A Time to Mourn and a Time to Take a Hard Look at What’s Going on at Gateway.

Woman crying in church. cotonbro@pexels

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8  a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


The weekend service at Gateway deserves a close look. Yes, the elders’ statement and the rest of the service were fascinating. Here is the entire service so you can check it out for yourself. I assume that some Gateway folks will wish to comment. Stick to the topic, or your comment will not be approved.

The elder statement (starts at the 18:31 minute mark)

  • Tra Willbanks has been an elder since 2014. That means he never once questioned Morris’s self-reported history of having an immoral lifestyle before he became a Christian. Did he do his job? It is an elder’s responsibility to know the pastors well.
  • Never assume that Mr. Willbanks just “spoke from his heart” without having that heart vetted by an attorney. I believe that everything he said was looked over and approved by the attorney(s) that are paid for by the church. He carefully read his approved statement. Yes, churches have attorneys.
  • His presentation was well done, even down to the sniffles. I did not see the tears, but maybe they were present. As a veteran in the observation of Baptist pastors who can turn on the tears at a moment’s notice. I am seldom moved. It will take time for me to believe that this was simply the heartfelt confession of feelings by a father of six girls. Let me observe his tears and sorrow over time.
  • He was obviously and appropriately nervous.
  • They should have fired Morris and removed him from fellowship in the church until Morris had truly repented. You know the old meme, “You can’t quit because you’ve been fired.”
  • By the way, Morris hasn’t cared enough for his church to speak to them about his resignation. Is he in hiding?
  • What sort of church discipline will be applied to Morris? Do they do church discipline at Gateway?
  • I noted that nothing was said about what it means that Morris has resigned. Resigned from what, exactly? The pulpit? All of the extended ministries? Is he still getting a salary?
  • What infrastructure of Gateway does Robert Morris own. Folks, I suspect this will be like trying to separate the layers of an onion with the concomitant tears.
  • The Board of Elders has retained the law firm Haynes and Boone, LLP, to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry to understand the facts. It will take time to determine whether this law firm is here to protect the church since it is involved in crisis management and if that is to include the victim. Is this truly an independent party?
  • Willbanks is an elder.  He should have looked at the congregation and said the following before beginning: “This is a time of lamenting and mourning. This is not the time to clap or give standing ovations. It is a time of sorrow; we should be quiet and prayerful.” However, where would a service at Gateway be without the clapping and standing ovations? Lamenting is kind of a downer, isn’t it?

The rest of the service

Let me say that I was hoping, for once, that church leaders would have held a service of lament.

Why is lamenting important?
Lament is a model God gives us to deal with the bad stuff that happens in life. The Bible depicts many lamenters (think: Hannah, Job, David, Jeremiah and other prophets, and Jesus!) and even God laments through His prophets. It is normal to feel pain and to bring it to God. He wants us to seek Him in our pain. Feeling down is not a sin, nor does it indicate a lack of faith.

The Bible tells us there is a time to be happy as well as times to weep and mourn. These ‘times’ are out of proportion in our American culture that encourages us to only show the happy, not the weeping. Sometimes we focus so much on being happy people (especially on Sundays), that we try to skip over any sad or angry or grieving emotions we may feel. We don’t allow time to feel negative emotions.
Lamenting is how we trust God with our pain. It is how we trust God with others’ pain. Lamenting is deeply human.

The pastor’s message was “What to Do When the Unthinkable Happens.” He was greeted with clapping which seemed totally inappropriate for the moment. The pastor was Joakim Lundqvist, who was the scheduled speaker to fill in for Robert Morris. He is apparently well-known to the church. Once again, I wish he had asked the people to be quiet and thoughtful, but that is apparently not their thing. He did seem to enjoy the standing ovation, so I guess it’s expected.

His sermon revolved around the death and resurrection of Lazarus. The point seemed to be that Jesus appeared to take too long to come to his friend, and the friend died. Mary and Martha were hurting. Jesus had a special plan for that moment and He resurrected Lazarus. See how it all worked out?  Except that the example was flawed. Lazarus was a man who got sick and died. It wasn’t his fault. Sadly, at Gateway, Robert Morris had sex with a child and suddenly resigned, leaving his congregation bereft. This is not going to be one of those miracles.

Morris sinned against Cindy and committed a crime. He also sinned against all those who blindly trusted him, as he said he “walked in purity.” The problem is simple: He lied and he cannot be trusted to tell the truth any longer. Morris has not repented since he did not tell the truth.

This congregation has been left to drift in the wind while the elders get their act together. On my blog, I share things being said by people who followed Morris far more closely than they followed our Lord.

  • Cindy lied.
  • Cindy tempted Morris because she wanted to marry him.
  • Cindy must forgive because she will not go to heaven if she doesn’t.
  • Robert Morris is like King David and is forgiven. (Did Morris teach this nonsense?)
  • This all was Cindy’s parents’ fault.
  • Morris has repented and been restored.
  • This is all about costing Trump the election.
  • Cindy wants all of Morris’s money.
  • It was 35 years ago, so it doesn’t matter now.
  • I (Dee) am being used by Satan to destroy Gateway.

Sadly, I believe the congregation was slickly groomed by Morris to give him cover if the past caught up with him. Surely, the elders should have taken the reins from the fill-in and begun to teach people carefully how to lament. A service of lament, when done carefully, will not interfere with the crisis intervention people, does it?

This service reminded me of a losing coach’s talk to sports news reporters.

We’ll be back better than ever. Yeah, we lost our star player to a broken leg. But our team is closer than ever to winning it all. (The team stands up and cheers.)

This is not a sports team and there was a crime against a child committed by the star player who has disappeared. No one knows what they’re going to do. One thing they shouldn’t do is send in James Morris. He will be a reminder each and every time he gets up of his father, who manipulated things so his kids could take over the empire. He will also add to the number of those who are exiting the church in a hurry.

May God have mercy, and may the people learn to express grief (unless the lawyers don’t want them to.)


Comments

A Time to Mourn and a Time to Take a Hard Look at What’s Going on at Gateway. — 215 Comments

  1. Some of the elders and people will inevitably leave. They will leave out of conscience about the entire situation and for all intents and purposes this would signal a church “split”. I have seen this at my own churches a couple times and typically the people leaving I agree with about the matter at hand. After sticking around a few months I also left.

    However, the people that leave are often the very people that could lead the church through the “time of lament” which is certainly necessary. When good people believe they are in the minority, or if they are not given a voice, then evil wins. I am not sure how much of this is due to a lack of courage on the part of the people leaving, that could be part of it. Perhaps a lot of people are tired or too busy to rough it out. In my case I was already busy and I did not see it as my job. In hindsight, shame on me. I was just a member but perhaps I should have cared more and made the time.

    I agree with everything you are saying Dee. There are probably good people there and God can use them if they are tenacious enough and love their church family. Otherwise the politicians on the payroll win and they will be left with a smaller church of apathetic lackeys. I am only speaking from a couple of my life’s experiences and how they left me wiser.

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  2. Well said !!! Yes, lamenting is to show that we are sorry for hurting the heart of God. Davis said in Psalm 51, Against you O God have I sinned. The same is echoed by the parable of the wayward son who wanted to return back to his father after squandering all his money.Indeed This incident is a grim reminder for all us who profess our faith in Christ Jesus, to ensure that we live our lives in the light of God’s word and not be led astray by the glamour and praise that ministry brings.

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  3. While I do appreciate your role in bringing this entire situation to light and believe you were the hand of God in doing so, a portion of your post seems very cynically speculative, and without real fact to back up what your are stating (example “Never assume that Mr. Willbanks just “spoke from his heart” without having that heart vetted by an attorney. I believe that everything he said was looked over and approved by the attorney(s) that are paid for by the church. He carefully read his approved statement. Yes, churches have attorneys.”) I don’t believe this is helpful an hurts the victims of abuse rather than helps them. I would encourage not to do that and it just makes hurt people more cynical and quite possibly spreads mis-information. Maybe some of it will turn out to be true, but please wait until that is more firm.

    I certainly agree with your list of ridiculous things people said on your blog. I am sorry that folks see things that way. On the topic of how the service should have been run in your view, believe me, the entire week was full of lamenting and mourning by many in the church, and that continues.

    Do know that that many are in a wait-and-see state for more actual facts as opposed to guesswork. Yes, this site has provided some good and much needed facts, but also mixed in with too much speculation as previously mentioned.

    Former Shady Grove Church/Current Gateway Member.

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  4. While I agree with a lot of what you wrote, I keep seeing a lot of people saying they should’ve fired him. When done correctly, firing someone can take time.

    When a school teacher is caught in a relationship with a student they are placed administrative leave (still getting paid) while the incident is investigated. Most usually resign before getting fired.

    I believe this was handled the same way. If you fire an employee too quick, they could always come back and file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

    The real question is if the resignation was effective immediately and no additional pay.

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  5. D – Appreciate the time and effort, thoughtfulness you placed in the post.

    I was actually quite grieved regarding the video. The focus was on the pain, the hurt… and no doubt it is very real. I feel it deeply too, as someone who attended Shady Grove Church for fifteen years, and now have our adult son who has just vacated Gateway, because in good conscience, he cannot stay. (This week, he already joined in worship with a Baptist church in our city.)

    But at Gateway? There was no prayer of desolation, no mention of leadership asking for forgiveness for what they were unwilling to ask Robert for years. No prayer of desolation for the church, no crying out for God’s mercy on the church, and while speaking of brokenness, it is not repentance. I did not see individuals on bended knee, but business as usual. There was also no real mention of the crime – the tremendous level of sin inflicted upon a child. It seems not a time to “praise the Lord” as usual, but a time to weep, to mourn, and yes, to mourn the state of the church. Where, the gift of conscience? Our son has one.

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  6. I can’t know anyone’s heart, as a father of 6 girls I would believe that this would be upsetting to him, at least I hope so. Maybe he knew about what Morris had done but since it was with a young woman ( she was not) and it was a long time before he became an elder he thought it had been handled appropriately. The key to me would be if he knew she was twelve years old. Having an attorney go over what you are going to say is probably standard procedure. If I was going to be talking about a situation like this I would want an attorney to check it over, I don’t want to have to go to court for something I said and be liable. I wouldn’t let them write it for me or tell me what to say. I just hope that Morris senior will stay gone, that the victim gets help and Justice and that the church would heal.

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  7. Chuckp,

    Very good points. I commented earlier regarding why the elders are doing certain things. My comment was about accepting resignation vs firing. We ALL believe Cindy, but we have to keep in mind that Robert has the resources to hire lawyers as well, and could potentially go after people if facts are misrepresented.

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  8. What does lamentation look like?

    I would suggest that, at a minimum, Gateway members who want to see their church made whole should require that James Morris, lead pastor and heir apparent of the Morris empire, speak in person at that next scheduled worship service. No prerecord segment with hours of retakes, cuts, and edits that make it look like a big-budget feature film. During that talk, I would expect:
    1. James takes personal responsibility that nothing like what happened with Robert will happen during his tenure as leader.

    A pledge to seek repentance and reconciliation rings hollow when everyone in charge is able to avoid responsibility for their role in what happened.

