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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.