell did not return telephone m essages left Thursday by The Dallas Morning News. Those appearances gave Mr. Gilyard a nationwide following, securing his reputation as an evangelical star. That exposure to predominantly white fundamentalist audiences helped Mr. Gilyard's church, Victor y Baptist, become the first Southern Baptist congregation to attract a truly integrated membership. "He has unparalleled brilliance,' Dr. Patterson said. Dr. Patterson, who once taught Mr. Gilyard at Criswell College, had been one of the young minister's strongest promoters in Southern Baptist circles.
According to Dr. Patterson and other Baptist officials, Mr. Gilyard's behavior toward women had been a matter of periodic concern since his departure in 1987 from Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Cliff. At that time, according to several prominent Baptist officials, Mr. Gilyard was removed as assistant pastor when several female church members publicly accused him of making improper advances.
Subsequently, Mr. Gilyard spent a year as assistant pastor at a Norman, Okla., church. After his departure, according to officials at the church, several women alleged similar sexual improprieties.
By then, Mr. Gilyard had returned to Dallas to establish his own congregation in North Dallas, Harmony Baptist Church.
After Harmony's merger with another congregation, charges of sexual misconduct arose yet again, according to Baptist officials and several of the women involved. Mr. Gilyard left to form Victory Baptist. The allegations were unresolved.
Dr. Patterson said that after the Concord incident four years ago, he counseled Mr. Gilyard, who is married, to "avoid temptations' in his contact with women. Dr. Patterson said he advised Mr. Gilyard to avoid meeting alone with women and to avoid lengthy personal counseling sessions that might breed gossip. "The point is that you don't do it. You don't put yourself in that position,' Dr. Patterson said. Mr. Gilyard did not heed his advice, Dr. Patterson said.
Although he acknowledged that the various complaints against Mr. Gilyard were known to him, Dr. Patterson said he could not have acted upon them sooner. Although he investigated, very few of the earlier allegations could be substantiated, he said. He added that he believed that the complaints involved some culpability on the women's part. "I would repeat that he is not the only guilty party,' Dr. Patterson said.
"The downfall of a pastor ," Dallas Morning News, 7/14/91
"Pastor who quit in sex case speaks at new church, Dallas Morning News, 7/22/91