    2. Announce that anyone under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with any entity related to the Morris family or the Gateway church will be released from those documents. The truth is lost forever when people are prevented from telling it under threat of legal action. Commit the Church, its leaders, or its staff to never again using NDAs to limit what people can or cannot say about them.

    A pledge to seek the truth rings hollow when the party in power can prevent those with less power from speaking.

    3. Announce that Gateway Church will be replacing Haynes and Boone, LLP, the law firm hired and paid for by the Morris family and the Gateway church elders, to limit their liability and manage this crisis. Haynes and Boone should be replaced with an organization such as  https://www.netgrace.org/, whose goal is to discover and root out abuse in Christian churches.

    A pledge to discover the truth rings hollow when the party in power hires a law firm whose primary goal is to limit their exposure and liability.

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  9. I attend a small church somewhat near to one of the Gateway campuses. We had multiple people visiting our church this past Sunday who were previously Gateway members. There is already an exodus, though how large of one remains to be seen.

    Our pastor addressed the issue briefly, and as part of his addressing of the situation explained to the church what sort of accountability structures we have in place and some steps that the church is taking to make sure that any allegations of impropriety can’t just be concealed by a few yes-men elders. My wife and I appreciated that.

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  10. Yes, Lament would have been humble and appropriate. I watched Gateway Houston’s Sunday service. This church is autonomous (they made that clear Sunday) and clarified that any advisory position Robert had has been removed. Robert’s son-in-law, Ethan Fisher, is the pastor. If you want to see humble lament…watch him speak. There was no cheering or clapping. Silence. I can only imagine what his children and grandchildren must be feeling. His son Josh turned down being Robert’s successor and went to Austin,Tx the year before COVID and started a new church “The Table” which did not make due to COVID.

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  11. Your perspective is a good one, Dee. One thing I noticed was that although Cindy was named, her age when the crime was committed was never mentioned, once again. How old are Tra Willbanks girls?

    I read an excellent analysis of sexual abuse, although not this particular case, on ACNAtoo, by an Anglican priest, Rob Sturdy. It contrasts the “theology of glory” with the “theology of the cross. https://www.acnatoo.org/acnatoo-blog/abuse-and-the-cross?rq=theology%20of%20the%20cross

    The “theology of glory” is all about blessing (Morris’ most popular book is “The Blessed Life”), victory, success, wealth, and power. Whereas the “theology of the cross” is all about suffering, loss, defeat, poverty, weakness, death; in other words about Jesus’ life as it actually was.

    Certainly, most American evangelical churches, and Pentecostal churches, especially the megachurches, are all about the “theology of glory,” and eschew completely the “theology of the cross.” In this they are more “American” than Christian, since the American ideal is about nothing if not money, winning, and success.

    These churches want resurrection without crucifixion. They want to celebrate Easter all the time, but completely skip Good Friday. And of course, there can be no true Easter if there is not a real Good Friday. (This is maybe a general problem with Protestantism as contrasted with Catholicism and Orthodoxy, which seem much more comfortable with death and thus honest about it: The Catholic crucifix or Orthodox icon showing the terribly suffering Jesus, as contrasted with the clean, often stylized, empty crosses of Protestant churches, or no cross at all in many Reformed churches.)

    My wife and I have attended Gateway occasionally, as “tourists” so to speak (I imagine a large part of their attendance most weeks are tourists like us, hence the pathetic Sunday attendance–by their standards–this past weekend. Not as much victorious, celebratory “entertainment” on offer last weekend for sure.)

    One thing we have always noticed is–unlike every plain, ordinary church–that there is never any public or pulpit acknowledgement of tragedies or loss, bankruptcy, death, disease, sickness. The latter are only mentioned if there has been an amazing “healing” or cure by the intervention of the church or pastors. “God gives the victory!” Cue standing ovation.

    I think all this “positivity” is creepy and positively dishonest. Real Christian life, and certainly human life, is nothing like that. And it is heretical, since it elides the suffering and death of Jesus–His suffering and death which we are invited to share–and the whole of the “theology of the cross.”

    I doubt that the spiritual DNA of churches like Gateway can be changed, since they have such a deficit of what a scholar once called “the tragic understanding of life.” They are now facing it for sure, the tragedy of their lauded, successful pastor revealed as the molester and rapist of a 12 year old girl, which he has never been honest about. Depths of sin unknown to such a rich, successful church, and innocence sacrificed for that success. I am very doubtful they can truly “lament and repent” and name Robert’s sin, “child rape and molestation,” and their own complicity in it.

    Given our origin story, Christians of all people should be well versed in tragedy, since our Savior is a “Man of Sorrows, well-aquatinted with grief.” Yes, He has won and will win the cosmic victory in the end. But only after the most unimaginable suffering and death.

    Thus now we grieve, although we grieve as a people with hope.

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  12. I would agree that James Morris should take steps similar to what were shared above. I don’t think he should be punished for the actions of his father, UNLESS he knew about them.

    He was selected to become the next senior pastor and there are NO allegations against him, so my hope is that James will be able to lead Gateway to be a healthy, Christ centred church.

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  13. Another local church near Gateway is preparing their staff and church to receive visitors and new members. This is a church with solid leadership and integrity already thinking of how to best care for and welcome , and what might need to be done for healing and for those hurt to feel safe and build trust again.

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  14. He was greeted with clapping which seemed totally inappropriate for the moment.

    A stage instead of a pulpit; applause and a standing O; scripture used in a way that seems to me to be meant to cause attendees to see Morris as a poor, hapless victim of circumstance ………

    Ugh. This is not a church, not a house of God. It is a feel-good entertainment auditorium that has lost it’s feel-good star …… with the rest of the actors trying to salvage the theater.

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  15. This was not the way God designed the church.

    If Gateway uses NDA’s will the full truth come out? Could there be other women or children?

    The challenge I see in the church today including here in DFW… too much entertainment, too much celebrity, not enough Word and Spirit. God wants his church back.

    Friend went to Gateway Frisco Sunday and said all the books for sale in the bookstore were gone. The money earning Robert Morris books are gone… his empire has fallen.

    If Pastor Robert cared about the flock entrusted him, we would hear from him. At least that would be the right thing to do. But in the world we live in, attorneys, fear, corporate structure… all limit that.

    Where are we to go from here? Where is the Word of God being preached in authority in the DFW metroplex? Where is the Holy Spirit allowed to move?

    If you know of a good WORD and SPIRIT church where the body is truly being disicipled, please let me know. Thank you. Sincerely, church girl, seriously grieved about the state of the American church

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  16. In my evening prayers yesterday, I read the line, “Guarda mi fe del enemigo.” “Protect my faith from the enemy.” Sometimes the enemy of our faith, the one who makes us doubt, is the pastor of our church. When you’re feeling shocked and betrayed, it’s not unreasonable to think, “I was wrong to trust the pastor. I was wrong to think the church cared about me. Maybe I’m wrong about everything.”

    It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in any human being.

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  17. Church is important. See Hebrews 10:25. We are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together, even more so as we see the day approaching. The Pastor is one of the 5-fold. It’s essential we have a pastor. Someone to shepherd and care for us. If we don’t have a pastor, we will be faint, like sheep without a shepherd.

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  18. As former employee/member MO @ Gateway is to beat you up with scripture and admonish/shun if you question. the ppl @Frisco campus explained the behavior well. There are wonderful ppl who attend/work @ Gateway and I miss them but my mental health became priority when gaslighting came for me and others. I retired and stopped going to church there.

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  19. I was young and now am old … I’ve been doing church in America for the better part of a century. I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly in the American church. The recent flurry of mega-pastors who have fallen has been a very ugly thing to behold indeed; the depth of their sin has been revealed before the world. We have seen the underbelly of celebrity worship, heard the heart-wrenching cries of countless victims, felt the pain of worshippers when trust has been betrayed, and seen the kingdoms of men crumble.

    The response by church leaders in all this mess heaped upon the church has ranged from a few tears to none at all … from calming the noise down a notch to keeping the beat going as usual. I have yet to see an elder stand before the congregation and do the right thing … to put the brakes on the routine, to call a SOLEMN ASSEMBLY … to turn off the entertainment, humble themselves, pray, repent of ‘their’ wicked ways, and seek God’s face. Are they not close enough to the heart of God to know what to do?

    Here’s what it supposed to look like:

    “Clothe yourselves with sackcloth and lament, cry out in grief … pray without ceasing … Consecrate a fast, proclaim a SOLEMN ASSEMBLY … Gather the elders to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord in penitent pleadings … For the judgment day of the Lord is at hand” (Joel 1)

    No loud music to stir the emotions, no jumping up and down, no special speakers, no prepared text to read, no standing ovations … just church leaders and congregation bowing before God, calling out to Him, weeping and praying as they ought, and staying there long enough until their cry reaches Heaven. Enough of the counterfeit, time for the genuine. Lamenting may be a downer, but it is necessary to get in step with God, to hear His voice, to know where to go from here.

    Will it happen at Gateway?

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  20. “Cindy tempted Morris”

    This is abhorrent: Cindy was 12 years old when this happened (not a “young lady”). Even if this were true, if you can fall into the temptation of child that is a really awful sin. Christianity (the practice of, not theologically) has a problem with pedophilia in church leadership and enabling child sex abuse.

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  21. As former member/employee MO @ Gateway is to beat you up with scripture then admonish/shun to submission. The ppl from Frisco explained it very well. There are many wonderful ppl who work/attend and I miss them. My mental health became more important so I left. There are more ‘leaders’ who share Roberts similar behavior. Pray for all victims and truth to be revealed.

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  22. George,

    “There are probably good people there and God can use them if they are tenacious enough and love their church family. Otherwise the politicians on the payroll win and they will be left with a smaller church of apathetic lackeys.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    politicians on the payroll…. the pastors and elders?

    how do they win in this situation?

    tenacious to love their church family… i’m sort of sick of the church family and pressure to love the church family.

    it means the org.

    so much pressure. being held hostage to it, on penalty of being accused of being cowardly, and many other horrible things stated, implied and inferred.

    as is see it through so much experience, loving the church family is code for keeping up appearances so there is good attendance & volunteerism –

    -so “i” have a club to go to that is enjoyable

    -so the pastors can have easier and more enjoyable jobs with job security

    -but mostly to keep the tithes keep coming in.

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  23. One thing to remember about many churches is that they rely on getting you hooked on drugs. No, not pot or meth or cocaine, but natural substances that have much the same effect. You come to church and get a strong hit of feel good juice in your brain, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. The service is carefully crafted to do so with the music, maybe lights or light shows, fog machines, carefully choreographed raised hands or jumping up and down or weeping or whatever. (Mix in some bad feeling juice with too loud music and too long standing so it feels soooo goooood when it stops.) After a few weeks you may need either a super long Sunday a.m. service for a bigger hit, or add in midweek hits. And they have you hooked, just like any pusher.

    One reason so many were so upset with covid closures is that they could not get their fix and were jonesing. I know several who commented that music “wasn’t the same” online and that made the whole service fall flat. Several more said they skipped the music and just listened to the sermon. Without the whole package, the sermon either fell flat, did not make sense, or worse yet they could see the lying and manipulation when they weren’t caught up in getting that rush.

    Its a good test for any church: fast the music for Lent. Our ELCA church used to do so. A church could take a month or month and a half any time and fast the music. Fast the special lighting, the lasers, the fog, etc. Simply gather in quiet and peace, pray, hear the sermon—really hear it.

