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Texas megachurch pastor steps down after inappropriate online relationship

The pastor of a Texas church was placed on a leave of absence on Sunday, telling his congregation that he had messaged a woman who was not his wife in a way that was “unguarded and unwise.”

Matt Chandler, the head pastor of Village Church in Dallas, stated that the messages were not sexual or romantic, but the church’s elders decided Chandler “did not use language appropriate for a pastor, and he did not model a behavior that we expect from him,” a church statement said.

Chandler’s leave of absence comes as the larger Southern Baptist community has struggled to deal with sexual misconduct allegations.

Chandler, 48, says the incident began when a woman approached him in the church’s lobby to confront him about messages he’d sent to a friend of hers on Instagram.

While Chandler said the messages took place with full knowledge of both his and the woman’s spouses, the church hired an outside law firm to audit Chandler’s online activity.

Church leaders stated that Chandler had failed to meet the biblical standards of being above reproach following the investigation, but he has not been disqualified from leadership positions.

Village Church hired the Castañeda and Heidelman law firm to conduct the investigation. The church has declined to release a copy of the firm’s report to the congregation, stating that the woman asked to maintain her privacy.

“Matt will spend time during his leave from the pulpit focusing on his development with the elders and guided by outside counselors,” the church told New York Times. “He will also continue to fulfill limited administrative leadership duties.” Fox News

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