‘Harsh’ Pastor Ousted from Ohio Megachurch Returns to Pulpit in Florida

By Sarah Einselen
Tim Armstrong ousted megachurch ohio
Interim pastor Tim Armstrong preaches at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Riverview, Florida on March 13, 2022. (Video screengrab)

Less than a year after Tim Armstrong resigned from an Ohio megachurch over allegations of intimidation and bullying, he’s back in ministry—this time, at a megachurch in Florida.

Armstrong was forced to resign from The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, last August and an independent probe later confirmed he had a harsh leadership style and “pattern of sin.” Since stepping down, Armstrong has not admitted wrongdoing or apologized.

Recently, Armstrong announced he is the transitional pastor at the Riverview Campus of Bell Shoals Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist multi-site megachurch in the Tampa suburbs.

“If you’ve not met me, I’m the transitional pastor for the next few months as Pastor Corey and his team are working to bring a new campus pastor here,” Armstrong said from the pulpit at the March 13 service at the Riverview Campus. “It’s my honor, really, to be able to be here with you and serve in this role.”

His sermon that day drew from Ephesians 5 and called wives to submit to their husbands. The following Sunday, March 20, he preached on children obeying their parents. Other guest speakers have filled the pulpit since then, church video archives show.

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Armstrong had also been a guest speaker at Riverview Campus about a month before announcing his new role there. In his February 13 message, he said he and his family had moved from Ohio to Florida in November 2021 and had recently started attending Bell Shoals Church.

Last November, Armstrong’s former church announced that third-party investigators had substantiated “a pattern of sin” in Armstrong’s behavior, The Roys Report reported previously. That pattern reportedly included demanding unquestioning obedience from subordinates.

Despite the findings, Armstrong apparently remains on the board of trustees at Cedarville University. Corey Abney, lead pastor of the 8,000-member Florida megachurch, also serves as a Cedarville trustee, according to the university’s website.

The Roys Report reached out to Armstrong as well as Abney and another Bell Shoals pastor for comment, but none of them responded. A spokesman for Cedarville University didn’t respond when The Roys Report emailed, either.

Representatives of the Florida Baptist Convention and the Tampa Bay Baptist Association didn’t respond when The Roys Report emailed to ask if they were aware of Armstrong’s hiring or history. Bell Shoals Church is a member of both organizations.

A former employee at the Ohio megachurch said she was profoundly disappointed by Armstrong’s hiring. Vicki Caswell was suddenly fired from her job at The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, while Armstrong was senior pastor there, she previously told The Roys Report.

“My heart sank when I saw that Tim Armstrong is currently in another pastoral position in Florida,” Caswell wrote in an email to The Roys Report. “It’s not that he shouldn’t be able to make a living. But after the harsh and horrible way he treated staff and others in his ‘care’ for 7 years, this should disqualify him from a shepherding role. He does not have an ounce of a shepherd’s heart.”

She added Armstrong “has exhibited abusive power patterns for years, and is neither remorseful nor repentant over it.”

“It’s a story on repeat for churches,” she wrote. “A pastor leaves behind a carnage of victims at one church and is welcomed into the next unwitting or uncaring church.”

Bell Shoals Riverview is the second Tampa-area Southern Baptist church to make headlines this week for bringing on a leader with a history of misconduct.

Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater and a leading candidate for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, announced last Friday that one of the church’s deacons was stepping down. The deacon is a former public school teacher who left teaching in 2005 after admitting to having sex with an 18-year-old student.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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18 thoughts on “‘Harsh’ Pastor Ousted from Ohio Megachurch Returns to Pulpit in Florida”

  1. Wow. I’m am so amazed at story after story after story of malignant narcissist in too many of these mega fiefdoms. They aren’t churches. They are fiefdoms and we all know you don’t challenge the king. I can’t see myself putting up with two seconds of what people tolerate for years. I am trying to say this respectfully but where’s the backbone of these employees or are they that desperate to have a job. Or has the king convinced them challenging one of gods king is a sure fire way straight to hell. I really don’t understand and I’m sure scripture is used as a WMD to keep the employees in line. And that says that no discernment exists in there lives. Very sad because it seems to be everywhere.