    If it does not resonate without the joy juice, you are caught up in a drug addiction. If it still resonates or does so even more, you just might have found a church.

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  24. Cynthia W.: In my evening prayers yesterday, I read the line, “Guarda mi fe del enemigo.” “Protect my faith from the enemy.” Sometimes the enemy of our faith, the one who makes us doubt, is the pastor of our church.

    The Forgotten historical Archetype of Antichrist: THE SLICK DECEIVER.

    “For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”
    — some Rabbi from Tarsus

    The other Archetype (The Fanatic Persecutor) is still going strong.
    And often cited by The Slick Deceiver to keep the mutton taking his Mark for protection.

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  25. Church girl,

    “Someone to shepherd and care for us. If we don’t have a pastor, we will be faint, like sheep without a shepherd.”
    ++++++++++++

    total nonsense.

    no one needs a shepherd. we’re full-fledged responsible adults, here.

    your faith and spirituality are yours. not to be managed and controlled by someone else.

    hire someone to mow the lawn and prepare you taxes.

    not to manage and control your faith and spirituality.

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  26. lancelot lamar: These churches want resurrection without crucifixion. They want to celebrate Easter all the time, but completely skip Good Friday. And of course, there can be no true Easter if there is not a real Good Friday.

    As someone who’s tried his hand in imaginative fiction, this also holds for storytelling in general:
    A Hero needs a Strong Villain in order to truly be Heroic.
    (And the stronger the villain, the greater the Hero.)
    A victorious ending must be contrasted with a Deep Dark Valley on the way to that victory.
    (And in Horror, that Deep Dark Valley gets really Deep & Dark; the difference between Adventure and Horror is that in Horror, all hope (or next to all) is lost.)
    It is often the Dark and Strong emotions that put Power behind a narrative.
    (I have had three or four stories burst into my mind demanding to be written; all of them have been Dark; two involved Death. Including the one where I got my handle.)

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  27. lancelot lamar: One thing we have always noticed is–unlike every plain, ordinary church–that there is never any public or pulpit acknowledgement of tragedies or loss, bankruptcy, death, disease, sickness. The latter are only mentioned if there has been an amazing “healing” or cure by the intervention of the church or pastors. “God gives the victory!” Cue standing ovation.

    The Gospel according to Ren & Stimpy, specifically the episode “Stimpy’s Happy Helmet”:

    “HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!
    HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY JOY! JOY! JOY!”

    I think all this “positivity” is creepy and positively dishonest. Real Christian life, and certainly human life, is nothing like that. And it is heretical, since it elides the suffering and death of Jesus–His suffering and death which we are invited to share–and the whole of the “theology of the cross.”

    What happens when YOU are the one going through Suffering and Death (of any kind) when everyone around you is wearing the Stimpy Happy Helmet?

    “HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY! HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!…”

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  28. Dee, I want to thank you. God is dividing those who believe truth and those who don’t.

    We attended 18 years. We waited and waited and waited and waited for the congregation to be called to humble themselves, get on our knees and repent. We did this in our home, but never heard it from the pulpit. We were grieving long before we departed. I don’t believe lamenting or repenting was on the pulpit’s radar.

    The law firm that was hired, is to protect whoever is paying their bill. They are investigating how they can protect their client and the image of their client.

    The calloused and ignorant comments that you listed are an indicator of the congregation being manipulated and dumbed down. It is mind control. Was Bathsheba twelve years old? No, RM is NOT a King David.

    This is a time of repenting and lamenting, but a necessary time. It doesn’t look like it now, but it is a very good thing.

    If one is wondering if they should stay or go, they must ask themselves if they can serve under the same leadership because it is “all in the family.”

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  29. SMAC: Do know that that many are in a wait-and-see state for more actual facts as opposed to guesswork.

    And that is where The Spin Comes In:

    “A lie, repeated often enough, becomes TRUTH.”
    “Effective Propaganda consists of Simplification and Repetition.”
    “The most effective Propaganda convinces the target that he has come to the directed conclusion entirely on his own. Once he is so convinced, he becomes impossible to convince otherwise.”

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  30. Church girl: If we don’t have a pastor, we will be faint, like sheep without a shepherd.

    Too many pastors are wolves, as here. And as much as people like to use the shepherd/sheep analogy, humans are generally smarter than sheep. People need to take their time in choosing a church and not be pushed into worse because of some fear of not being under a shepherd.

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  31. Church girl,

    5-fold ministry? I had never heard that phrase, and Paul referred to himself as “ the last apostle”, so I looked it up. (Read several articles) We no longer have 5…… The true prophets and the apostles completed their missions some 2000 years ago. Those who call themselves apostles and prophets are very different from those in the Bible.

    . It’s essential we have a pastor. Someone to shepherd and care for us. If we don’t have a pastor, we will be faint, like sheep without a shepherd.
    Jesus is our Good Shepherd and our High Priest. Some of these modern, human pastors are wolves in sheeps’ clothing who will mislead us and take advantage of us. We must be like the Bereans.

    https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/what-is-the-five-fold-ministry.html

    [Irving] began teaching that “the five-fold ministry” of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers had disappeared from the church and was in need of restoration. According to Irving, the restoration of these ministries would usher in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on the earth. Irving and his followers began the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1832. Its chief purpose was to restore “the five-fold ministry” and usher in the Millennial Kingdom. The Church ordained twelve “apostles” who were to be the last days equivalent of the original Twelve whom Jesus appointed.

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  32. Church girl: Hebrews 10:25. We are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together, even more so as we see the day approaching.

    Considering the spiritual condition of much of the American church and its leadership (Gateway is but one example), Christians are caught in a tension between that verse and this one:

    ““Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins” (Revelation 18:4)

    Jesus knew what the church would look like as He foresaw “the day approaching.” Earlier in Revelation, He gave us a snapshot of the types of seven churches in the end-times … I believe, it is up to us to compare those Scriptures with the church we are in and decide accordingly.

    Abraham was told to “stay” … Abraham’s son Isaac was told to “leave” … Isaac’s son Jacob was told to “go back”. So what is this generation and our particular situation telling us?

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  33. Headless Unicorn Guy: [sarc] “And how many Souls have YOU Saved? Huh? Huh? Huh?” [/sarc]

    Exactly. It’s like they truly think they are indispensable to God. As if it isn’t God, Himself, doing any true saving, and as if he can’t raise up another servant (an obedient and righteous one) to replace them. I think of the words of Mordecai to Esther in 4:14. Or of the exiles. Humility is so undervalued in the church. Spiritual maturity overall seems to be. No discipleship nor depth of biblical knowledge and practices. God help us.

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  34. George: When good people believe they are in the minority, or if they are not given a voice, then evil wins.

    In 2023 I was looking forward to getting involved with ‘my’ church via volunteering. Through volunteering activities, I have experienced that Gateway operates as a large clique with insincere attitudes of gratitude against those they perceive they must tolerate. I left each event personally feeling I was helpful but they clearly didn’t want me. Never did anyone encourage me to come back or suggest other volunteer opportunities.

    For years I wondered why the Gateway logo was never (rarely?) seen helping those in need. No blankets for the cold, for kitchens for the hungry, no outreach for those suddenly down on their luck. On rare occasion, from the pulpit, there was mention of Gateway ‘partnering’ with small organizations to ‘help’ others which, to me, was a clear indication that Gateway was never about people but, rather, more concerned about protecting themselves should litigation ever be needed.

    I stayed because Gateway did provide an occasional motivational speech when I needed it. No one ever ‘intruded’ when I did show up for service.

    It’s glaringly obvious today – it’s been there all along – Gateway was never about people, never cared about people, or the community or even God’s teachings. They cared about themselves, their egos and self-enrichment.

    I’m very upset with myself for not recognizing the obvious and taking action by leaving long ago. I’m working to forgive myself – someday, hopefully.

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  35. Thank you for providing a space for us to discuss this. Even though we left Gateway late last year, we were there for 11 years. We were looking for a new church, but had always kept the idea of going back if we couldn’t find a better match for our family.

    There is a big difference between firing and resigning. Even though Morris will probably never have another church, he can still be in the background and receive money from Gateway and other churches because he resigned. I’m sure he knew this day might come and made a backup/backdoor plan.

    Gateway gets rid of pastors all the time. One day they are there and then you realize you haven’t seen a pastor. You look on the website and every mention of that pastor is gone from the staff, video content, YouTube content, etc. I remember one specific pastor had turned in his laptop for an update and repair and he was fired for having porn content (or website history). Why couldn’t he be “reformed and restored”? Other pastors have left due to disagreements with Morris and have now publicly stated the reason. I think that the ministry staff should be accountable. If they are going to be in ministry, they need to be publicly prepared to repent for transparency and modeling what to do. I think it would be a great way to show Christians out of shame.

    Thank you Dee for stating what I was feeling. I’ve seen some of these comments from my own friends who “love” Ps Morris. They feel like Satan is at work, when I feel that God is cleaning his churches and bringing things to light. I was married to a narcissistic man who said some of the same things he has said in his messages. I went through intense healing while at Gateway and then I couldn’t sit through his messages. Now I understand why. He was explaining what he did and told about how he sought out women with low self esteem and got very good at knowing what to look for. Maybe that was when he was a minor or an adult with girls his age, but that implies he targeted other women as well.

    I believe Cindy 100%. When you are a victim, they make you think that you are to blame. It takes a long time in therapy to understand that you were abused. I hope this helps explain to everyone wondering why now. Cindy should have been put into therapy as soon as she told her parents. She is not to blame in any way and was victimized again by going through life thinking she was.

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  36. AF:
    Beverly,

    I question if James Morris is a strong enough leader for such a large church.In addition, who is going to be directing James’ decisions but Robert Morris.It might be best to break from the whole Morris family and start anew.

    Whether or not the son knew of abuse is not the issue to me.
    James grew up in at least a somewhat dysfunctional home with secrets being kept.
    James grew up immersed in his father’s ideology and theology.
    James grew up learning how the organization (oops I meant church!) is run.
    James has attended this church since it started (with a few breaks for college, etc). What is familiar is comfortable.

    I am not saying he is a bad person! I think that because of who he is, he is NOT the person to take over and make lasting or effective changes.

    People don’t need Gateway version 2. They need Gateway to Godly Living.

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  37. Max: Abraham was told to “stay” … Abraham’s son Isaac was told to “leave” … Isaac’s son Jacob was told to “go back”. So what is this generation and our particular situation telling us?

    “NUKE THE WHOLE PLACE FROM ORBIT – IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO BE SURE.”
    Aliens

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  38. YOY,

    “I am not saying he is a bad person! I think that because of who he is, he is NOT the person to take over and make lasting or effective changes.

    People don’t need Gateway version 2. They need Gateway to Godly Living.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    i imagine Robert Morris and the Morris Family own it all, every asset.

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  39. Eric:
    While I agree with a lot of what you wrote, I keep seeing a lot of people saying they should’ve fired him.When done correctly, firing someone can take time.

    When a school teacher is caught in a relationship with a student they are placed administrative leave (still getting paid) while the incident is investigated. Most usually resign before getting fired.

