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Pastor of Orlando-Area Megachurch Quietly Divorces

By Sarah Einselen
Justin Dailey Stefanie
Justin Dailey, senior pastor of Action Church in Orlando, Florida, has quietly divorced his wife Stefanie in a court half the state away from his church. (Video screengrab / Facebook)

The pastor of Action Church—a Florida multi-site megachurch planted with the Association of Related Churches (ARC)—has quietly divorced his wife in a court half the state away from the Orlando-area church.

Justin Dailey, the lead pastor of Action Church, and his former wife, Stefanie Dailey, filed an uncontested dissolution of marriage in Dixie County, court records show.

The petition was filed June 3, 2021, in the rural county on the Gulf Coast in northern Florida, some three hours’ drive from the couple’s Seminole County address. The case was closed two months later, on August 5.

The court record lists Justin Dailey as the plaintiff and Stefanie Dailey as the defendant. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning courts do not assign fault to either partner during the divorce process. The state also permits residents to file in any county they agree on.

The Roys Report did not find an announcement by either Justin Dailey or Action Church, publicly acknowledging the dissolution. Action Church did not respond to a request for comment.

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Justin Dailey was 19 when he started attending ARC’s flagship Church of the Highlands (COTH) in Alabama in 2005. He also attended COTH’s ministry school, Highlands College.

He was in his early 20s when he and Stefanie married.

In 2008, the couple moved to Florida to pastor Bayside Community Church. Then Dailey partnered with the ARC to plant Action Church.

In an Action Church pre-launch post from June 2013, the Daileys specifically thanked ARC flagship congregation, Church of the Highlands: “Especially Chris Hodges, Pastor Layne Schranz, and Pastor Randy Bezet for everything you have taught (us), and for always supporting (us)!” they wrote.

According to the church’s website, Action officially launched on January 26, 2014, in Winter Springs, Florida. It’s since grown to four campuses in the Orlando area.

Stefanie Dailey was reportedly considered a pastor at Action Church alongside Justin Dailey.

The church states on its website that it has trustees, or non-staff elders, and overseers, other pastors who “may be called in to help in accountability matters relating to the Lead Pastor.” The website does not name the trustees or overseers.

State records show Dailey serves as the president of the incorporated entity and Nelsa Rivera, wife of Action campus pastor Eddie Rivera, is the secretary-treasurer.

ARC is one of the largest church planting organizations in North America. It’s also been embroiled in several recent scandals involving pastoral misconduct.

The Roys Report reached out to ARC to ask about Dailey and its policy on divorce, but ARC did not respond.

Justin Dailey is one of several ARC church pastors named in a recent lawsuit alleging they knew ARC’s former national director of church planting, Joshua Mauney, had a history of sexual misconduct.

The suit alleges Mauney raped and sexually assaulted his female assistant numerous times while leading a former ARC member church in Royal Palm Beach, Florida.

A second lawsuit claims COTH pastor Dino Rizzo failed to protect an intern after finding out she was sexually harassed by the pastor of Vibrant Church, an ARC church in Mississippi.

An ARC pastor in Tennessee is on sabbatical amid allegations of adultery and one in Houston resigned at the end of 2021 after confessing to adultery.

COTH also removed one of its pastors last July after a former assistant accused him of raping her at his previous church.

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



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18 Responses

  1. Presumably, most people at Action Church will not hear about the divorce or, when it happens, his remarriage; they will be gaslighted into believing the new wife has always been his wife. While the following statement is admittedly broad, ARC seems to have a serious problem hiring pastors who care about biblical behavior.

    1. Since they divorced quietly they knew they were doing something wrong. I would think a pastor getting divorced would be worth a comment about it on Sunday Morning.

    2. The church family addressed it as it was happening last year and have been transparent with the congregation as needed. It’s family business. Gossiping about a community of which you aren’t a part doesn’t help anyone.

      1. How can reporting the truth and facts be considered gossip, especially within the Scripture grounds that elders are to be publicly rebuked for their sin in order to discourage others from sinning? “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning” (1 Timothy 5:20).

        “Action Church” is not living up to its name through its failure to follow Scripture.

      2. If someone is a Christian they ARE a part of your family — we are the body of Christ. Every Christian is a stakeholder…and the stakes are high. It’s shocking and grievously sad to see this kind of sinful behavior white-washed. Jesus does not think highly of white-wash (Matt 23:27-28).

    1. No, it’s not. Gossip is: “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” This is a true report, corroborated by court documents and other sources.

  2. From Action Church’s website on their beliefs:
    Biblical Marriage is clearly defined as one man (born a man) united with one woman (born a woman) for life……

    Uh-oh Justin must have forgotten.