    1. Dont forget he was run out of his church in Ohio for being a bully. So it looks like somebody had enough of him.

      1. Please send that same “independent probe” to Bell Shoals and have them look into Corey Abney. He didn’t respond because he’s friends with Tim, on the same board and his methods are the exact same! Corey threatens and bully’s staff as well as tells people they will SUFFER CONSEQUENCES and to REPENT TO HIM AND NOT GOD. He also just shut down one of its campuses that is a 95 year old Southern Baptist Church and a staple in the community and where people come for love, healing, food, clothes and prayers. He put all its members on the streets for money. This past Sunday was the first Sunday this church has not been open on a Sunday and it’s members met in a park and will be doing so again and his week. It’s sickening and we as a church body need help before he destroys all of Bell Shoals.

    1. Joy Gail Manda

      I do know that Bell Shoals is doing a series on Ephesians and the two sermon topics were predetermined and preached at the other campuses to;, Armstrong did not choose them. I heard Pastor Corey handle the same subjects at the Brandon campus.

    2. Darren Gruett

      I also thought it was interesting that he preached on wives being submissive to their husbands and children being submissive to their parents, but not about husbands being submissive to Christ.

  2. When I read stories like this it makes me wonder if these churches perform any due diligence on those they bring to these positions. Certainly in this age of electronic media they cannot make the excuse that there is no way they could have known of his track record.

    1. Kevin Van Dyck

      Good point. It doesn’t take FBI-level skills to simply google somebody. When I searched “Pastor Tim Armstrong,” the first two results talked about what happened in Ohio.

      This brings up some obvious questions for his new church:

      -Did you make absolutely no attempt whatsoever to learn anything at all about a pastor you were bringing in?

      -Were you aware of the allegations and the investigation, and simply chose not to believe any of it?

      -Did you believe it, but just didn’t think it was a serious issue?

      -Did you think it was a serious issue, but didn’t believe there should be an appropriate period of time and training/counseling before this man should ever be put in a pastoring position again?

      1. Very good questions!! Tim is good friends with Corey and they both threaten and bully. That’s why he was hired!!!! It’s awful and we just want to be free of Corey. He closed down our church and has threatened staff to not speak to us. We are on the streets.

  3. So is it that bully pastors are irresistably drawn to submission scriptures…or is it that these submission scriptures are creating bully pastors?
    “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit…”

  4. We the body of Christ give too much grace to the leaders. I have heard some of these people talk. If you’re not grounded and confident in your walk with Christ, these charlatans can convince you that god is speaking thru them and how dare you challenge the word of knowledge that is flowing from god to me to you. My question is always, why isn’t god sharing the same message to me? My favorite, good old baker once said, (You will answer to god all you doubters of his prophets and the messages we bring.) WHAT are you serious and how many Christians shuddered and went quiet. The moment someone tells me they speak for god and I am to not challenge there holiness my first thought is “wolf sheep’s clothing leave and don’t look back they Gods problem not mine”.

    1. We’ve been told by the lead pastor Corey Abney whom is friends with Tim Armstrong that we are to repent to him and not god. :(

  5. Michelle Hopkins

    I graduated in 1989 from Cedarville College with Tim Armstrong. I did not know him personally as I did not cross paths with him in any classes nor did we have any mutual friends. It is disappointing to read that a fellow graduate of Cedarville College was abusive to his church staff and congregation. I remember that a few of the young men that claimed to be “called” into the seminary by our Savior, Jesus behaved as though they responded to not Christ’s calling but their own. One of my first influences in my childhood was my pastor. He was a loving, kind, and trustworthy leader. After I became a follower of Christ at the age of six, he visited my home a few times to talk with me about baptism. I was scared of water at that time but it was his positive, gentle way that made all the difference in helping me decide to be obedient in baptism at such a young age. I read that the lead pastor, Corey Abney and Tim Armstrong are trustees of Cedarville University. With that similar connection it is not surprising that the lead pastor would invite Tim Armstrong into his church. It is disappointing though.

  6. Melissa Oufaaiz

    Corey Abney needs to be investigated as well! He is exhibiting some of the same actions as Tim Armstrong. He tries to intimidate and belittle anybody that doesn’t fall in line with his requirements. How can we get in touch with the investigator that investigated Tim Armstrong? We need help!

  7. Jennifer BrownPerez

    I personally would like to talk with the instigator… Corey Abney is doing the same thing as this Gentleman. He is verbally attacking the ones that do not agree with him by going after them, their parenting, their friends and family and ending a reply with the ✌️sign. I have it all saved if the investigator would like to reach out to me.

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