    I believe this was handled the same way. If you fire an employee too quick, they could always come back and file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

    The real question is if the resignation was effective immediately and no additional pay.

    Texas is an at-will state. Employers can fire employees for any reason, at any time. There would have been no mandate for an investigation. He could have been fired immediately.
    Teachers have unions, so it’s an apples vs. oranges discussion.

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  40. Cynthia W.: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in any human being.

    That’s what He has been telling us all along! But human nature being what it is, we want our own king … a “mega” king is even better! In the meantime, God sits back and wonders why we choose what we choose when all Heaven stands ready to appropriate to us what we need ‘if’ we would focus only on Jesus and, as you note, take refuge in Him.

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  41. Church girl: Where are we to go from here? Where is the Word of God being preached in authority in the DFW metroplex? Where is the Holy Spirit allowed to move?

    Good luck. What you are describing is a rare & endangered species, a needle in a haystack, a precious treasure buried in a field. If you were to lift the Holy Spirit out of most churches, 95% of the stuff would still go on. Doing church without God has become so comfortable, we don’t even look for Him any longer.

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  42. lancelot lamar: These churches want resurrection without crucifixion.

    “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” (Gen. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army)

    A prophecy fulfilled by the 21st century church in America.

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  43. Thank you for this post. I have made a decision to leave Gateway. I was there on Saturday to hear from the elders. I was sick to my stomach over the clapping, cheering, standing ovations and fanning. We should have been in mourning for the lives that have been ruined over this. It should have been somber and contemplative. Sin has consequences and I think we are seeing that all unfold. I only want to be a fan-girl of God, so my time at Gateway is finished.

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  44. “What infrastructure of Gateway does Robert Morris own. Folks, I suspect this will be like trying to separate the layers of an onion with the concomitant tears.” – Dee

    There is an IRS complaint reporting process for tax-exempt entities:
    https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/irs-complaint-process-tax-exempt-organizations

    Any ideas on the content for a complaint that would get the IRSs attention, that would cause them to consider an investigation? The personal wealth of Morris and tremendous amount of donations that Gateway has received over the years is alone enough for me.

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  45. I went to Gateway 2005 to 2007. There was always something off about RM. His Jake’s Motel sermon was particularly disturbing. He talked about his predatory behavior toward “young women”. I wonder how many more will come forward. I expected him to go down during #metoo but that never happened. At least the wheels are turning now.
    We left the church because of his BS Blessed Life nonsense. He scared the congregation to death that calamity would befall them if they were not tithing. Most of his flock has been manipulated into drinking the kool aid. One Sunday he made the comment “don’t expect to ever get an appointment to speak to me. I am the shepherd, I don’t have time to speak to you. I speak to God.” He is not a shepherd or a pastor. He is a charlatan. He is not King David and never will be. Everyone should stop making excuses for this pathetic soul and see him for what he is. A predator who left the country when things got too hot. They all knew! Let’s save the teary eyed speeches. I went to drama school, I can turn that on and off too. It’s no accident that they picked a guy with six, count ‘em six daughters. It’s all about stage management at Gateway.

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  46. I am a CPA and a couple of years ago filed a complaint against a ministry that is masquerading as a church auxiliary and thus avoiding the Form 990 requirements. I received a generic response from the IRS but nothing apparently came of it. The IRS is woefully underfunded and understaffed.

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  47. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Church girl,

    Church girl:
    Church is important.See Hebrews 10:25.We are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together, even more so as we see the day approaching.The Pastor is one of the 5-fold.It’s essential we have a pastor.Someone to shepherd and care for us. If we don’t have a pastor, we will be faint, like sheep without a shepherd.

    Jesus is my Shepherd. John 10. I go to church but not an authoritarian power over others one. I consider all people my equals.

    I think most church attenders would benefit from reading Patricia Evans books (Verbal Abuse – where power over dynamics are explained and psychological abuse is addressed – and her book Controlling People which for any authoritarian types is not a how to manual.) In Sheep’s Clothing by George Simon is also good. Many of us church goers are trusting types and ripe targets for manipulators. It would serve us well to learn ways to guard our hearts and to spot the wolves among us. I also recommend reading the whole Bible. I will put the app on and listen to several chapters as I’m getting ready in the morning in addition to my reading time. Life has taught me a lot of hard won lessons. And one is that churches attract wolves. We need to feast on solid food to prepare for the times and for kingdom work, not just settle for being spoon fed on Sunday mornings with inch deep motivational talks.

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  48. Having considered all of the available evidence (one piece of which is a book that RM wrote, “The Blessed Church” (hereinafter, TBC), which is a manual on church government based on how Gateway operates), I do not believe that Tra Willbanks is responsible for any coverup.

    I believe there are two elders who are responsible: Tom Lane and Steve Dulin. (There may be a third elder, Gayland Lawshe, who may have had a role in this, and I will explain shortly, but there is only scant circumstantial evidence to tie him to anything.) It is my view, as I shall explain, that they set up a system to keep the other elders “in the dark” about RM’s past.

    In TBC, RM mentions that Lane was brought on board as Executive Pastor (essentially, #2 behind RM). He was brought on after Gateway’s founding; RM doesn’t say when this took place, but it had to have been before 2005 since Lane was involved in the matters surrounding Cindy’s first letter and her request for renumeration, and the rejected counteroffer with the NDA requirement. We also know that he was involved in the 2007 letter from Cindy, as well as the 2009 letter from Andrea to the elders (since, on the latter, he and David Smith – who’s role at Gateway I do not know as he is not shown being part of the leadership team – spoke with Andrea and her husband and gave them the impression that this was a “recurring issue which has been settled”).

    As both Executive Pastor and a staff elder, Lane is in the perfect position to protect RM. As one of the elders, he would have an audience with the other elders, and could convince them to make him the point of contact should any of them receive communication that RM had acted inappropriately. As Executive Pastor, he can set up protocol to direct Gateway employees that if any of them get similar communications about RM, they are to forward them to him. He can then “investigate the matter” and do whatever is needed to hush it up.

    Steve Dulin comes into play as well. On Gateway’s website Dulin is listed as a “founding elder”; thus, he’s been with RM from the beginning. In The Blessed Life, RM tells Dulin’s story of how he continually increased his giving % and was blessed as a result (though he doesn’t mention him by name), in his follow-up book Beyond Blessed RM reveals Dulin as the person he mentioned previously. In TBC Dulin is noted as having a special role: he is one of two elders (Lawshe the other) who are specifically assigned to check on RM personally and make sure he is able to do his duties. Finally, Dulin was to be the elder who spoke with Andrea and her husband regarding the 2009 letter (but didn’t due to Andrea’s husband being sick).

    In his assigned role, Dulin could go to RM and ask about any rumors, and then (either with Lane or separately) also participate in a hush-up.

    As such, they’re able to tell whoever asks, whatever story needs to be told.
    To another elder: “it’s that same woman who’s been trying to ruin RM and Gateway since 2005”
    To a “concerned member”: “that’s an old issue which the elders settled years ago, she just doesn’t want to forgive”

    It is very easy in such a system to keep other elders – especially non-staff elders like Tra, who spend the majority of their time concentrating on their employment – in the dark as to what is really going on.

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  49. Sandie: Gateway gets rid of pastors all the time. One day they are there and then you realize you haven’t seen a pastor.

    glad you said this. i thought the same thing. It is because of this + related blogs that i found out what happened to David Smith.

    I wondered what happened for years. That mug shot of him was absolutely pathetic.

    Reminds me of this:
    Paul warned against keeping the man who slept with his step mother and bragged about it. “Hand him over to Satan” meaning excommunicate him. Do not let him be a part of the social fellowship of the church!

    BUT. then in 2 Corinthians Paul tells them the punishment inflicted by the majority is sufficient. Go to him.

    “Reaffirm your love for him so that he will not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. ”

    My guess is that an ostracized, lonely David Smith went to drown his sorrows in alcohol.

    When we purge a sinner from fellowship and care not a whit for his well being then after, the landscape becomes filled with broken souls who die of loneliness while the congregation grows increasingly smug.

    Im not talking about restoring people into ministry positions. i am saying that a permanent social freeze out is not what Paul prescribed.

    Read these to get the picture.
    I Corinthians 5:1-13
    II Corinthians 2:1-11

    “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient.

    “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

    “I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”
    ‭‭
    2 Corinthians‬ ‭2‬:‭6‬-‭8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    https://bible.com/bible/111/2co.2.7.NIV

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  50. Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    My Word-of-Faith neighbor wrote an entire “devotion” comparing fallen pastors to King David. I kid you not. I think this must be a common trope.

    You mean the King David whose daughter was raped by her own brother, who had another son murder said rapist and then rebel against his father’s authority, and whose kingdom split only two generations later?

    Interesting example for your neighbor to choose…

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  51. Transparency and honesty is seldom heard anymore when a church “organization” is pushed back into a corner and people are demanding an explanation. I would have loved to see all of the elders or church council (although I have no idea how many Gateway has) pull up chairs on their platform and answer questions for 2 or three hours until all of the questions could be asked.

    But that just won’t happen any more these days. Churches start out with a shining glimmer of hope and the true desire to see the flame of God ignite and people be transformed by truth. Then it becomes and organization and leaders need to be protected from any form of accountability to the little people (the sheep) who are suddenly realizing something just isn’t right and want to know why.

    The leadership circles the wagons and the little people are often sacrificed and sent away into outer darkness and the congregation is warned that if they do not want to be cast into outer darkness like those people they better mind their P’s and Q’s. The machine continues on and Jesus follows after the scapegoat families as they wander off down the road wondering what they will do and where they will go.

    Pastor Robert owes the congregation the whole truth and if he does not give everyone that transparent truth then all the parishioners should know that the organization truly does not care about them enough to bring the light out into the open. Robert Morris is most likely done for the rest of his life in regards to ever standing behind a pulpit. He needs to do it one last time, for the victim that he deeply damaged and all the people he has pastored who are horrified that the man they trusted could is and could possibly still be a child molester.

    Will he do the right thing? Will Gateway force this to happen regardless of lawyers and bla bla bla….

    Get the whole thing off your chest Robert and out in the open so it can be judged, condemned for the most terrible thing it was…and then maybe forgiven. But never forgotten, never swept under the rug.

    “Let us confess our sins one to another that we may be healed”

    Everyone in this situation needs to be healed from this and Pastor Robert needs to live a life that does not include ever being behind a pulpit again. If the father of the 12 year old girl would have went to the Police back when it was found out, Robert’s only option for a future ministry would have been a prison ministry….from inside the prison while he was incarcerated for 25 years.

    Let the light shine for everyone’s sake!

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  52. George,

    Gateway is a repeating similar pattern similar to the shenanigans of Willow Creek, Mars Hill, Harvest, and recently IHOP. The inner group who is in charged try to control every talking points. There were no open and honest discussion. Good people (those who really care) has no option but to leave.

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  53. Hobbs: Elaine, that group would cheer a dumpster fire. They are a sad, misguided flock of sheep. They’ve been manipulated and don’t even know it.

    According to famous PR Spinmeister Josef Goebbels, the best Propaganda mamipulates the target while convincing them that they came up with it all on their own. At which point the Propaganda line becomes part of their identity and being and locks in permanently.

