Hope City Church in Houston, Texas—once touted as the “fastest-growing church in American history”—has just announced that its pastor, Jeremy Foster, has resigned due to an adulterous affair.
Foster’s resignation is the latest in a series of scandals linked to the Association of Related Churches (ARC), one of the largest church planting organizations in North America.
“This week, Pastor Jeremy Foster has confessed to an extramarital affair with a woman not affiliated with Hope City,” Mark Briggs, a Hope City overseer and pastor of Riverpark Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, announced in a YouTube video. Briggs added that Foster would be replaced by Pastors Daniel and Jackie Groves, and he encouraged people to continue supporting the church’s mission.
“Your campus pastor is still your campus pastor,” Briggs said in the video posted January 1. “Your campus is still your campus. And the vision is still the vision. And most of all, God is still your God.”
The announcement regarding Foster’s affair and resignation is posted on the church’s website but not its Facebook account. The resignation is not mentioned at Foster’s personal website or on any of Foster’s social media accounts, which were still active when this article was published.
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Hope City was planted as an ARC member church in 2015. Within four years, attendance at Hope City had grown to about 12,000, and the church reportedly had baptized more than 30,000 people, according to Ministry Solutions.
The church also has developed a large social media presence with 165,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube combined. Foster has an even larger social media presence, with more than 231,000 Instagram followers and more than 124,000 followers on Facebook.
Foster says on his website that he was “raised in a family of preachers and cowboys.” He adds that after trying “everything from singing in a rock ‘n’ roll band to bull riding to starting his own business,” he went into ministry.
Foster’s affair follows a string of scandals and lawsuits involving pastors associated with ARC churches.
Just last month, eight employees resigned from Venue Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after confronting Lead Pastor Tavner Smith with allegations he was having an affair. Venue was started as an ARC church, and like Hope City, Venue was once one of America’s fastest growing churches.
Last July, Micahn Carter was removed as a pastor at Church of the Highlands, a flagship ARC church in Alabama, after Carter’s former assistant accused him of raping her at Carter’s previous ARC church in Yakima, Washington.
ARC pastors in Florida and Mississippi have also resigned amid accusations of rape or sexual harassment. These pastors and ARC are named in two recent lawsuits, alleging negligence and coverup concerning the pastors’ reported crimes against women.
In keeping with ARC’s model, Hope City is governed by a board of overseers comprised of pastors at other ARC churches around the country.
According to the recent YouTube video, Mitch Rose, pastor at City Hills Church, an ARC church in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, also serves on Hope City’s Board of Overseers with Mark Briggs.
Hope City’s Board of Overseers is not listed at Hope City’s website. The Roys Report reached out to Hope City, asking for a complete list of members of its Board of Overseers, but the church did not immediately respond.
Yesterday, the church launched a 21-day prayer and fasting initiative, which Interim Lead Pastors Daniel and Jackie Groves announced in a video on Facebook.
The Groves did not mention the moral fall and resignation of Jeremy Foster. Instead, they said they were “excited” about the new initiative, which they believe will help people “go deeper” with the Holy Spirit and remove distractions.
Pastor Briggs similarly encouraged people to participate in the prayer and fasting initiative, stating in the YouTube video announcement, “There’s no better time to press into the heart of God.”
Briggs did not mention future plans for Foster. However, ARC and Church of the Highlands are known for attempts to restore pastors who have fallen morally. Church of the Highlands is currently building a $4.5 million lodge expressly for “pastors that need rest or restoration.”
In what was likely a nod to ARC leadership, Briggs added, “We’re navigating these difficult and unchartered waters with stellar counsel from leaders who love and believe in the mission of Hope City.”
*This article has been corrected to add that Hope City has posted an announcement about Foster’s resignation at its website.