The megachurch pastor who is the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham has resigned after admitting to an affair. Tullian Tchividjian was the senior minister of the vociferously anti-LGBT Coral Ridge Ministries in south Florida.
In a statement released to the Washington Post, Tchividjian admitted to his own infidelity and revealed that his wife was also unfaithful, blaming her for his own "inappropriate relationship." The two have been married since 1994.
"I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues," Tchividjian said in the statement.
"As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated.
"Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy."
Tchividjian's wife, Kim Tchividjian, however, indicated there are two sides to his story in her own statement sent to the Post Monday morning.
"The statement reflected my husband's opinions but not my own. Please respect the privacy of my family at this time, thank you. I do thank everyone for the outpouring of love for my family as well during this difficult time and we appreciate all the prayers and support we are receiving."
Tchividjian took over the ministry after Senior Paster James Kennedy, an architect of the religious right's political takeover of the Republican Party, died in 2007. As Coral Ridge pastor, however, Tchividjian shied away from politics unlike his uncle, Franklin Graham.
Graham is one of the most outspoken opponents of LGBT rights and made headlines recently for beginning a boycott by moving his ministry's money out of Wells Fargo bank, because the company produced an advertisement featuring two lesbian mothers. Graham moved the church's funds to BB&T bank, another LGBT-friendly financial institution.
Tchividjian tweeted Sunday afternoon:
Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the fourth Florida megachurch pastor to resign after having affairs, according to the Post, including the son of megachurch pastor Joel Hunter.
During his years as an evangelist, Billy Graham, now 96, had a rule that he would never meet, eat or travel with a woman alone. The so-called "Billy Graham" rule is still discussed today among evangelicals as some wonder whether it has hurt women from climbing in evangelical leadership.
A previous edition of this report indicated Graham had died. It has now been updated. The Advocate regrets the error.