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  54. Elaine:
    Thank you for this post. I have made a decision to leave Gateway. I was there on Saturday to hear from the elders. I was sick to my stomach over the clapping, cheering, standing ovations and fanning.We should have been in mourning for the lives that have been ruined over this.It should have been somber and contemplative.Sin has consequences and I think we are seeing that all unfold.I only want to be a fan-girl of God, so my time at Gateway is finished.

    God bless you Elaine. May the Holy Spirit guide you as you make this change in your life. I believe many are comfortable and that is what will keep them there.

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  55. Time to request my tithe money back. If I understand correctly it comes with a money back guarantee. RM himself said it. Members should line up in Southlake and request their money back.

    When my father in law was dying I asked Gateway if they could help fund our emergency airfare to get our family to him before he passed. I thought it was reasonable since they are “all about people.” The office called and told me my request was denied but they would be happy to send flowers when he died. That was the end of Gateway for me. Never set foot in there again.

    I’d be first in line to get my money back if that were a real thing.

    BTW we did get there before he passed thanks to the kindness of some non-Gateway “Christians”.

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  56. HR1942: When my father in law was dying I asked Gateway if they could help fund our emergency airfare to get our family to him before he passed. I thought it was reasonable since they are “all about people.” The office called and told me my request was denied but they would be happy to send flowers when he died.

    “Whoever has adequate resources, and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him?” (1 John 3:17)

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  57. Hobbs: One Sunday he made the comment “don’t expect to ever get an appointment to speak to me.

    For the real pastors I know, making time for members of the congregation who need someone to give them advice, to comfort them, to pray with them, to weep and grieve with them, is often a more important part of their week than sermon prep and the sermon itself.

    Anybody who has no time for the *people* is not a pastor.

    OTOH, maybe people, especially women, can consider themselves lucky they didn’t get RM’s special type of “counseling”.

    RM is and has probably always been a “motivational speaker” with a more than usually captive audience that was more than usually easy to guilt into forking over their money.

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  58. Sore-Sweet Dayes,

    And what I think is so pathetic, Gateway posts yesterday from their weekend message about families coming together. They start getting commenta, some in support, some calling the church out wanting accountability and transparency, questioning the elders and what they knew. Within 30 minutes, commenting ability is turned off. So now the members who have titled, given, attended can’t even comment? Give me a break. Can’t handle the heat, Gateway?
    Beyond pathetic.
    Why can’t concerned members comment on their thoughts of the church service after a major scandal breaks? Oh bc then you might have to address a few things and do you duty as a pastor. The church has forgotten a pastor is there to pastor people through these comments, concerns, etc. But if a member can’t even comment, how can they express their concern?

    This isn’t a communist ran mafia. This is the church. Open up the commenting!!!

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  59. Where to even begin. The mentality of the pedophile-apologists is truly repulsive and disgusting.

    Anyone attacking a victim of pedophilia in order to minimize and/or excuse the crimes of the pedophile, needs to recalibrate their moral compass.

    “Cindy lied.”

    This accusation absolutely boils my blood. There is no evidence that she is lying. Everything indicates that she is telling the truth. When more victims of Morris inevitably come forward, will his loathsome defenders accuse them of lying, too?

    “Cindy tempted Morris because she wanted to marry him.”

    This mentality also boils my blood. Anyone suggesting that a 12 year old girl “tempted” an adult man, is likely to be a pedophile themselves. No decent sort of person thinks this way. The people claiming that 12 year-old Cindy “tempted” the adult Morris, are truly vile individuals. It’s victim-blaming at its worst. 12 year-olds aren’t thinking about marriage, nor are they interested in tempting adult men.

    “Cindy must forgive because she will not go to heaven if she doesn’t.”

    Firstly, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is guaranteed eternal life in Heaven.

    Secondly, threatening victims with damnation is a typical gaslighting tactic used by pedophile clergymen and their enablers. It reminds me of that Catholic Cardinal who told the victims of a pedophile priest that if they told anyone about what happened, they (the victims) would go to hell. Sorry, creepy Robert Morris fans. You don’t get to decide who goes to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ gets to decide that, and Jesus says that everyone who believes in Him will go to Heaven.

    Thirdly, forgiveness doesn’t equal no consequences. Even if Cindy forgives Robert Morris, Robert Morris still needs to face the consequences for his actions, preferably in a court of law.

    Fourthly, there doesn’t appear to be much evidence of Morris’ repentance. What does Jesus say about those who harm children? Think about THAT, Robert Morris fans.

    Of course Morris, like anyone else who sins, will be forgiven by Jesus IF Morris is truly sorry. But that doesn’t mean that Morris won’t have to face the earthly consequences of his actions, starting with being removed from ministry.

    Do the Morris fans think that Morris should simply be able to move past this and continue as the leader of Gateway despite being a known pedophile? What planet are they living on? Are they completely out of touch with reality?

    “Robert Morris is like King David and is forgiven.”

    Robert Morris is nothing like King David. It’s also worth noting that King David was severely punished for what he did to Bathsheba (and Uriah). King David was sincerely sorry and full of genuine repentance for his crimes.

    “(Did Morris teach this nonsense?)”

    Probably. The corrupt greedy megachurches teach all sorts of heresies and idolatrous nonsense. Steven Furtick and his Elevation Church comes to mind.

    “This all was Cindy’s parents’ fault.”

    How?

    “Morris has repented and been restored.”

    I don’t see much evidence of repentance from Morris. Has he even released a statement taking responsibility for his actions and acknowledging the harm he did to Cindy and apologizing to her for it? Has Debbie apologized for her gaslighting of Cindy, when she tried to make Cindy feel guilty for being the victim of her pedophile husband?

    Also, restored by whom? I don’t see any evidence that Jesus restored Morris to ministry.

    As mentioned above, Jesus gets very angry when people harm children.

    While a sin can be forgiven, that doesn’t mean the sinner gets to return to church leadership as if nothing has happened. If Morris was truly sorry, he would realize that it is inappropriate for him to return to ministry. If he was really full of repentance for his actions, he wouldn’t WANT to return to ministry as if nothing had happened.

    “This is all about costing Trump the election.”

    Who cares?

    There’s no evidence whatsoever that Cindy is trying to damage Trump’s election campaign. Not everything in life is about Trump. Cindy probably doesn’t even care about Trump or about damaging his election prospects. But even if that WERE her motivation, it’s irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether the allegations are true or not, and all the evidence indicates that Cindy is telling the truth.

    The same applies to the allegations against Trump. Even if his accusers are motivated by a desire to damage Trump’s political career, that’s irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether the allegations are true.

    “Cindy wants all of Morris’s money.”

    She deserves all of his money.

    “It was 35 years ago, so it doesn’t matter now.”

    Spoken by someone who has never been sexually abused.

    Generally the people who have this “it happened a long time ago” mentality tend to be misogynistic, disrespectful towards women (and children), and dismissive of sexual assault. They are the sort of people who think that groping women isn’t a big deal. A totally disgusting and abhorrent mentality.

    Cindy has to live with the emotional, psychological, mental, sexual, and spiritual harm that Morris inflicted on her, for the rest of her life.

    For Cindy, it didn’t “happen a long time ago.” It happens every time she has a flashback or memory of being raped and sexually assaulted, which is probably multiple times each day.

    “I (Dee) am being used by satan to destroy Gateway.”

    This is a common tactic that is used by the corrupt and greedy megachurch leaders against anyone who exposes their misdeeds. It’s projection: accusing others of what they themselves are doing.

    If anyone is being used by satan, it’s the self-promoting, ambitious, evil charlatans such as Robert Morris, who in addition to being a pedophile, also goes around trying to manipulate Christians by idolatrously and falsely telling them that God will send them to hell if they don’t support a certain country in the Middle East.

    As for destroying Gateway, it’s obvious that Robert Morris and his coterie of sycophantic elders did a great job of that themselves, without any help from Dee.

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  60. Mark R: “that’s an old issue which the elders settled years ago, she just doesn’t want to forgive”

    An allegation of pedophilia and rape isn’t an issue for the elders of a church to solve.

    It’s an issue for law enforcement.

    If any of the elders knew how old Cindy was and didn’t report Morris to the police, those elders are complicit.

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  61. Elaine:
    I only want to be a fan-girl of God, so my time at Gateway is finished.

    God bless you, Elaine! That is the right attitude to have!

    I pray that Jesus will lead you to a wonderful new church home where you feel welcomed and cared for like family!

    This is just my opinion, but if I could make a suggestion, you might feel more at home and more cared about and loved at a smaller church, instead of a megachurch that feels like a city where you don’t even know most of the thousands of members.

    To be sure, smaller churches are not immune from scandals or problems, but at least you get to personally know the members, so it feels more welcoming and friendly.

    That is just my experience and my opinion though. I just thought I’d share it in case it is helpful as you look for a new church to join.

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  62. Then it becomes and organization and leaders need to be protected from any form of accountability to the little people (the sheep) who are suddenly realizing something just isn’t right and want to know why.

    I would venture to say that many of these megas, and some of the smaller to mid-sized churches, are in actuality, businesses. Some of these megas come with seven or eight figure salaries for their “CEOs”. Tax free!

    The last church I was a member of started out with the promise that they would be helping the surrounding community as much as possible. They did have a very active food pantry, but as the church got bigger and bigger, and more well known, the community outreach seemed to drop in corrolation. The staff salaries got bigger, until they stopped sharing how much salaries were and along with hiding other financial data. Everything became about volunteering on Sunday morning and drawing more people to the church instead of the church moving outward toward the community.

    I’m starting to believe maybe the ones that act like businesses should be taxed, but there are smarter minds than me that would have to figure out how to determine that. It’s not just Christian churches that do this either. Religion is a big money industry in the US, and as a country, I don’t think we’ve been really honest about that.

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  63. Gateway is more of a business than a church, hence the livestream to other campuses, multiple services, short services, inability to voice your opinion, lack of transparency, etc. When was the last time Gateway had an altar call? What about a time of repentance at the altar? Are the gifts of the spirit flowing there? Is a pastor allowed to divert and switch up the flow of the service if Holy Spirit says so? Are the congregants being discipled? Do they know how to receive healing, walk in victory, witness and pray for others, share truths from the Bible? Do they preach the finished work of the cross and everything we have and can do because of Jesus’ victory at Calvary? Are people being transformed or merely entertained? Are the congregants walking by faith in the Word of God or do they not even know what that means? Remember, just because it has flashy lights, doesn’t mean God is in it.

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  64. Those who blindly and vocally give support to Gateway and Pastor Robert Morris, believing they’ve been persecuted by Satan or not forgiven for repentant sins from “35 years ago” or other ridiculous comments made, should know a salient fact. “Nobody can intentionally abuse a 12-year-old child for five years (statutory rape) and not expect a trail of evidentiary data to be released of a “concerted cover-up” that, when revealed, will make any situation worse than it already is.” There’s wisdom in lamentation while in darkness and great folly in celebration while the lights are not yet turned on.

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  65. Church girl: When was the last time Gateway had an altar call? What about a time of repentance at the altar? … Do they preach the finished work of the cross and everything we have and can do because of Jesus’ victory at Calvary? Are people being transformed or merely entertained?

    If this is not happening at Gateway, then the congregation are hearing another gospel which is not ‘the’ Gospel at all.

