Billy Graham grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, confesses affair, resigns Coral Ridge pulpit

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |
Tullian Tchividjian at the 2011 First Baptist Church Jacksonville Pastors' Conference. | Bill Thompson Photography

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- Tullian Tchividjian, 42 year-old grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, resigned as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Sunday after admitting to an extra-marital affair.

Tchividjian released a statement to the Washington Post stating that upon his return from a trip a few months ago, he discovered his 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," he said.

He went on to say that both he and his wife were heartbroken by their actions and asked for prayer and privacy for his family as they seek healing for their wounds. Tchividijian and his wife Kim have been married since 1994 and have three children.

Coral Ridge executive pastor Rob Pacienza also released a statement to the Washington Post.

"Several days ago, Pastor Tullian admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned – effective immediately.

"We are saddened by this news, but are working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time, and asking people to join us in praying that God will bring restoration through this process and healing to all involved," Pacienza stated.

Tchividijian assumed his role at the famed church in 2009 following the 2007 death of its first pastor D. James Kennedy who served in the role since 1959. The church's growth to mega-church status is largely attributed to the Evangelism Explosion program developed by Kennedy and used by churches around the globe.

Tchividijian took a less visible stance with regard to public policy than Kennedy. Many of the ministries Kennedy founded to address his concerns about the relationship of morality to public policy and accurate representation of American history continue today separate from Coral Ridge.

Christianity Today reported of Tchividijian's public departure last year from The Gospel Coalition following a public dispute regarding World Vision's policy change, later retracted, to hire couples in legal, same-sex marriages.

The 700 Club aired a segment in which Tchividijian discussed his troubled teenage and young adult years and his wife's role in helping him turn his life around. He has also written several books for publisher David C. Cook, Multnomah Press, and Crossway.

None of Tchividijian's nor the church's social media outlets or web sites contain information about today's resignation although recent posts by Tchividijian have focused on the themes of human imperfection, God's grace and sovereignty, and honesty.

Tchividjian is the son of Graham's daughter Gigi and husband Stephen and the nephew of well- known evangelical leaders Franklin Graham, founder of Samaritan's Purse, and conference speaker Anne Graham Lotz.