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Church News

Demonstrators swarm church service to demand arrest of Robert Morris

by Lydia Davies

The Gateway Church's nine campuses across North Texas have faced a challenging week after allegations emerged that their founding pastor, Robert Morris, sexually assaulted a child in the 1980s.

Morris has since resigned from his position.

According to CBS Dallas, during a packed Saturday service at the Southlake campus, the congregation grappled with the news of the accusations against Morris, who allegedly began assaulting a young girl in 1982 when she was only 12 years old.

Tra Willbanks, a church elder, opened the service with heartfelt words for the church community. He said: "Like many of you, my wife and I are shocked, devastated, and grieving. I extend my deepest compassion to Cindy Clemishire... I'm so sorry for the burden you've carried."

The news outlet reported that outside the service on Saturday, protesters held up signs supporting Morris' accuser and called on the church to protect children. Some even got into heated exchanges with church members.

One protester, Lori Arnold, told the outlet: "When I heard that this pastor had gotten away with molesting a child and is now worth 100 million dollars and has people following him in this church, I felt like a voice needed to be heard for the voiceless.

"It would be nice to see Pastor Morris go to jail."

Morris has acknowledged "inappropriate sexual behavior" in a statement to The Christian Post.

The church's elders also disclosed that these allegations were initially brought forward 35 years ago, leading Morris to undergo two years of counseling.

Longtime church member Lou Comunale felt it was crucial to attend and listen to what church leadership had to say. He believes that by confronting the issue openly, the church can move forward with its focus on Jesus Christ.

He told the outlet: "There was a certain amount of shame that it brought to the church, but we went beyond that and we're not just looking to one man; we're looking to Jesus Christ, and this church is going to thrive because they fessed up."

The Gateway Church announced they have engaged an external law firm to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations against Morris.

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