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Robert Morris Resigns as Overseer at Alabama Megachurch, Following Sex Abuse Allegations

By Julie Roys and Sheila Stogsdill
robert morris overseer
Pastor Robert Morris preaches at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. (Photo: Instagram)

Embattled Texas megachurch Pastor Robert Morris has resigned as an overseer at Church of the Highlands (COTH), the largest church in Alabama, following allegations he sexually molested a girl 40 years ago.

Morris remains a pastor at his Texas megachurch, Gateway Church. Repeated inquiries by The Roys Report (TRR) to Gateway have received no response.

In a statement released to former Baptist leader Wade Burleson, which was shared with TRR, COTH’s trustees, who are non-staff elders, stated that they were unaware of “this part of (Morris’) past.”

They added, “After being made aware of the disturbing media reports, Highlands trustees and overseers immediately initiated a due diligence process that included reaching out to Gateway’s elders. Before the scheduled follow-up meeting to determine changes in our governance structure, Pastor Morris resigned as an overseer of Church of the Highlands.”

The resignation comes on the heels of a bombshell confession that Morris allegedly sexually molested Cindy Clemishire, now a 54—year-old grandmother of three from Oklahoma.

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The molestation reportedly began in 1982, when Clemishire was 12, and continued for four years.

In a statement released last week to Gateway staff, Morris confessed to a decades-old “moral failure,” calling it “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a “young lady.”

Morris added that he stepped down from his ministry position in March 1987 and then returned to the ministry two years later after a restoration process.

Chris Hodges Robert Morris
Pastors Chris Hodges and Robert Morris appear in a 2023 Facebook post, announcing they’ll be speaking at each other’s churches.

COTH is the flagship church of the Association of Related Churches (ARC) pastored by Chris Hodges, a member of ARC’s Lead Team. Though Gateway has never officially been an ARC church, Morris has long served as an overseer of COTH. Morris and Hodges have also spoken at each other’s churches and at conferences and events sponsored by their respective organizations.

In 2015, Morris and Hodges appeared together on a panel at a Gateway Conference on “Restoring Fallen Leaders.” In that discussion, Morris said pastors should respond to fallen leaders with a “spirit of gentleness, considering ourselves lest we also be tempted.”

Hodges advised that fallen pastors need a “clear path” to restoration. Morris agreed, adding that fallen pastors also need assurance of “a goal” if they complete the process. “I’ve seen fallen leaders restored many, many, many times. It really can be done.”

As TRR has reported previously, Hodges’ church spent $4.5 million on a lodge to “restore” pastors, and Hodges has said restoring pastors is what he wants to be “known for.” Over the past few years, numerous ARC pastors have been embroiled in sexual scandals.

Robert Morris and Chris Hodges discuss restoring fallen pastors:

Shocking allegations of abuse

Morris’ alleged abuse happened in Oklahoma and Texas between 1982 and 1986 and was reported to Shady Grove Church in 1987, where Morris was the pastor.

Shady Grove, a church in Grand Prairie later became Gateway’s Grand Prairie campus.

In an interview with TRR, Clemishire accused Morris of touching her inappropriately and said the abuse escalated over four years to rape by instrumentation.

robert morris
As a youth evangelist in the 1980’s, Robert Morris preaches at Shady Grove Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. (Photo: Facebook)

Morris, 62, has not been criminally charged in either state.  The statute of limitations for Oklahoma has expired, but Texas recently passed a law stating there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and indecency with a child.

Morris admitted in a statement “in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying.” Morris described the behavior as “petting and not intercourse” and said it happened “on several occasions over the next few years.”

He added, “Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area.”

Morris added that he “confessed and repented of” his actions and stepped down from his ministry’s position for two years in March 1987. He said he also received counseling and returned to the ministry in two years later with the blessing of the “young lady’s” father.

However, Clemishire said her father did not “bless Morris returning to the ministry.”

“We are instructed to forgive – but that does not mean my father gave his blessing. He wanted to kill him,” Clemishire said.

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. Sheila Stogsdill is a freelance journalist and contributor to The Roys Report. 



