FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The senior pastor at the America’s 14th-largest Christian megachurch has shocked his flock by suddenly resigning his position due to “a moral failing in his life.”
South Florida’s Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale says Bob Coy stepped down April 3, “effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.”
There was no further disclosure about the specific type of moral failing.
The 58-year-old pastor is married to Diane Coy, who co-founded the church with him nearly 30 years ago. The congregation has since grown from its main campus to have six affiliated churches in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, West Boca, Plantation, Hollywood and the Keys.
“The media ministry of the Active Word that distributes his Bible teachings through radio, television, and digital media has also been suspended,” the church said in its statement.
Regarding the removal of Coy’s teachings, his fellow pastor Dan Hickling explained, “Unfortunately, we have already witnessed the malicious use of Pastor Bob’s images and vicious rumors online that can only run contrary to our hope for restoration. With that in mind, we have taken the precaution to suspend access to his teaching content for now.”
Leaders of the 20,000-member church also indicated, “Pastor Bob will be focusing his full attention on his personal relationship with God and with his family. The governing board of the church is providing counselors and ministers who will help guide him through the process of full repentance, cleansing and restoration.
“Trusting in God’s providence, protection, provision and direction, the staff of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale will continue our mission to ‘make disciples,’ through regular services at all campuses and through a myriad of other ministries the church has established over the years. A team of assistant pastors already on staff will maintain their usual rotating schedule as teaching pastors for all services.”
“Recognizing we serve a God of second chances and that our hope is in Him,” the statement concludes, “the leadership, staff and members of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale have joined together in prayer for Pastor Bob and his family during this time of healing.”
South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel reported thousands of parishioners showed up for a special Sunday afternoon meeting at the church and were stunned to learn Coy had abruptly quit.
“Most people were shocked,” congregant Robert Milne, of Wilton Manors, Fla., who attended the standing room-only meeting that drew some 7,500 parishioners, told the paper. “A lot of people were hurt, a lot of people are disappointed.”
“Of course I forgive him,” Milne added. “We’re all sinners and we’ve all slipped here and there.”
During the special meeting, pastors read a letter from Coy in which he said he was sorry for his transgressions and that the church will continue to flourish.
Shocked parishioners are sounding off online about the resignation, with many saying they’re praying for Coy, and others expressing concern and confusion:
- “The Lord still used King David’s inspired writings in the Bible after he sinned. Hopefully the media as well as Pastor Bob and his family will be fully restored. May God bring healing to them.” (Karen Turco)
- “I’m not discouraged because of his termination. We are all human and therefore NOT perfect. I’m in prayer with him and his family. He is an iconic entity and helped thousands of lost souls thought the many years of service, That is worth to celebrate. But to just walk away without facing his fears and mistakes is what is bothering me. Maybe I’m being too judgmental and jumping the gun a bit, because no one knows the details or facts, but I did think that facing us and moving ON it is still for me the better choice. Or at least ask for time to reflect and heal. Running off like that doe not seem the Bob Coy we all know and love! Please unite with me in prayer for this great man to come back soon. We, your congregation, love you and forgive you. Amen.” (Richard Dos Santos)
- “His failure of the flesh is something he has warned us about could happen to anyone of us. I’m sad because I’m thinking that he may have felt he was in a powerful position and couldn’t seek out the help for fear of embarrassment or shame. Our church has ministries in place for specifically these types of issues. That makes it harder for me to understand since the help was right there. He has taught us to be accountable to each other and to have a group of trusted friends and family around us … why didn’t he reach out to his brothers? We all know that the closer you get to Christ, the harder the enemy works at breaking you down. For the enemy to have won this battle does not mean he will win the war. I’m sad because the world is looking in from the outside and will only see this failure of a church leader and think ‘here we go again, another religious hypocrite.’ That breaks my heart because Pastor Bob should not be remembered for this indiscretion only. He has done a lot of good for a lot of people. I’m so sad for Diane & Christian & Kate. I always considered them such a blessed family to have such a strong husband and father leading them. I’m sad that they must feel so betrayed.” (Sarah)
- “First of all our prayers are with Pastor Bob and his wife and children. Secondly, I would like to express my disappointment in Pastor Bob not addressing his church family at [Sunday's] meeting. The resignation letter read by Pastor Doug just seemed so hollow. I remember other church meetings where pastors were rebuked in front of the meeting. This is part of the healing process. Third, do not misread my statements as being accusatory. Pastor Bob, I (and many of us) forgive you for whatever may have happened. We do not cast judgment, we ARE your family.” (Dan)