    “Do not be conformed to this world any longer with its superficial values and customs, but be transformed and progressively changed as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind, focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes, so that you may prove for yourselves what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect in His plan and purpose for you.: (Romans 12:2 AMP)

    Do celebrity pastors and church as entertainment work together to transform you to God’s plan or conform you to their purpose?

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  66. Max,

    The part that strikes me is “be transformed ad progressively changed”.

    These days, that phrase from Romans is more honored in the breach than in the observance.

    You mean there’s actually a learning and growth process?
    You don’t instantly become Spiritually Perfect (with none of your baggage left) when you walk the aisle and get Zapped like on the Damascus Road?

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  67. Muff Potter:
    Places like Gateway really do give credence to Marx’s observation that religion is the opium of the people.

    Especially when you find out that in context Marx’s observation was actually sympathetic — more in the sense that the people had been so beaten down that religion was the only hope and comfort they had left. Because they sure weren’t getting any in the here and now.

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  68. Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Max,

    The part that strikes me is “be transformed ad progressively changed”.

    These days, that phrase from Romans is more honored in the breach than in the observance.

    You mean there’s actually a learning and growth process?
    You don’t instantly become Spiritually Perfect (with none of your baggage left) when you walk the aisle and get Zapped like on the Damascus Road?

    But you see that is hard, grueling, and time consuming. And of course, in our instant gratification society, we want to get Zapped (just like our coffee in the microwave) and our Sanctification done as quickly as getting our food in the drive-thru. Never mind what some rabbi from Tarsus said about comparing the Christian lift to a long distance road race or grueling athletic event.

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  69. Wade Burleson: There’s wisdom in lamentation

    We seldom see such wisdom exercised when these things happen in church as entertainment. A season of lamentation across America is in order, but I don’t see much movement in that direction. It’s back to business as usual as long as the band shows up. A relatively few get it and do the right thing. At this point, I’m not sure what it will take to get mega in check, personalities off the throne, and Jesus back in the house. I was young and now am old and never thought I would see the church this far off track.

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  70. Headless Unicorn Guy: You don’t instantly become Spiritually Perfect (with none of your baggage left) when you walk the aisle and get Zapped like on the Damascus Road?

    After getting “zapped” on the Damascus Road, Paul disappeared into the Arabian wilderness for 3 years before he began his ministry. The children of Israel spent 40 years wandering through the wilderness until they learned what was in their hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2). How long will the American church be in the wilderness until we learn ‘our’ lesson?

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  71. SMAC: Do know that that many are in a wait-and-see state for more actual facts as opposed to guesswork. Yes, this site has provided some good and much needed facts, but also mixed in with too much speculation as previously mentioned.

    Excellent comment.

    This is why even the worst criminals deserve a defense attorney.

    When you’ve caught a pedophile, its easy to pile on the charges without pushback because, after all, you caught a pedophile!

    But the criminals walk free / the church suffers further reputational damage, when we do that.

    In this situation folks have jumped all over the words “young lady” in RM’s only statement regarding the allegations.

    At least one journalist has repeated this as “in his statement … RM denied her age at the time”

    And its become consensus opinion that this was just that. A denial. A lie.

    But was it? He said “when i was in my early twenties, sexual activity (with the accuser… for the next few years… [until] March of 1987.

    He admitts to

    1. Years long
    2. sexual activity with a
    3. “young lady”
    5. in his early 20’s.
    6. ending March 1987.

    Does anyone think with this bombshell of an admission he was actually hoping everyone would forget how to add & subtract? Or think that somehow we’d think he was NOT referring to his accuser?

    Already Public knowledge that it started 12/24/82. She was born January 1970. There was at least one incident when she was twelve. The majority if not all the rest took place age 13, 14, 15, and 16: it stopped prior to her disclosure 2 months after Cindy’s 17th birthday.

    That is damning. This was no denial. He threw himself under the bus (knowing he had no other choice)

    It started five months after RM’s 20th birthday. It stopped some time during or before March 1987, 4-5 months prior to RM’s 26th birthday.

    Neither Cindy, nor RM have been that specific. Did they have to be?

    RM did downplay it in tone, emphasizing the “over & done. resolved” aspect as he sees it.

    But it was factually a self incriminating, accuser corroborating admission, not a denial of her statements.

    To call his inclusion of the non specific words “young lady” a “lie” because he didnt say “12!” in a “yes. it was me” admission of criminal guilt is to–perhaps inadvertently–do something worse than “lie”

    It is a false accusation, a breaking of the ninth commandment.

    ““You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
    ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭5‬:‭20‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    https://bible.com/bible/111/deu.5.20.NIV

    commonly misquoted as “Thou shalt not lie”

    and conflated with “I will tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth”

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  72. Church girl:
    Sore-Sweet Dayes,

    And what I think is so pathetic, Gateway posts yesterday from their weekend message about families coming together.They start getting commenta, some in support, some calling the church out wanting accountability and transparency, questioning the elders and what they knew.Within 30 minutes, commenting ability is turned off.So now the members who have titled, given, attended can’t even comment? Give me a break.Can’t handle the heat, Gateway?
    Beyond pathetic.
    Why can’t concerned members comment on their thoughts of the church service after a major scandal breaks?Oh bc then you might have to address a few things and do you duty as a pastor.The church has forgotten a pastor is there to pastor people through these comments, concerns, etc.But if a member can’t even comment, how can they express their concern?

    This isn’t a communist ran mafia.This is the church.Open up the commenting!!!

    From the very beginning, it has always been about the image. They were the “model” church. Even if it is the truth, if it doesn’t make GW look good, it isn’t allowed.

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  73. ishy: I’m starting to believe maybe the ones that act like businesses should be taxed, but there are smarter minds than me that would have to figure out how to determine that. It’s not just Christian churches that do this either. Religion is a big money industry in the US, and as a country, I don’t think we’ve been really honest about that.

    I’m with you ishy, I’ve long advocated that religion be taxed just like any other business.
    It’s not fair that little Bill, the hourly wage slave pays (taxes) out the wazoo, while big Bob the tele-preacher skates, and buys a new jet.

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  74. Muff Potter,

    Just to be clear (as a low level minor league tax professional in my career), while churches as 501(c)(3) entities do not pay taxes, pastors, whether considered employees or independent contractors, do pay taxes on their income. It’s a bit more complicated than the usual pewsitter’s and there are some dual benefits allowed.

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  75. Ed Note: You don’t seem to understand how approving comments work. When one is a new commenter, I must approve the first comment you make on this blog. I am trying to manage the the massive number of new commenters. I also have to go the get groceries, etc. I am not hanging over the keyboard, eagerly waiting for a comment to approve. Max is dear friend of TWW and your comment would have been approved if you were patient.

    4th attempt. Max, thank you for your insghts here. Much appreciated. DEE I’ll keep attempting to post until I understand why you keep deleting this 1 and only post of mine merely trying to show appreciation. What a waste of time and quite unloving as well. Just tell me what the problem is, please.

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  76. Dee, you are spot-on with your questions and your overall assessment of the “service.” I did not attend but I did watch the full-length YouTube clip of what Tra said. I think it started out well (with apologies, stating how NONE of this was okay, etc), but then the sniffles, c’mon. The “rah-rah just stick together” TED talk, c’mon. Authenticity went out the door from that point forward and many of us feel that way.

    One thing I know is true is that so many of these congregants have been attending for years or decades, and invested TONS of capital – I think the fact that the campuses were packed-out was good only for the sake of people being able to assess how it was addressed, then make decisions from there (we’re not all gullible church idiots). My point — people didn’t necessarily show up like that because of support for Morris, more like wondering what is happening with their investment (of time, money, volunteering, etc). I think many people are wondering, “is it over?” And I guess “the people” will decide that with their attendance and giving. I won’t be one of them.

    IMHO we will find out how many people went to the church for Morris v. the programs and outreach. I suspect 1/3 will leave (statistically) but we will see. At the end of the day, I hope that continued attention from local and Govt authorities launches interest in new bills/laws regarding how churches are monitored, failure to report a crime, if outside the statute of limitations should still allow for a person to be sued, etc – just SOMETHING to get the victims restitution of some sort.

    I’ll end with this: at this point, I’m tired of EVERYONE (Robison, Lane, all the Elders) stating they had “no idea” regarding the whole story. Since it was their literal job to hold Morris accountable and they failed miserably, shouldn’t they have some repercussions? He was a YOUTH MINISTER and *no-one* thought a good follow-up question was, “How old was she?”

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  77. Col3:3,

    Completely confused as to why the rudeness when you name the name of Christ. As you said, I’m new, sso how in the world was I supposed to understand what you just explained when I would see my post appear “waiting for review” and then after some time, disappearing? This would indicate it was not approved. Right? There are other variables as well, Dee. I’m not angry or upset but considering the context of this whole thread (hypocrisy by one many trusted) I would’ve thought you might be less quick to cut someone off at the knees for merely being uniformed. I think you had to have known there was no impatience going on – just ignorance.

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  78. SJ: I’m tired of EVERYONE (Robison, Lane, all the Elders) stating they had “no idea” regarding the whole story. Since it was their literal job to hold Morris accountable and they failed miserably, shouldn’t they have some repercussions? He was a YOUTH MINISTER and *no-one* thought a good follow-up question was, “How old was she?”

    I don’t know whether they are telling the truth or not about this. I know enough about Gateway and how they’ve treated a lot of people to think that Morris needed holding accountable for other things, though, such as his support for absolutely terrible people who just happen to be politicians and powerful people. I know many people here think that a lot of us knew nothing about Gateway before this, but that’s just not true.

    Gateway’s been pulling very problematic things for a long time. They take a lot of money in that doesn’t go back out. Like my own state’s megamega, Northpoint, they plant churches only in the most affluent areas, not for the gospel, as they both claim, but for more money and power. They aren’t gospel bearers. They are multi-million dollar businesses for the leadership teams where they happen to preach religious beliefs that they don’t live up to themselves.

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  79. ishy: They are multi-million dollar businesses for the leadership teams where they happen to preach religious beliefs that they don’t live up to themselves.

    Tax them.
    Tax the holy-shmoley out of em’.
    It’s not fair that multi-million dollar enterprises skate on a flimsy religious exemption, while the rest of the populace must pay out the wazoo.

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  80. ishy:

    Gateway’s been pulling very problematic things for a long time….They aren’t gospel bearers. They are multi-million dollar businesses for the leadership teams where they happen to preach religious beliefs that they don’t live up to themselves.

    Precisely. The theology that Robert Morris/Gateway preaches is absolutely heretical, unbiblical, and idolatrous too.

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  81. Dawn Zimmerman,

    The comment elastigirl responded to said that we needed an earthly pastor to shepherd us.

    I happen to agree that a lot of the current SBC focus on elders and “shepherds” tends to be a lot more about cultic control than helping people. The SBC used to believe in believer autonomy and directly following Jesus. That ideology has changed dramatically in the past 30 years to elders demanding that church members give up all autonomy to the church. That is the key sign of a cult.

    I went to an SBC seminary. I can tell you, those people are often the last people that should be shepherding others. They don’t do so for Jesus. They do so because they enjoy the power it gives them.

