Billy Graham's grandson quits Florida church after admitting 'moral failing'

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2015 12:02 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - A grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham resigned his post atop a prominent south Florida church after admitting to "moral failure," according to a statement from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

A statement on the church's website said that several days ago Tullian Tchividjian, 42, had acknowledged that "his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned – effective immediately."

The website did not specify what Tchividjian's "moral failure" was and church officials did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Tchividjian said his problems began after returning from a trip and learning his wife was having an affair. The couple later separated, according to the statement.

"Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself,” he said.

In another letter to the newspaper, Tchividjian’s wife Kim was less apologetic while asking for privacy and thanking supporters.

"The statement reflected my husband’s opinions but not my own," she said.

The Coral Ridge church, located near Fort Lauderdale, was founded by the late James Kennedy, a pioneering conservative Christian broadcaster who Tchividjian succeeded during a merger of two Florida churches in 2009.

In recent years a number of Florida mega-church pastors have resigned over moral issues including Bob Coy, formerly of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, a branch of the California ministry founded in 1965.

Coy, who like Tchividjian had admitted to a hard-partying past, resigned last year after also confessing to a "moral failing," the church said in an official statement.

Parishioners were later told he resigned because of adultery with multiple women and habitual viewing of pornography, according to local media reports.

Tchividjian's grandfather Billy Graham, who is 96 and in frail health, is known for his dynamic delivery of Christian gospel in America during seven decades in the pulpit.

(Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott)