Citing extramarital affairs, Billy Graham's grandson resigns

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Tullian Tchividjian leads a session during the 2011 First Baptist Church Jacksonville Pastors' Conference. | Bill Thompson Photography

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Christian Examiner) – Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, has resigned his pulpit at the famed Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., citing both his and his wife's infidelity.

Tchividjian released a statement to the Washington Post June 21, claiming "ongoing marital issues" as the reason for his absence from the pulpit over the past several weeks and his departure from the church.

"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," Tchividjian, the son of Billy Graham's oldest daughter, wrote.

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.

Tchividjian said he was approached by church leaders who inquired about his own affair, which he admitted. Church leaders, together with Tchividjian, decided his resignation was warranted.

"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," he wrote.

Church elders at Coral Ridge provided a statement on the church's website, detailing the congregation's response to Tchividjian's admission.

That statement said, "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," the statement said.

The statement also said the church was seeking the Lord's guidance during the transition period, but was unclear who would lead it forward.

Tchividjian succeeded Dr. D. James Kennedy as senior pastor of Coral Ridge in 2009, following Kennedy's death. Kennedy, along with leaders like Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed, were key leaders in the Religious Right movement of the 1980s and 1990s. That movement was a religious as well as a political force, with Kennedy and others offering quasi-endorsements of conservative political candidates.

According to the Washington Post, Tchividjian steered clear of political issues, unlike his uncle, Franklin Graham, who has openly critical of President Obama and spoken against the rise of radical Islam.

The Post also cites a tortured relationship between Tchividjian and factions in the church still loyal to Kennedy's daughter.

Tchividjian and his wife, Kim, were married in 1994 and have three children. Tchividjian's name has already been removed from the Coral Ridge website.