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26 Responses

  1. The video posted above tragically asks the wrong question – it asks how a congregation should respond to a leader who falls. But, the question they should be asking is how should a leader who has fallen repent before that congregation, and how should the other leadership rush in to care for the sheep. If we would wake up and start caring for the sheep and putting their well being before the fallen leaders’ well being, healing might actually be able to happen. We need to stop allowing anyone in leadership who is in it for their own fulfillment. My God in Heaven, raise up shepherds who are actually in it because they care about the sheep, not themselves.

    1. Correct. He was an associate pastor there.

      However, Shady Grove Church later joined the Gateway Church organization as its Grand Prairie campus.

  2. “Morris described the behavior as ‘petting and not intercourse.'”

    A key missing detail from Robert Morris’ account was published on the Wartburg Watch blog on clergy SA:

    “Robert Morris repeated [his] behavior until March 1987. This would happen in Texas and Oklahoma, and the family would stay at the Morris home in Texas. Her father donated money to Robert’s ministry, not realizing what was happening to his daughter. Morris wanted to make out and engage in heavy petting…. Things changed when she turned sixteen. He would take her out in his car and attempt to have sexual intercourse. Once, he was fixing a vanity in his home and held up a screw and asked Cindy if she wanted to ‘do this.'”

    Criminal solicitation of a minor?!

      1. Correct.

        And when Trump was found by a unanimous jury of doing the same thing to E Jean Carol, the judge stated that it meets the legal definition of rape.

  3. Absolutely no surprise here. Morris has been a soft soft critic of fallen pastors as well as a money hungry teacher and ARC supporter. The fruit of his teaching has always been suspect if not just poor.

    1. What if he has lived a clean life ,the last forty years? You people are amazing.
      I know that actually righteous people are not so judgemental and intransigent.

      1. Who cares what Morris did and admitted to do to a child? Morris needs to go into court and if convicted go serve hard time. Makes me wonder what they have done it their past that they could be arrested for? You do not dismiss these kinds of crimes unless you are feeling really very guilty and very worried about your own past catching up to you.

      2. The truly amazing are those that can make excuses for grown adults abusing their power and taking advantage of children who cannot give consent. People like you are why thousands and thousands of people are leaving your dens of vipers!

  4. It’s good to see the real groomers exposed. Their accusations of others being groomers are just projection.

  5. “The molestation reportedly began in 1982, when Clemishire was 12, and continued for four years.” — “In a statement released last week to Gateway staff, Morris confessed to a decades-old “moral failure,” calling it “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a “young lady.””

    Interesting how Gateway (intentionally?) describes four years of repeated molestations (in the plural) as a (in the singular) “a decades-old ‘moral failure'”.

  6. I remember reading about the “rehabilitation” program and thinking “this will not turn out well”, and it occurs to me that if you start with the assumption that men will be restored to pastorates, then your “bias” is going to be to overlook certain behaviors. A true rehabilitation program will start with actually rooting out the evil, and only when that is done can one consider which areas in which one can work. There is a huge difference there.

  7. Because the children of the snake are in charge, nothing will actually happen here. He will “step away from ministry for a season.” Then the children will have him back. Those women who have been abused will leave his “Church.” Those men who are abusers themselves will stay and defend the Morris family because they all of the same brood of vipers. The man should be in jail but it is highly unlikely that will happen. In the end the way these situations end is there is practically speaking NEVER actual repentance. Morris will die and go straight to hell. If he did not then Jesus is a liar, but Robert is the liar, not King Jesus Christ.

    The only solution is for his fans worshipping him to repent and leave and get far away from the abuse. Replace their passion for Robert and Mammon for a real passion for being a real disciple of Jesus Christ. It is the followers, the sheep, who need to repent for malignant narcissist leaders just do not. I have been following these scandals for 10 years now and I have never, ever actually seen any high leader anywhere actually repent. Some lower level ones have but they are not on the boards and never had any authority to fix any of the very real problems.

  8. I am glad he resigned and hope he stays out of the limelight or tries to get another pastorate. It would be good for him to apologize publicly to what he did to this woman. Who knows how this has affected her life, her future relationships with men. He did a lot of damage to her and was supposed to be godly towards her.

    1. This was actually not his pastorate at Gateway Church. However, more recent reports have him resigning that position as well.

      He has had several major health issues nearly all his life, but three in the past year alone including open heart surgery. So most likely he will live off his investments.

