Chris Conlee, the founder and lead pastor of Highpoint Church in Memphis, has resigned. Conlee initially supported Andy Savage, the former associate pastor at the church, following the revelation that Savage had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old while he was youth pastor at a Texas church 20 years ago.
The church sent a statement to members on Wednesday saying, “Over the last couple months, Chris and the trustees have been praying and discussing the direction and future of our church. We have arrived at a point of respectfully agreeing to go in different directions for the kingdom. We love and respect each other.
“After much prayer and counsel, the Trustees and Chris have mutually agreed that the time is now for Chris to pass the baton. This will enable us to recalibrate our search for a new Teaching Pastor in the search for a Senior Pastor.”
“It’s a relief that Pastor Conlee resigned his position at Highpoint Church, and it allows Highpoint a new beginning after a difficult period of time,” said Julia Dahl, a founding member.
“In his own words from the pulpit in January, Chris Conlee disclosed he had known about Andy Savage‘s conduct prior to inviting Andy to co-found or lead in Highpoint Church,” said Dahl. “With that knowledge, Chris elected to do nothing to protect that victim of sexual assault.”
Meanwhile, Jules Woodson, the woman who accused Savage of sexual assault, told WATN-TV that she was shedding “good tears” thanks to the news. She also said the news was the “high point of her birthday,” which coincided with the release of Conlee’s resignation. “This was the right decision,” she told the TV station.
“I would say the majority of the core group of members who have been going here since the beginning have sustained the church through each season,” Drew O’Brien, a church member, told WREG-TV,” adding, “We are hopeful for the future.”
It was reported that Conlee would say more to the church on Sunday.