As someone who grew up in the church, it saddens and angers me at the same time to hear stories of pastors and church clergy using their influence to commit sinful acts.

A prominent Tyler pastor who also has an award for "non-violent social change" named after him, was arrested after accusations that he stole money from an elderly couple and opened bank accounts without the church's consent came to light.

According to The Tyler Morning Telegraph, 65-year-old Jerome Milton of Tyler who is the pastor for the Open Door Bible Church was arrested and charged on Saturday with two counts of credit or debit card abuse against the elderly and one count of property theft between $2,500 and $30,000.

Tyler police began investigating Milton after the couple's son overheard a church member saying that Milton was misusing their debit cards and getting them to sign blank check according to his arrest affidavit. Police said that the investigation showed multiple debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals from the elderly husband’s bank card along with multiple checks written from the couple’s account to Milton and his personal and church accounts.

What makes this story shocking to most in the community is that Milton is known as a respected coach, pastor, and foster parent who once was honored with an invitation to lead the U.S. House of Representatives in prayer as guest chaplain. There was also an award named after him for non-violent social change.

He remained Friday in the Smith County Jail since his arrest on bonds totaling $550,000.

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