Every family goes through hard times and that’s certainly been the case for our church over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago, we made the difficult announcement that our senior pastor, Gene Emerson, resigned in response to a recent court conviction where he was found guilty of soliciting a prostitute. Last week, we were made aware of additional evidence from his case, confirming that his actions were consistent with the verdict of the court.
Because we love Gene as our brother in Christ, our local eldership has initiated a process of redemptive discipline with him. Our church family is committed to doing everything we can to help our brother walk a path of repentance so he can experience the healing and restoring power of the gospel. We also recognize that sin in anyone’s life is by definition blinding, and we expect it will take time for Gene to come to terms with what has happened in his life.
Our hearts are grieving for our friend. We know many of you are equally saddened by the situation. In the midst of our sadness, we want to remind you of two things.
First, there’s no sin or weakness in Gene’s life that we can’t relate to as fellow sinners who stand in daily need of the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Because of that, no matter what continues to come to light about his actions, we are not going to shame him, avoid him, or look down on him. We are going to continue love him because we are convinced that God continues to love him and calls us to do the same. He who has been forgiven much loves much. May the Lord help us to be merciful because we have received mercy.
Second, we are committed to continuing to pray for Gene and his wife Liz. The road to recovery from sexual sin is a long process and it’s easier to lose heart and give up than it is to trust God keep choosing the path of humble honesty. We don’t pray for Gene because it’s the only thing we can do. We pray for Gene because it’s the best thing we can do. As Paul says in Phil 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s a promise from God to every one of his redeemed children, including Gene.
We don’t exist as a church to convince the world that we’re perfect. We exist as a church to convince the world that Jesus is a mighty Savior. We are convinced that Jesus has not stopped building his church, which means we are going to continue making disciples of Christ through gospel-centered worship, community, and missions, even as we learn in a deeper way what it means to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10).