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Children Banned From Church Where Sex Offender Preaches

Huffington Post

A convicted sex offender in Jacksonville, Fla., will continue preaching at his church, but children are not allowed to attend because it would violate his probation.

According to a story in the Florida Times-Union, Darrel Gilyard has been preaching at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church since the end of January — about a month after he was released from prison.

Children are not allowed to be on church property, however, because Gilyard can not have “unsupervised contact” with minors. Gilyard’s attorneys recently withdrew a motion to change his probation status to allow minors in the sanctuary while he preaches, but they are also trying to determine if “supervised contact” is appropriate.

The state’s department of corrections ruled, according to the article, Gilyard does not violate his probation if children are not present while he preaches. He also cannot perform any pastoral duties, which includes counseling members.

Gilyard was convicted for committing sex crimes against two teenage girls at megachurch Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2008. While in prison, he admitted to fathering a child with a woman who accused him of rape during a counseling session. He was released from prison after three years in December.

Strangely enough, Gilyard’s new church has seen an increase in membership. The Times-Union article says the church’s average attendance was around 10 before he arrived as preacher, and it has since shot up to 150-200 people each Sunday.

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

Gilyard said after his first service at the church, “I’m simply preaching. I’m not the pastor of Christ Tabernacle.”


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