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Reporting the Truth.
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Pastor Albert Tate on Leave of Absence For ‘Inappropriate’ Texts and Comments

By Julie Roys
albert tate Fellowship Monrovia
Albert Tate recently took a leave of absence from Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, Calif., for "inappropriate texts and questionable comments." (Photo: Facebook) 

Author and well-known pastor, Albert Tate, has been placed on a leave of absence by his church board for “inappropriate text messages and questionable comments.”

Tate is the founding and lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, Calif., and a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. He’s also the author of two books and founder of The Greatest Story, Inc.

On September 24, Fellowship Monrovia Board Chairman George Selah made a statement about Tate’s leave of absence to the church, which has since been posted online.

In the statement, Selah said that Tate’s leave “follows an initial review by the board and outside experts concerning inappropriate text messages and questionable comments he has made.”

Selah’s statement did not give an expected duration for Tate’s leave of absence. However, Selah added, “We believe in grace, accountability, and the redemptive power of Christ. Therefore, we see this leave of absence as a necessary time for Albert to engage in a period of reflection, spiritual guidance, and restoration.”

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A follow-up email from the board to the congregation, obtained by The Roys Report (TRR), further stated: “(T)his is not an abandonment of our Senior Pastor but a manifestation of our church’s core values—values that underscore the importance of integrity, responsibility, and spiritual growth.”

The email also stated, “God’s church is bigger than any one person. That commitment will guide all of our decisions and recommendations.”

Albert Tate Fellowship Monrovia
Albert Tate preaches at Fellowship Monrovia on Dec. 24, 2017. (Source: Twitter)

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out via email to Fellowship Monrovia for more details about Tate’s leave of absence but did not hear back. TRR also reached out to Tate for comment, but he did not respond.

TRR reached out to Willow Creek, asking how the news impacts Tate’s role there, but the church did not reply by time of publication. Tate remains listed as a teaching pastor on Willow’s website.

The announcement at Fellowship Monrovia comes during a period of transition at the church. Over the summer, three Fellowship Monrovia Pastors resigned.

Michael Field Fellowship Monrovia
Michael Field (Video screengrab)

Chief of Staff Michael Field, whose been at the church since its founding in 2012, resigned in July. And Campus Pastor Brandan Spencer and his wife, worship leader and Teaching Pastor Tiana Spencer, resigned at the end of August.

In a letter to the congregation obtained by TRR, Field expressed deep love for the church. He did not give a reason for resigning but simply said that he and his wife “feel clarity from God that this beautiful season has come to an end.”

Brandan Tiana Spencer, Fellowship Monrovia
Brandan and Tiana Spencer (Courtesy Photo)

Similarly, in the Spencers’ letter to the congregation obtained by TRR, the couple said they were “heartbroken” to leave but felt God was calling them “into a new season.”

TRR called the church and spoke briefly with Middle School Pastor Sam Aguirre about the pastors’ resignations. Aguirre said she couldn’t comment on why the pastors have left. However, she indicated that more pastors were in the process of exiting the church and that she was “one of those pastors being impacted.”

In addition to his role at Fellowship Church, Tate also serves on the board of the Global Leadership Network (GLN).

GLN Senior VP of Church and Market Engagement Dave Thornton told TRR that GLN is aware of Tate’s leave of absence. Thornton added, “We are praying for Albert, his family, and his church and are in conversation with him and his church board to determine appropriate next steps for the GLN.”

Tate also had been on the board at Azusa Pacific University and a church planting group, called Stadia, but is no longer listed on either organization’s website.

Rachel White, executive director of strategic communication at Azusa Pacific, said Tate stepped off the board in August, citing a busy schedule involving a new book and speaking engagements. White said Azusa Pacific was not aware of the issues that led to Tate’s leave of absence at the time of his resignation.

However, Stadia responded, “At Stadia’s request, Albert Tate resigned from the Stadia board on Saturday 9/30 to allow himself time for healing and full restoration to ministry.”

Tate is the author of Disobedient God: Trusting a God Who Goes Off-Script and How We Love Matters: A Call to Practice Relentless Racial Reconciliation.