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  82. ishy: I went to an SBC seminary. I can tell you, those people are often the last people that should be shepherding others. They don’t do so for Jesus. They do so because they enjoy the power it gives them.

    And those people are always the ones to flock to Moses Model leadership.

    “Power attracts the already corrupt and the easily corrupted.”
    — Frank Herbert (best known as the author of Dune)

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  83. Max: After getting “zapped” on the Damascus Road, Paul disappeared into the Arabian wilderness for 3 years before he began his ministry.

    NOT become Moses Model Founding Pastor/Leader of a New Church Plant three weeks later with a spectacular Testimony for his credentials.

    I don’t know if it was actually the Arabian wilderness, but he was definitely thinking things over and learning. Did he actually apprentice to one or more of the surviving Apostles as his mentor(s)? After all, he was a pupil of Gamaliel for years; now he once more becomes a pupil of a new mentor for three years. Street Yeshiva.

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  84. ishy: The SBC used to believe in believer autonomy and directly following Jesus. That ideology has changed dramatically

    The New Calvinists have essentially buried long-standing Baptist doctrines of “soul competency” and “priesthood of ‘the’ believer” … SBC distinctives that vaporized when Mohler’s army took charge and the BFM2000 revision took root.

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  85. HUGs–sometimes people really are zapped. I had a friend into cocaine and alcohol to the nth degree. Making himself and his family miserable. He finally hit bottom, gave his life to Christ, and stood up a new man. Literally. He shunned rehab and suffered no withdrawal and no dts. (I do NOT recommend trying this!) All I can say is that now for over a third of a century the new man has walked happy, his time of mourning ended, and served his family and Jesus faithfully. One of the happiest, nicest people to be around now. Back on the substances he was downright mean and angry.

    All that to say yeah, I think Paul really was on the backside of the desert. I think he let the Holy Spirit become his teacher. Something Baptists used to do before the BFM2000.

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  86. Dawn Zimmerman: Since the Shepherd Analogy was used Somewhat Regularly in the NT writings to describe Jesus, why are you so vehement in torching it?

    Not speaking for elastigirl here but for myself.

    I see very little of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, in the leaders of churches today; from priests, to ministers, to pastors, no matter their titles. Most seem more concerned with power, control, and money. The total antithesis of what Jesus was about. And the saddest of all is that people follow these leaders because of these very qualities opposed to Jesus’ way.

    So, my shepherd is Jesus and no one else.

    But be assured that we have all been taught (by above said leaders) that we need leaders to keep us on the straight and narrow. What a circus has been created.

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  87. Dawn Zimmerman,

    the christian leadership industry has exploited the concept of shepherd to be someone you pay to manage your faith for you.

    to create jobs with things to do, and job security for pastors

    they don’t teach you how to made informed decisions for yourself on theology & doctrine, history, hermeneutics, context, etc.,

    they simply tell you what to think.

    they give people the scriptural interpretation as if it’s the only right one,

    teaching people (either directly or indirectly by example and inference) to look down on and be wary of fellow believers who see things differently. at a minimum, if not more hostile measures.

    the net effect for christian culture is what novelist Ann Rice describes as “this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”

    this has been very apparent in the last week with the variety of comments coming through.

    i could say more…

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  88. Ydoesthiskeephappening: a bit of new info:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/robert-morris-gateway-church-sex-abuse-accuser-phone-call-rcna159153

    That’s huge.

    The headline could have been

    “Morris Admits Restitution Period Not Enough”

    Cindy: “Two years out of the ministry big deal. … I just have a real problem the fact that you have gone untouched by this.”

    RM: “Maybe I wasn’t asked to do enough but I did everything I was asked to do.”

    ……

    Cindy: “I honestly feel though that you wouldn’t have changed unless I would have told, … You only changed because you had to.”

    RM: “I am grateful that you told,… I am grateful because God used that to do a work in me that He needed to do. I am glad you did that”

    ——
    Anyone seen the actual transcript yet?

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  89. Max:
    There will not be “a time to heal” in the American church until we go through “a time to mourn.”No lamenting, no weeping, no repentance = no healing.

    You are so right Max. There has to be mourning, repentance and sorrow, grieving, lamenting…..What we are witnessing in the institutionalized church is long overdue and the true church will come out of it. It is quite painful. No one likes to be in the valley, but the valley is necessary before the mountaintop is appreciated. The end result will be good, but the time in between is, and should be painful. May God forgive us for our apathy.

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  90. So true. I am 84 years. Been Christian most of my life. One needs to research the writings of the late pastor David Wilkerson. Pastor Wilkerson’s last thoughts were concerning the condition of the church and what it had become. The Lord apparently told pastor Wilkerson, “David, you have revealed what is on my heart.” So, your reward for obedience is waiting with me.” He died in a car accident in Tyler,Texas. One of his sons speaks for the Lord now. I have a great fear of God’s judgment for I have seen it happen on this earth. He is merciful and loving but does not appreciate ones disobedience. Praise God. Trust Him with all your heart. Linda

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  91. Muff Potter,

    there are many articles that cover this – i recall reading about it at the time and was so struck by the raw honesty of it. in sharp contrast with my shiny & sucralose christian environment.

    here’s a good one.

    https://www.insights.uca.org.au/anne-rices-complicated-christianity/

    (and i love her writing and books. amazingly, i didn’t enter into the joy of reading til i was 26 – i tried so many times.

    finally John Grisham’s The Client did it for me. Then it was Ann Rice’s Interview With A Vampire. Got me at page 1.

    Then i was off and running with literature…Wilbur Smith is one of my favorites. still haven’t tackled Shakespeare)

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  92. Rev. Dr. Kathleen. M. Gatson: Just because a church is big, doesn’t mean that they are doing right.

    That has been a common misperception among churchgoers. Bigger is not always better. Mega has nothing to do with being more spiritual, under God’s blessing, or walking in His favor. It usually means that a man is in the pulpit who has a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and some sort of gimmick. So the masses come to be part of a cult of personality, to be entertained, and reminded that they are OK the way they are (no purity and holiness necessary). Rather than “doing right”, many mega ministers and ministries have been found to be doing wrong.

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  93. Rev. Dr. Kathleen. M. Gatson: Sometimes all we can do is go somewhere else to protect ourselves and our relationship with God.

    For many, that has meant fleeing from institutional religion. Following a steady string of failed ministers and ministries which have exposed the underbelly of counterfeit religion, believers have been exiting in great numbers to join the “Done” ranks … done with the organized church, but not done with Jesus. They may never try “church” again unless on the other side of genuine revival and spiritual awakening, God returns to the house.

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  94. MAX,

    I think the phrase Ichabod comes to mine for the churches in America. The Evangelical Industrial Complex and the Evangelical churches are like Gotham in “Batman Begins.” And here is what I (or rather my namesake said) in that movie:

    “Gotham’s time has come. Like Constantinople or Rome before it the city has become a breeding ground for suffering and injustice. It is beyond saving and must be allowed to die.”

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  95. Max: That has been a common misperception among churchgoers. Bigger is not always better. Mega has nothing to do with being more spiritual, under God’s blessing, or walking in His favor.

    And its total opposite — the “Us Four, No More, AMEN” house church — also has its serious problems.

    Anything that pinches itself off from the Outside away from any Reality Check can drift around until it can wind up in the end state of CULT territory.

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  96. Always remember the words of the late Baptist humorist Grady Nutt: he observed that it appears that “the Lord never seems to lead a pastor to take a pulpit at a SMALLER church and smaller paycheck…” the Rev. Nutt knew all too well that his Southern Baptist brethren were as glory and prestige seeking as any exec featured in Forbes magazine. And unfortunately, that tendency afflicts pastors of all denominations [and non-denominations]. Maybe if RM had not been pursing the prestige of expanding churches and a national pulpit, it might have been easier to step away from it all as well as to confess all…now he has lost it all.

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  97. PGM,

    I didn’t mention Olen since he was an apostolic elder. According to The Blessed Church, the apostolic elders (Olen, Robison, Hayford were mentioned in the book) only get involved whenever the regular elders (Tom, Tra, Steve, etc.) were unable to reach a unanimous agreement on a matter (they didn’t do anything without unanimous consensus per the book).

    My comment was about how Cindy’s story was able to be covered up to the other elders, by having Tom and Steve run interference.

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  98. Church girl,

    The “altar call” as seen in churches today is actually rather modern; evangelist Charles Finney was the first to use it.

    Spurgeon did NOT use it at Metropolitan Tabernacle; those who wanted to get saved were to come to his office the following day (he did gospel preaching on Sunday nights, reserving the morning for preaching to the congregation).

    And among megachurches I’ve seen both ways. Gateway and Prestonwood do them; Fellowship and Village do not.

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  99. Ed. Note. Than you for your thoughtful comment.

    My wife and I have attended Gateway for over 15 years, but yesterday was the last time. No mention of the victim, no update on anything being done (they did send us an email but didn’t even mentioned this in the service). Pretty much “business” as usual.

    There are basically 2 reasons we are leaving. First of all, the elders say that they did not know the details of the events (hard for me to believe that none of them did). But even if we accept that none did, they still let down the church and the victim. Even after they knew the details, they still did not fire Robert Morris – they let him resign!

    Secondly, there is still no transparency. What were the details of the resignation? How much was he paid off? How much are his retirement and benefits? I doubt that he just resigned and got nothing in return.

    I have read many comments about how Robert Morris did so many wonderful things and brought a lot of people to Christianity. I do not disagree with that. However, how many thousands or millions of people will now be totally turned away from religion because of this?

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  100. Jean: Always remember the words of the late Baptist humorist Grady Nutt: he observed that it appears that “the Lord never seems to lead a pastor to take a pulpit at a SMALLER church and smaller paycheck…”

    Yes. That is telling, isn’t it? Contrast with Jesus in Phil 2, where we’re told to have the same attitude.

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  101. Phil: I have read many comments about how Robert Morris did so many wonderful things and brought a lot of people to Christianity. I do not disagree with that. However, how many thousands or millions of people will now be totally turned away from religion because of this?

    When weighed in the balances, how will it stack up for him? How will his final legacy be measured – by his former days or the latter? Matthew 7 speaks to this dilemma.

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  102. Phil: My wife and I have attended Gateway for over 15 years, but yesterday was the last time. No mention of the victim, no update on anything being done (they did send us an email but didn’t even mentioned this in the service). Pretty much “business” as usual.

    This is pretty much modus operandi in mega-church when a crisis hits … the oldtimers at TWW have seen this time and again … lay low, don’t give out too much information, stick to the prepared text, stay the course, this will blow over.

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  103. I’ve only read this far in the comments….so many good comments and such good discussions. 🙂 I wanted to comment before I continue reading….not only the comments on this post, but the new posts and their comments.

    RAHZ: I’m very upset with myself for not recognizing the obvious and taking action by leaving long ago. I’m working to forgive myself – someday, hopefully.