  9. That word ‘repent’ keeps being used but none of you knows what it means. For starters, one cannot be a Christian if they have not repented. Repentance is a once-in-a-life-time, very emotional event. It cannot ne repeated. Heb. 6:4-6 The Holy Spirit is given only to those who have repented. Acts 2:38 The Greek word ‘metanoia’ means, change of mind. The state of changing any or all of the elements composing one’s life: attitude, thoughts, & behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living. Therefore, if your attitude was that a child of God could sin, then a change of mind could ONLY be the opposite of that. Nobody could dare to suggest that God’s view of ‘right living’ could allow for sin. Jn. 8:34, Eph. 5:1-11, 26-27. Darkness is ALWAYS related to sin, in a bible. All who ‘follow Jesus’ NEVER sin. Jn 8:12. To have one’s sins purified, one MUST walk in the light as He walks in the light. 1 Jn 1:5-7. Clearly that means one must cease sinning, which is the act of repentance. God tells us that loving Him is obeying Him. Do you believe that? Then when He commands repentance, it means there MUST not be even a hint of sin in any Christian, Eph. 5. Jesus gave us two options: repent or perish. Lk. 13:3 & 5. Sin ALWAYS results in death/perishing/destruction, Romans 6:23, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 2 Pet. 3:16, Rev. 21:6-8, 22:14-15
    Paul made it abundantly clear that sin must not be a part of a Christian’s life. Romans six & everywhere. He told those who had snuck into the church at Corinth to come back to their senses & stop sinning. 1 Cor. 15:34 If they did not hold to that, they had believed in vain. 1 Cor. 14:1-2

  10. Where is the emphasis on healing for the abused? I know from experience by several “ministers” and “relatives” of such type of sexual abuse towards me, beginning as a 4th grade child! This type of abuse opens a window into the soul of a person, and for me I still feel the “sting” of it when reading such reports. I’m 72 years old and went through much counseling, and other measures to be healed, and praise to the Lord He has helped me all along the way. I lost respect for Morris when I saw a YouTube clip of him teaching that “Jesus had to completely lay down His divinity to become a man.” I heard this “Jesus died spiritually” doctrine 40 years ago from Kenneth Hagin, and now Bill Johnson and Kenneth Copeland are spreading this heresy. I have proof of Johnson’s teachings in his book! I will never, ever believe my Lord Jesus died spiritually at any time. He was God, is God, and is to come, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega and my precious Lord Jesus Christ!

  11. Allegations? Did he not confess?

    The LORD shall continue to expose many false characters of the apostate church in just a matter of kronos & Kairos time.

    Hear o earth, Howl and lament! for I have seen 2 great evils in the church: this people have forsaken me, the fountain of living water; and have hewn for themselves broken cisterns that hold no water, saith the LORD.

    The church systems and her leaders are the broken cisterns. This people are led by fierce wolves who devour, greedy after gain; drunk on the blood of the slain. Waxen fat but they do not nourish the sheep properly.

    And the wounds of this people are grievous. Why is there no balm in Gilead that my people may get well? They ask of the revival. But how can the LORD pour out HIS Spirit in such unclean vessels? Shall I not visit their iniquities first with cleansing fire that purges and purifies the vessels?

    In todays parlance: the current church system needs to deconstruct what is not working first BEFORE one can reconstruct, and repair. THEN reformation must be in place before any true revival can be sustained and in turn affect durable heart transformation.

    LORD help HIS people- the remnant. For what is coming to the church. It can’t be prayed away. It must happen for to work its purpose. Amen.

    1. He told what is called a “half-truth”, a fancy name for a full lie.

      He admitted to the relationship, but said she was a “young lady”, not a minor.

  12. For years, I have prayed for someone to do a deep dive on ARC as a whole, but also on The Life Church Memphis. What people may not realize, is John Siebeling does a good job of keeping his name washed in Google, but he is a main participant in all major ARC votes that allow these pastors to come right back to the pulpit, never having missed a paycheck. Absolute zero transparency in EVERY ARC church plant. That’s why he lives in a $2 million home in Eads, TN that is 10k sq ft. My eyes have seen so much corruption that I’m baffled people can be so brainwashed. ARC doesn’t even pretend not to be a cult.

  13. Just curious. . .

    What other Churches/Organizations boast of having the Rev. Robert Morris as an overseer?

    I know Mark Driscoll’s church in Scottsdale claimed that at least for several years.

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