Tchividjian fired by Willow Creek over prior affair

Sunday, March 20, 2016
Michael F. Haverluck (

cross on church steepleThe grandson of iconic world evangelist Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian, has been fired by another church after confessing to another affair that he previously had.

The news broke on Thursday when Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida, explained that the 43-year-old pastor admitted he had an affair with another woman, which he had not previously mentioned.

“When we heard the disclosures he made just a few days ago, the session acted within hours to end his employment at the church," Willow Creek Church Senior Pastor Kevin Labby stated in an interview with The Christian Post. "The disclosures that he made involved the fact that he had a previously unconfessed inappropriate relationship with another woman.”

Tchividjian, who resigned from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church last summer after confessing to a prior extramarital affair, accepted a position at Willow Creek two months later in September. After he began at Willow Creek, the South Florida Presbytery took away his pastoral credentials and he filed divorce papers during his separation from his then wife, Kim. Details of the newly revealed previous affair were not discussed.

“He didn't share specifics with us,” Labby noted. “He said the person, that's worth saying … there were no specifics. The session did not feel that specifics were necessary for our purposes right now in making a decision about whether to keep him on staff — so they've terminated his position. But they have not distanced themselves from caring for Tullian and calling him to repentance."

Previously committed, newly revealed

Last summer, the former pastor explained the circumstances of his previous affair.

"As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair,” Tchividjian wrote in a statement he submitted to The Washington Post at the time. “Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself."

However, Labby attests that the former pastor’s latest confession contradicts the previous confession he made while at Coral Ridge last June. He maintains that Tchvidjian’s most recent admission indicates that his latest affair took place before he found out about the infidelity of his former wife, Kim.

Labby — who is now no longer a member of the board of the Liberate Network founded ty Tchividjian in 2011 — also noted that new rumors surfacing around Willow Creek led to the Tchvidjian’s latest confession, which he said took church elders by surprise and breached the trust they placed in him when he was hired.

"I don't have details on them, but it must be pretty strong rumors to prompt a disclosure like that," Labby added.
"The feeling of the elders was that Tullian had a long period of time to share that with the church, and for one reason or another, he elected not to. I can't really comment on what motivated him to not come out with that, but one thing that led him to come out with the confession was the knowledge that there were rumors swirling in Florida where he was previously ministering."

The senior pastor, who developed a friendship with Tchividjian over the past six months, stressed that Willow Creek could not let him continue to serve in any type of leadership role, given the nature of the concealment.

"The session felt that all that we were trying and attempting to do for Tullian had to be predicated on trust,” Labby informed. “And we understand confession comes over time, people build relationships, they gradually feel more comfortable. But the session was concerned that this was not shared with them and created a kind of faulty understanding in the situation and therefore compromised how we could minister to him. He is no longer an employee, but our desire to care for him continues. How he avails himself to that is just really his choice, but we would love to continue to walk with him."

Thanking Willow Creek for giving him the opportunity to serve beginning last fall, Tchividjian is now the grandfather of his oldest son’s newborn. After Willow Creek dismissed him, the church staff said they would help Tchividjian find new employment and expressed that they wanted him to make Willow Creek his home church.

Moving on, the fallen Christian leader said his latest confession is a work in progress.

"The process of repentance is progressive and painful,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post. “It involves ongoing confession, not just of what's going on in my life at the present but what's happened in my life in the past. The elders of Willow Creek asked me to continue to make Willow Creek my home church and have offered to help me find a job in the Orlando area.”

According to Tchividjian, he has no hard feelings whatsoever about Willow Creek’s decision to dismiss him — saying that he has a genuinely repentant heart.

“I am unbelievably grateful for these men and this church, and especially my pastor and dear friend, Kevin Labby,” he concluded. “These people have been nothing but helpful and supportive of my healing process since I arrived. They remain so today. I am praying earnestly about what God would have me to do and remain wholeheartedly committed to the painful process of ongoing repentance that God began last summer. I am so sorry for how my sinful and selfish choices have hurt so many, especially my family. I kindly ask you to pray that God would bring real healing across the board."


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