    RAHZ,

    I’m so sorry for what happened to you. And my apologies if this comes off as a “Pious Platitude”, or if it causes you any hurt and / or pain — perhaps it will help you on your journey towards forgiving yourself to know that sharing your story will help other readers 🙂 , although they mightn’t (for many reasons) be able to reply to you. 🙂

    Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 ….I’m sure that the information you shared will help many people. 🙂

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  104. Choctaw,

    I have been attending Gateway Southlake for almost a decade and came to find on my own when volunteering that leadership within is very broken. If you speak your concerns, you are dismissed. In my case I was put under counseling which the church paid but I had to sign a release for them to receive a report at the end to review. I invited a Morris family member into a conversation where I was looking to be ministered to. The encounter was on church grounds following a service and just outside an exit for a period of no more than 5 minutes. When one of the associate pastors found out, I was told “ I’ve worked here for years and I’ve never even spoken to him.” Our church staffers and members see the Morris family as celebrities. I asked directly if we are to treat them like celebrities and I was shamed and pushed out for questioning.
    I have since found that there is a huge community of people that have been hurt by Gateway as a local body. As long as Gateway keeps their eyes on their global footprint, their local church and members will continue to be collateral damage.
    The response the church has given, seems to be as a protective of its brand and not true transparency. I am waiting and praying there is a turnover in leadership and this cancer is removed. In my humble opinion, RM is a gifted speaker but the church grew past his gift and anointing. How can you possibly leave the 99 to go after the 1, if you have no idea who is in your congregation? Jesus never wanted this for his churches. Church is for the local body and community and Gateway appears to have forgotten this.

    I pray Gateway Church comes out healthy, I pray healing for everyone and I pray RM admits fully to Cindy and everyone else he did wrong hiding this. Cindy and victims of abuse should have means to speak out and receive full justice. She has not received this and that is not right.

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  105. Godlovesusall: church staffers and members see the Morris family as celebrities … RM is a gifted speaker but the church grew past his gift and anointing

    Herein lies the core problem with mega personality-driven churches. Celebrity-followers mistake charisma and a gift of gab with spiritual gifting and anointing. This never ends well for such leaders or those who follow them – an errant teaching, financial fraud, or moral failure will bring mega to a halt. Gateway is experiencing that now.

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  106. I’ve only read this far in the comments….and I’ve not yet started reading the other new TWW posts and their comments. 🙂

    I wanted to reply before I continue reading….then I’ll go back to eating my lunch. 🙂

    And my apologies if anything I write in my comment sounds like I’m insulting you (or your friend), linda 🙂 ….such is not my intent.

    linda: sometimes people really are zapped. I had a friend into cocaine and alcohol to the nth degree. Making himself and his family miserable. He finally hit bottom, gave his life to Christ, and stood up a new man. Literally. He shunned rehab and suffered no withdrawal and no dts. (I do NOT recommend trying this!) All I can say is that now for over a third of a century the new man has walked happy, his time of mourning ended, and served his family and Jesus faithfully. One of the happiest, nicest people to be around now. Back on the substances he was downright mean and angry.

    Thank you for taking the time to write your comment, linda. 🙂 AND for noting that you don’t recommend people go cold turkey (off medications, drugs, alcohol, etc.)

    I’ve known of a case where some people did an intervention with someone who was severely alcoholic. That person ended up in the hospital with a grand mal seizure.

    And I’ve known people who’ve gone off prescription and non-prescription medication(s) — and in some cases, sugar — cold turkey….and they’ve experienced terrible and debilitating withdrawals….enough to drive them to want to commit suicide.

    Yet I’ve also known other people who’ve gone off prescription and non-prescription medication(s) — and in some cases, sugar — cold turkey, and they’ve not experienced any issues at all.

    Some of the people who successfully went off their prescription and / or non-prescription medication(s) — and in some cases, sugar — have demonstrated a changed personality….not because of their religion (and I’m not referring specifically to Christianity), but because they’re no longer addicted to — and ruled by — their “drug-of-choice”.

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  107. RM been walking in purity now? I hope Debbie Morris reads this. DFW area is full of massage parlors and escorts. Check his cellphone for numbers you don’t recognize. Call the number and see who answers. See if he has another text messaging app that he can hide. Maybe a burner phone? Look for text messages. He could have also made calls using some of these apps or a burner phone. Check for frequent ATM cash withdrawals of hundreds of dollars where he gets the cash to pay for massages or escorts. Check the credit card receipts and see if he has any hotel room charges for one day/night. Does he have any bank accounts or credit cards that you don’t know about? With a net worth of about $117 he has a lot of options.

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  108. proffy:
    RM been walking in purity now? I hope Debbie Morris reads this. DFW area is full of massage parlors and escorts. Check his cellphone for numbers you don’t recognize. Call the number and see who answers. See if he has another text messaging app that he can hide. Maybe a burner phone? Look for text messages. He could have also made calls using some of these apps or a burner phone. Check for frequent ATM cash withdrawals of hundreds of dollars where he gets the cash to pay for massages or escorts. Check the credit card receipts and see if he has any hotel room charges for one day/night. Does he have any bank accounts or credit cards that you don’t know about? With a net worth of about $117 he has a lot of options.

    That’s presuming he did everything right after the sh** hit the fan. He may have already set things up long beforehand and hid everything.

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  109. researcher: R’as al Ghul,

    I know you were providing the link for Headless Unicorn Guy, but I enjoyed reading the short post. And I enjoy the ongoing conversations between the two of you ….it’s like being able to see more of the picture.

    That’s because even though HUG and I are a number of years apart in age (he has me by some years), we had very similar backgrounds and education (STEM), interests (military boardgames and tabletop RPGs), science fiction, etc. As such, we both speak much of the same tribal lingo and jargon and know the various references we state in our comments. Much of the same end-times nuttiness, Jack Chick weirdness and conspiracies, satanic panics, etc we both saw firsthand.

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  110. Headless Unicorn Guy: As someone who’s tried his hand in imaginative fiction, this also holds for storytelling in general:
    A Hero needs a Strong Villain in order to truly be Heroic.
    (And the stronger the villain, the greater the Hero.)
    A victorious ending must be contrasted with a Deep Dark Valley on the way to that victory.
    (And in Horror, that Deep Dark Valley gets really Deep & Dark; the difference between Adventure andHorror is that in Horror, all hope (or next to all) is lost.)
    It is often the Dark and Strong emotions that put Power behind a narrative.
    (I have had three or four stories burst into my mind demanding to be written; all of them have been Dark; two involved Death. Including the one where I got my handle.)

    Frodo and Sam did have to cross the dark plains of Mordor through the arid, broken lands of Gorgoroth.

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  111. My family left Gateway during COVID. 16 years we were there. We were ushers. Prior to that we had hosted life groups & also attended many conferences etc. We were “all in”. When COVID hit we couldn’t figure out why, according to our beliefs, instead of locking down, masking & all the crazy government stuff, why didn’t we meet the sick at the door & go pray for their healing? It was inconsistent with the teaching there. I confronted our immediate superiors as well as writing to the campus pastor. They were following the Holy Spirit, came the response. You mean the ONE in which all truth resides? Clearly following Him wasn’t the case. Isn’t the church empowered to minister to the sick? To the broken? Down through the ages? Also I started doing research & the response to George Floyd. Bogus. Racist (towards me). Their “unity” page was full of DEI literature and authors, at that time. Not unlike many large religious organizations- do the research. Bottom line: their response to crisis was inconsistent with their beliefs. In sadness, we moved on, unable to effect change through our own small efforts. To my way of thinking, it was possible THEN to see an organization that was not fully committed to truth and living it out. They wouldn’t buck the government, instead aligned with it,to the harm of many. Here they are in another crisis & a credible question is: are you responding properly? Is your response Biblical? If not, why not? Are you protecting the people? Or yourselves?

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  112. R’as al Ghul: That’s because even though HUG and I are a number of years apart in age (he has me by some years), we had very similar backgrounds and education (STEM), interests (military boardgames and tabletop RPGs), science fiction, etc. As such, we both speak much of the same tribal lingo and jargon and know the various references we state in our comments. Much of the same end-times nuttiness, Jack Chick weirdness and conspiracies, satanic panics, etc we both saw firsthand.

    Thank you for taking the time to write these extra details, R’as al Ghul 🙂 ….it adds even more to the picture. 🙂

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  113. Rick:
    My family left Gateway during COVID. 16 years we were there. We were ushers. Prior to that we had hosted life groups & also attended many conferences etc. We were “all in”. When COVID hit we couldn’t figure out why, according to our beliefs, instead of locking down, masking & all the crazy government stuff, why didn’t we meet the sick at the door & go pray for their healing? It was inconsistent with the teaching there. I confronted our immediate superiors as well as writing to the campus pastor. They were following the Holy Spirit, came the response. You mean the ONE in which all truth resides? Clearly following Him wasn’t the case. Isn’t the church empowered to minister to the sick? To the broken? Down through the ages? Also I started doing research & the response to George Floyd. Bogus. Racist (towards me). Their “unity” page was full of DEI literature and authors, at that time. Not unlike many large religious organizations- do the research. Bottom line: their response to crisis was inconsistent with their beliefs. In sadness, we moved on, unable to effect change through our own small efforts. To my way of thinking, it was possible THEN to see an organization that was not fully committed to truth and living it out. They wouldn’t buck the government, instead aligned with it,to the harm of many. Here they are in another crisis & a credible question is: are you responding properly? Is your response Biblical? If not, why not? Are you protecting the people? Or yourselves?

    They were obeying the government. (Protecting their 501C3 status) It was the love of $$$. I was actually told by a pastor, “You would not believe how much money we are saving being shut down.” I truly don’t believe that pastor realized what they had said to me. We already had one foot out the door, but the shutdown proved to us that GW had gone woke and that it was the Morris Corporation. Does anyone remember RM calling us “ignorant white people”? The only thing that kept us there as long as we were there was our relationships.

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  114. Rick:
    Donna,

    That doesn’t say much for the theology/ beliefs! Unfortunately, when ‘belief’ is fused with $$, then everything comes into question.I know that God worked there, but unfortunately, the dustiness of man became clearly evident.Back to a Savior – we need Him – and our eyes need to be fixed there and only there.

    We do believe our first 10 years there, we learned a lot and did see God at work. It was the next 8 years we saw/heard things that didn’t set well with us. We did have some great pastors at NRH that we highly respected.

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  115. Eric,

    The act was horrific. The Bible says all sin is equal in God’s eyes. What would Jesus do? When I say it was decades ago I am not dismissing what happened to the girl. Like I said it was horrific. I believe Pastor Morris has sought forgiveness and God has forgiven him. The Bible tells us when we ask for forgiveness it’s cast as far it is from the East to the west and He remember it no more. We’re human so I know it’s tough to forget things like this in the gateway Family will probably never forget but they must forgive. If you do not forgive then He will not forgive. If the church is going to be a genuine reflection of God then I think they should forgive. It’s My Hope and prayer Pastor Morris can you use this as an example of past sin coming to the surface. If Morris wanted to resign then that’s on him and if the church wants the fire him because of his past action and sin then everyone in that church should be removed for their past sense. Every elder has a sin in their life singular or plural and let’s bring a sin up from 20 30 40 50 years ago and publicly announce it. What good does that serve?

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  116. Jerrie: I believe Pastor Morris has sought forgiveness and God has forgiven him.

    Are you like the Pharisees in Mark 7:9-13 who feel that since a man “‘tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)” then he no longer has to care for his parents? Do you think that since Morris has sought God’s forgiveness and received it (at least according to him), he no longer has to repair the injury to those he has harmed? Instead he can hold on to his high position as pastor?

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