According to his online biography, Tate began his ministry pastoring a few families at Sweet Home Church in Mississippi. He then served at the historic Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, Calif., before launching Fellowship Monrovia, a multi-ethnic church, multi-generational church, in 2012.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from Azusa Pacific University that came shortly after publication. Also, on Wednesday, Willow Creek sent an email to congregants, including an “update on Albert Tate.” It stated:

Over the weekend, we learned that Albert Tate was on a leave of absence from his church, Fellowship Monrovia. We have reached out to Fellowship’s leadership and Albert to learn more and determine the best path forward. For the time being, we have paused Albert’s teaching opportunities at Willow in order to honor this process. 

We don’t know many details other than what Fellowship shared publicly, but as a church, we know the confusion, pain, and healing required after situations like these. Please be praying for all involved, that they would have the wisdom and discernment to listen well, love deeply, and make decisions that ultimately lead to a path of reconciliation.

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals. 

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24 Responses

  1. God’s “restoration” is not the same as repentance. People with these tendencies rarely “repent” but are just sorry they got caught. These things charachterological fixations and addictions that include pedophilia and serial adultery.

    1. If our brother is wrong, he is wrong. There is consequences to sin. I weep inside my heart for him, his family and the church. Success and “power” is as dangerous as covetness. BUT Galatians commands us to restore and look to ourselves less we too be tempted. Maybe not with a similar sin but pride, and self righteous judgement, etc..
      All pastors with influential ministries need very high accountability to protect them but not control them..
      May we not cast stones but go and sin no more.
      Please God l, in your mercy heal, restore and repair this brokenness. Amen
      Donald Burlock ThM
      Doctoral Candidate, AquI as Institute of Theology

    2. What do you mean by ” people with these tendencies?” and use words like pedophillia and serial adultery?

  2. I know Albert personally and we live in the same neighborhood and Pastor in the same region/area. While I’m not sure what has happened, I’ve learned over the years that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing surprises me when it comes to the messy side of Ministry!

  3. As someone who knows all of the parties concerned and the specifics of the situation, Fellowship Monrovia is covering up an egregious situation. Five of the most senior leaders have resigned. There are NDA’s involved. This has nothing to do with ‘inappropriate texts and comments’. Another church cover up, which will destroy his family, the leaders who walked away and many congregants.

    1. Would you be willing to share some parts of what you know? I attend Fellowship, and was concerned about leaders leaving this summer but never imagined it would lead to this.

      One of the most frustrating things about churches these days is keeping so much hidden from the congregation. They should know more about what happened, especially since it seems like Fellowship wants Albert back at some point.

      1. Rebecca Demeter: I agree with you. It is very strange that so many pastors have resigned. It is obvious that something is going on that needs to be uncovered.

    2. Hi David Samuels.

      You rock.

      Please take good care of yourself. Please brace yourself for really terrifying amounts of pushback.

  4. I have been a Christian for over 40 years, have attended Fellowship, and facilitated an Alpha group this year. I grieved upon reading Fellowship’s Board Chairman’s statement about Senior Pastor Albert Tate’s misconduct. I emailed to Fellowship at [email protected] my extensive reply. Among other things, my reply said that the Chairman’s statement reflects that the Board believes Senior Pastor Albert Tate sinned. That being the case, I indicated that, as part of the Scriptural restoration of Senior Pastor Albert Tate, he should be “rebuke[d] before all” per 1 Timothy 5:20. The Board’s statement and my reply may be found at https://kerobersonsrltrtofellowshipchurch.blogspot.com/.

    1. Hi Kenneth Roberson,

      I see your letter is dated 13 October. The Fellowship leadership have been promising to reply to all questions within 72 hours. May I ask–have they replied to you? If so, will you publish the reply?

      Thanks

      Benjamin Ady

  5. David Samuels,

    How are you privy to the specifics of the situation? What rile do you play at our church and why haven’t you shared with all of us?

    1. There’s a new staff letter circulating
      Please send your email if you’re interested in receiving the facts about what’s really been going on. The board has been protecting all information.

  6. I attended the Town Hall last night. I respect your attempt to find the truth. Today, I tried to sign up for you newsletter, but it would not go through. I hope there are updates. Please add me!

    1. I live out of state and was unable to attend the Town Hall. I have not found any information about it online. Would you mind sharing what was said?

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