RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond pastor facing child sexual abuse charges in Texas is speaking out about his recent resignation from his Southside megachurch.
In the statement, Aguilar says he decided to step down last week due to the criminal charges "taking the focus off of Jesus" and instead putting it on him. He asks his congregation to pray for him and his family, tells them "no person will ever love you like your pastor has" and thanks the ROC's staff and leadership team.
The ROC's Board of Directors announced Wednesday evening the acceptance of the resignations from Aguilar, Pastor Jason Helmlinger, Pastor Andrew Delgado and Pastor Matthew Aguilar.
The board says the terms were "mutually agreeable" and wished "the best for the pastors and their families."
Arrest warrants for embattled Richmond pastor, and ROC founder, Geronimo Aguilar detail the child sex allegations out of Fort Worth, Texas.
Fort Worth Police say the pastor repeatedly sexually assaulted two young girls under the age of 14. The alleged assaults started back in 1996 when Aguilar was 26 and his youngest victim was 11.
Prosecutors in Texas charged Geronimo Aguilar with seven felony counts in the two child sex abuse cases. Four of the counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child under 14, are first degree felonies that could carry life in prison.
Geronimo Aguilar temporarily stepped down from his positions as President of the Board and Pastor at the Richmond Outreach Center last month due to the charges.
His attorney says his client is innocent.
Here's the complete text of the statement released on the ROC's website Thursday:
To the Greatest Church in the Whole World,
The past twelve years at The ROC have been an amazing journey. God took an unlikely crew from the West Coast, planted us in a warehouse that was a little larger than our current lobby, and grew us into one of the fastest-growing churches in America. In the last twelve years, we have:
- Helped hundreds of men and women overcome drug and alcohol addictions and become productive, hard-working citizens through our Discipleship Homes,
- Shared the life-changing love of Jesus Christ with thousands of children ages 5-12 through our weekly Kids Service, giving more than 351,150 rides to Kids Service through our Whosoever Kids Bus Ministry, and
- Won more than 150,000 souls to the Lord.
My heart's desire was to establish a soulwinning church that embraced the principles of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness; and that's what we have been able to do. And this unorthodox church, which was founded on what many thought to be an impossible and unrealistic vision, has positively impacted Richmond more than any other church in our city's history. God has used The ROC to transform our city. And through all of this, never has a pastor been loved as much as your pastor.
As you all know, my family and I have been facing difficult trials and persecution. This has taken a toll on me and my family, as well as those close to me. Unfortunately, during this difficult season, the focus has been taken off of Jesus and put on me, and that is not what The ROC is all about.
For this reason, I decided last week that it was time for me to permanently step down from my position as Senior Pastor of the Richmond Outreach Center. I came to this decision after much prayer and wise counsel from a dear friend; and the Board is graciously supporting my decision. Serving you all and leading this church have been the best twelve years of my life. Although we will not be at The ROC, Samantha and I are not leaving Richmond, and we hope to continue the many relationships we have built with you all. I would ask that you pray for me and my family, as we don't know what God has in store for us, next.
The Board of Directors is committed to carrying out the vision that God gave me for The ROC, because it was never my vision, it was God's vision for our church and our city. The ROC will continue to have Six O'Clock ROC, and continue the outreach ministries that have transformed our city. The Board will appoint a new pastoral team, and I am confident that they will seek God in their selection process. God will send the right men to lead The ROC, and they will be great men; but no person will ever love you like your pastor has.
If I could leave you with one thought, it would be to continue to do the one thing that I have always tried to be an example of more than anything else: to love one another. This is how we show that we belong to Jesus, and this is how we show God that we love Him—by loving each other, especially those who have nothing to offer us in return.
I would like to thank the Board of Directors, The ROC's Leadership Team, and most of all, The ROC staff. The ROC has the greatest, most dedicated team of employees in the world, and I could not have led The ROC for the past twelve years without you all.
Pastor Geronimo Aguilar