  3. Dear Julie:

    Thanks for always bringing the truth to light. Here is something that I need to say that I hope is meaningful. I am a Black Minister, and in my culture and community, I’ve seen many, many scandals down through the years, primarily due to the leadership make-up of the Black Church. Admittedly, I have always respected the White Church’s way of handling the scandals that occurred in their Churches. They generally don’t put up with Ministerial misconduct, but it appears that in this generation they allow unfit Ministers to lead in their Churches. What I have noticed in the last 5-10 years is the number of scandals amongst young White Ministers, and I’ve wondered why that is. Is there an accountability issue in the White Church these days? And why do they get to stay in their positions of leadership despite their gross sinful conduct? I’m use to that being the case in Black Churches, but not in White Churches, especially in the older generation. Any insight would be appreciated.

    1. There is a huge accountability issue in the evangelical church, whether predominantly Black, white, Asian, etc… I think each culture has nuances, which are unique to their particular context. But the rise of celebrity pastors, megachurches, and the money-driven evangelical industrial complex has proven fertile ground for corruption and abuse of many kinds. What’s happening in evangelical churches today is truly shocking and bears little resemblance to the humble, godly church in which I was raised. I shudder what will happen to the next generation without reform and revival on a massive scale.

    2. Toleration of ministerial misconduct occurs quite a bit in white churches–just look up names like Jack Hyles to figure that out. I do think it’s changed a bit in “white” churches as the churches get bigger and pastors get to be more “indispensable.” Hence you start to tolerate behavior because nobody else can fill the pews and the budget. There is also the phenomenon of “touch not God’s Anointed”, by which certain pastors hold off criticism by suggesting they have prophetic authority.

      Side note; it pains me to even write “white” church. Would love it if someone would come and tell us what we might be doing inadvertently to induce minorities not to come. Let’s worship together.

      1. “Would love it if someone would come and tell us what we might be doing inadvertently to induce minorities not to come. Let’s worship together.”

        Perhaps you could go to the churches where they already worship.

  4. Hi Mr Cooper,
    First of all I respect black pastors, my favorite being Tony Evans and loved EV HIll. I can’t answer all the reasons but as a laymen I believe some of the reasons are as follows;

    1. Immaturity, many of these guys are young and aren’t seasoned. They are proud and arrogant. The rules don’t apply to them. They are God’s anointed!
    2. I personally think that these pastors think their parishioners are dumb or don’t care.
    You add the above with poor biblical , weak preaching and you can get away with anything.
    3. Lack of oversight, both denominational and local. They don’t have elders and if they do, they are yes men or relatives who don’t have the courage to confront.

    I am sure there are more reasons than above. Pray for our churches sir, we need help. I guess you may have heard that Lacrae has left the institutional church because of the lack of concern for racism. I believe the white evangelical church has the same problems as your black churches Mr. Cooper.

    1. Can confirm – we were long term members at two ARC churches. Oversight is utterly ineffective or non-existent – no true accountability. ARC founders bring into its’ DNA their own adultery, with no apparent amends, care, or restitution of their victims, but are held up as wise, seasoned pastors of integrity. “Leadership” as a concept, and as a position, is pretty much an idol.

      Young couples, who believe themselves to be called, will take ARC’s $50,000 bounty and if they can hit all ARC’s metrics – # attendance, conversions/baptisms, etc – believe those results define being pleasing to God. It looks more like a model created after a commercial (capitalistic) franchise model, not one originating from God’s heart. I started calling it “Church-fil-a franchising.” They also didn’t seem to trust us “old” folks (over 45!) even though we’d been at it for 25 years, b/c they have their ARC advisors/playbook who know better (you know, those 30ish ‘experienced’ pastors).

      After two pastors had affairs – one not repenting and not trying to reconcile, and the other playing it off in toxic positivity “oopsie” – it was obvious to us that the ARC culture and structure/governance is broken. But they are so arrogantly sure they are right in the middle of God’s will it’s maddening, and heartbreaking.

      I agree with Julie – reform and revival need to happen – and where there is no repentance and little humility, there is little hope anything changes.

  5. When I was a little kid I remember a pastor at out church got divorced. When he wanted to get re-married our denomination would not permit that. He ended up becoming a pastor in the United Methodist church and got remarried.

    That seems like a hundred years ago……

    A few observations…

    1. Very few evangelical churches would prevent divorced individuals from getting re-married. If an individual church does prevent it, the couple just has to find another evangelical church to marry them. It’s called “working the system”…….

    2. It seems like the U.S. evangelical church trails the liberal main-line churches by 2 or 3 decades in terms of social mores….. oh…. that means most evangelicals churches will accept homosexuality in a couple decades……

    3. Most evangelical churches today would allow a divorced pastor to get remarried….. what is good for the goose is good for the gander….

    4. A pastor at my friend’s very large evangelical church had to announce that individuals should be divorced before they start dating other individuals………(divorce decrees can take time…..)

    The U.S. evangelical church in wanting to be so popular has lost its moral voice….

    As someone cynically mentioned it’s all about “nickels and noses”…..

  6. Wow. How is Dino Rizzo still a Pastor after his affair was exposed at Healing Place church years ago?? God help us!!

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