Photo via Miami New Times

A church in Jacksonville, Florida is coming under fire for its controversial decision to ban children from its church services.

According to a local Jacksonville news affilate, Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church has banned children from attending Sunday services because their new pastor, Darrell Gilyard, is a registered sex offender and cannot have contact with children.

In 2009 Gilyard plead guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation of two underage girls. While he was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church Gilyard molested a 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another. Under the conditions of his plea agreement, Gilyard cannot have “unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old,” and his new church has taken extraordinary steps to help Gilyard stick to the terms of his deal.

Despite the seriousness of his offense, Gilyard’s return to the pulpit was swift. After being released from jail on December 28, he resumed preaching in January, and  told reporters he hopes he can move past this incident and continue with his work.

“Somehow I will prove that life isn’t over when one has committed a crime for which he receives this heinous label,” Gilyard told a reporter, ironically through text message. “You don’t have to languish on the fringes of society.”

While I believe in forgiveness, banning children from church in order to welcome a pedofile into the fold is not only creepy, but it’s downright shameful.

What do you think? What kind of message is Gilyard’s church sending to its youth?

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  • PeeWee

    WOOOOWW is all I have to say smh…

    It’s ridiculous how sick of a world we live in…and these are people of GOD! Of the LORD! *sigh*…

  • This is just dirty dog wrong. On too many fronts.

    I am wondering what sort of twisted souls attend this church… and what is supposed to happen once the congregation starts procreating? Will couples start leaving the kids home with a sitter come Sunday morning?

    Give me a break. Forgiveness, yessir. But reappointment to a holy position of power? I thinks not.


  • hmm lemme guess, folks who are defending him think those two girls were being fast?

    • Rap

      Maybe they have decided that 15 is older than Mary was when Jesus was born. And the man trying to keep a brother down.

    • arlette


    • Liz

      Sarcasm, Arlette, Sarcasm…

    • tzim

      I disagree, Arlette. While a pedo or any rapist for that matter is pretty high up there on the horrible scale, they are in no way as bad or worse (in my opinion) than say, serial murderers for example. These girls may be traumatized and scarred, but at least they’re still alive. With therapy and their loved ones, they are likely to lead happy, fulfilling lives even with the trauma so long as they receive the support they need. People are strong and resilient creatures, we do have the ability to heal emotional wounds, compensate and cope to pull through and move on.

      As far as this article and situation goes. Unbelievable. While I disagree with branding people for life for any crime (after all, we wouldn’t brand a murderer for life, but we’ll brand a kid a sex offender for life for sexting? Really?! In what universe does that make any sense?), if it is a choice between protecting the guilty or protecting the innocent – always protect the innocent. He should be forced out of the church, not the children and the families who do not have the luxury of Sunday sitters.

  • Nadia

    Up is down, down is up. This is perverse, it really is.

  • Val

    After seeing so many people defend RKelly on a previous post I am totally not surprised by this. It seems that many people will protect and defend a pedophile before they will defend children.

    • EXTREMELY sad.

    • Anthony

      Val, I couldn’t agree with you more. Our community does not do a very good job protecting our children. Have we so much trauma being Black in America that we will sacrifice our children so that a pedophile can continue to preach in the pulpit? This man sexually assaulted children, and that church removes children, denying them the chance to worship, just to make run for a sexual abuser? I love my Black people, we we are in need of some serious therapy.

    • Stupid is just stupid – whether it’s in a church or anywhere else. The decision that the congregation made to allow this pedophile in their pulpit – to lead their people – is stupid. R. Kelly performing at Whitney Houston’s funeral doesn’t have any relevance because the family made the decision to have him sing at their daughter/mother/sister’s funeral – they didn’t ask him to become New Hope’s music pastor or to be a leader or role model in the church. Whether we agree or disagree, that’s the family’s choice.

      A pastor, a so-called man of God, who cannot be around children because of his lewd conduct with little girls, leading a church is foolishness at its worst. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Anyone who supports banning children to keep the pedophile pastor is not acting as Christ would. They are just serving man, not God.

    • The Black Police

      Exactly, urbanista.

      There is no comparison.

      One is a (secular) singer tributing his friend at her funeral. They reportedly had a close relationship and he was picked to sing a song in her honor. Though the funeral was held at church it has no bearing on the participants of the funeral.

      The other is supposed to be a pastoral leader to the church flock. Pastors are held to a high standard. That is not to say that they are not privy to sin. They are humans but this is one big sin. Though some people subscribe to the philosophy that all sins are the same, I disagree. Killing someone is different from stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. Taking advantage of a person sexually is different from lying about why you were late for work. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the concept of “gravity of the situation”. Anyway, though we should forgive the pastor, he should not be given his position back at least not right away and certainly not after rigorous counseling. For me time is essential. He needs probation. I wonder if there is a church council or other accountability group involved here. Most importantly, no group of people should be barred from church – definitely not children. Why would you ban children from church? The man should be removed.

    • DolphinsandPuppies

      People want to claim there is a difference between this man and R Kelly but there really isn’t. The fact that people will continue to SUPPORT people like this is appalling. I can’t help but think of the children…..