Darrell Gilyard was recently released from prison. He had completed his three year sentence for sex crimes against minors. He is now a registered sex offender in the state of Florida.
The minors were members of the church that Gilyard led as pastor. That is right. Darrell Gilyard was the pastor. These crimes were not the first and isolated times that Gilyard had sinned sexually while being a pastor and preacher. He was a serial sexual offender.
In his early days of preaching, I heard Gilyard. He was extremely talented when speaking. Yet his sexual life majorly collided with his preaching life. He followed a predictable pattern: He preached. He sinned sexually (either consensually or without consent). He moved to another church. He preached. He sinned sexually. In total, Gilyard resigned from five different churches due to his sexual sins. Finally he was convicted of criminal sexual activity.
This is not a rubber-necking issue for me. I, too, was a pastor who sinned sexually. Almost three years ago, I wrote about my sinful fall. It has been 15 years since I blew my life up. I have not returned to a pastoral ministry nor have I stepped into a pulpit to preach. I am not sure if I ever will.
So it concerns me when I see men who sin in this manner and so lightly regard the consequences of their actions. If a return is even possible (we can discuss that at a later time), wisdom would apply this principle that I am paraphrasing from something I once read.
Restoration to a preaching ministry can only occur when the man is known more for the grace in his life than for the sin he committed.
Back to Gilyard. Upon his release from prison, he did a newspaper interview. I am going to highlight some of the quotes from Gilyard that are problematic.
I’m happy to have that dark part of my life over.
The darkness for Gilyard may be over, but the shadows still linger. Those shadows can be dark enough to thwart the sunshine. Fifteen years later, I still have to peer through the shadows at times.
Legally, Gilyard is a newly registered sex offender. It does not get much darker than that.
He might have put the darkness behind him. But what of the girl who was 15 at the time he molested her? She is probably now about 20 years old. I seriously doubt that the darkness in her life is over.
In the interview, Gilyard was asked about the possibility that he might begin a new church as pastor. Here is his response,
I’m not sure–I’m just praying about my options right now.
I am not God, but I am fairly confident of what the answer to that prayer would be. Based on his subsequent actions, I don’t think Gilyard was really listening to God for an answer. He seems to pray like many of us. We have a desired outcome in mind. Say a prayer. See events that confirm our desire and call it an answer from God.
Continuing in this interview, Gilyard plays the trump card for all who jump back into the ministry after moral failure.
Moses was a murderer, David was a murderer, Paul was a murderer and Peter denied Christ. It’s clear God uses broken vessels.
To paraphrase Lloyd Benson, “I’ve read about Moses, David, Paul and Peter, and you and I are no Moses, David, Paul and Peter.” God does use broken vessels. But before he does, he reshapes them and rebuilds them. As I mentioned before, this reconstruction must be more evident than the destruction which preceded it. For Gilyard this is not the case.
But that has not stopped Gilyard. In less than two months after being released from prison, he was back to preaching at Christ Tabernacle Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
To avoid violating the terms of being a registered sex offender, the church had to make sure that no minors were in or around the worship service. That should have been enough to pull this escapade to a screeching halt. But it was not.
Gilyard preached. Afterwards he said,
It was refreshing and invigorating…I was scared to death.
I doubt that the woman he was accused of raping and fathering her child would feel the same way except for possibly the scared to death part.
A deacon in the church offered this rationale for hosting Gilyard in the pulpit,
He was down on the ground, and the church was down on the ground, and we both needed to get up.
–Paul S. Newman Sr.
What do you get when you place a down on the ground preacher with a down on the the ground church? Everybody is down on the ground. That is not really the best of reasons for choosing a preacher.
A trustee at the church offered her reasoning to the mix,
We are a group of Christians who are not afraid of controversy. He needs and wants to preach and we need somebody to minister to us spiritually–so why not him?
What Gilyard needs and wants should be the least of anybody’s concerns. Operating on his needs and wants is what put him in prison in the first place.
I would suggest that if this church can find nobody else to minister to them, then it is time to close up shop. Go find an existing church that can minister to them. Because this isn’t ministry.
“Why not him?” Let me count the ways.
I close this article with a quote from another deacon. It needs no reply since it is so clearly out in left field.
It’s the first time in my 70 years that I can say I saw a miracle happen.