Cleburne, TX — New Heart Family Worship Center Senior Pastor Claude Gilliland III, who was recently outed as a registered sex offender, apologized to his congregation for his sordid past.
“Me and my ex-wife were in porn, we were in the booze and the drugs,” Gilliland admitted Sunday.
The 54-year-old pastor confessed that he served four years for the sexual assault of his ex-wife in 1993. While he denies that he assaulted her, he did admit that he wasn’t the best person back then.
“The life I led was nothing but a juggle, and it was heartache after heartache after heartache,” he said.
According to CBS 11, the church has been divided over Gilliland’s admission. While some members said they wished they had known about his past before he was elected as senior pastor, others said they knew and still supported him.
Former Senior Pastor Carl Roye said, “I believe he’s a good man. I believe he’s a Godly man. He puts God first.”
Roye also said that Gilliland was going through a nasty divorce at the time of his arrest, and that his ex-wife claimed that he raped her.
“He said he never raped her and they patted him on the back and sent him to court. He didn’t have the money to get a lawyer,” Roye said.
While Roye encouraged Gilliland to tell the truth, he lamented that he wasn’t entirely open with church members. He just said that he had a “dark past.”
The church’s youth pastor has resigned from the position following Gilliland’s confession.
“The pain and heartache it brought to New Heart Church, I did not intend it to be this way,” Gilliland said.
Still, the fact that Gilliland has turned his life over to God has proven to be enough for some people. Friend Glenn Burlingham said, “He has paid his debt to society. He has asked God for forgiveness, and it’s a stamp of approval from me.”
Gilliland isn’t the only pastor who has been accused of sexual misconduct. In August, we reported that a married Atlanta pastor had been accused of spreading HIV to several members of his congregation. Pastor Craig Lamar Davis was arrested for reckless conduct, but released from jail on $1,500 bond.