Perry Noble, founder and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, has been fired after 16 years. Elders of the Baptist megachurch cited alcohol abuse and the pastor's "posture toward his marriage" as concerning.
Executive Pastor Shane Duffey delivered the church leaders' official statement to the NewSpring congregation Sunday morning: "Through much prayer and with a heavy heart, we have important information to share with you regarding our pastor, Perry Noble. As of Friday, July 1, and in accordance with the governing bylaws, the directors and the pastoral advisory team have removed Perry as pastor of NewSpring Church. While this is the most difficult and painful decision we've had to make, unfortunately it was necessary. Perry's made some unfortunate choices and decisions that have caused us much concern.
"Over the course of several months, our executive pastors met with and discussed at length with Perry these concerns regarding his personal behavior and spiritual walk. Perry's posture toward his marriage, increased reliance on alcohol, and other behaviors were of continual concern. Due to this, the executive pastors confronted Perry and went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18. Because Perry chose not to properly address these issues and did not take the necessary steps toward correcting them, he is no longer qualified as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and the church bylaws to continue at NewSpring Church.
"We will continue to love Perry and his family during this difficult time, and we are committed to continue to pray for his healing, and we are also committed to continuing to provide personal support to Perry and his family in the days ahead. Though we know you may want more details to satisfy your curiosity, to do so would not be helpful to Perry or his family as they take these next steps. Our faith remains strong, rooted in the power and the promises of Jesus Christ, and the gospel gives us hope that Perry and his family can experience healing. The same gospel also gives us confidence that NewSpring Church will continue to make a difference in our state. In the coming weeks, we ask that you join us as a church family in continual prayer for Perry, his family and our church. We do believe the best is yet to come."
Duffey also delivered a statement Noble prepared for the church. In it, Noble said, "Hello NewSpring, I hope you had an amazing week and I know the service today is going to be awesome. However, I come to you with a heavy heart to let you know that effective July 1, I will no longer be the senior pastor of NewSpring church. I wish this were a joke or a part of a sermon illustration; however, it's true. I've often told you that NewSpring exists to help hurting, imperfect people. I have joked that you should not attend NewSpring if you are already perfect, because I will mess you up. That was my way of telling you I am traveling on a journey each day alongside each and every one of you to try and take my next step to become more like Jesus. If you've attended NewSpring for any length of time, you know I've never claimed to be the perfect pastor or even the perfect Christian. What we've seen the Lord do over the last 16 years has been a modern-day miracle.
"However, in my obsession to do everything possible to reach 100,000 and beyond, it has come at a personal cost in my own life and created a strain on my marriage. In my opinion, the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication. I've never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I've let myself slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol. This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part, as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others. I have no excuse. This was wrong and sinful, and I'm truly sorry. For those disappointed in me, let me assure you that no one is more disappointed in me than myself. I realize that I cannot continue to do effective ministry if this issue in my personal life is not adequately addressed.
"I plan to immediately seek the spiritual guidance of some amazing men and women of God in my life, and I am currently under the treatment of an excellent psychologist who is helping me take some major steps forward. Let me be very clear, neither Lucretia nor I have committed any sort of sexual sin. I have not stolen money. I have not been looking at porn. And there is absolutely no domestic abuse. This is the story, period. I simply need to address an issue that has gotten out of hand in my life.
"I receive this decision as from the Lord, as I trust the leadership of NewSpring Church, and I ask you join me in trusting them as well. I still believe NewSpring is the greatest church in the world. I still believe our children's ministry is going to provide Jesus on the level of the children who attend there. I still believe the next generation will be loved and invested in, and I know every Sunday in our church, lives will be changed as Jesus is exalted and the gospel is declared.
"As for me, I'm uncertain as to what my next step is. The one thing I know: I am going to put 100 percent of my time and effort into becoming the best father and husband I can become. I would ask that you pray for my family and me as we seek out what's next in our lives. I've preached that the best is yet to come for 16 years. I can't say it for you. I must receive it as well. I don't know what's around the corner, but I know Jesus isn't finished with me yet and He's not finished with NewSpring Church. I love you and always will. I'm really sorry and ask you to forgive me."
In recent weeks, Noble forfeited the pulpit to guest speakers Brad Cooper and Clayton King.
The South Carolina church reportedly held a closed-door meeting with their elders earlier this week. The church has multiple campuses throughout the state and averages 30,000 people each weekend.
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