Before Smith began preaching, he said, “I’ve really been praying about this moment and the Lord’s done a lot in me over the past month.” Smith then read an apology he had written down.
Smith told those in attendance that he didn’t want what he was reading to come across as something he was just reading, but that it was his heart. The pastor explained that he wrote it out so his words would be real and was afraid if he spoke off script he’d “rabbit-trail” and get off point. “I want you to hear my heart,” he said.
“Venue Church, I just wanted to start by saying that I am so honored to be back with you today,” Smith read as a few could be heard affirming the pastor’s statement with loud shouts.
Smith warned that he might get emotional as he read, “I also wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your kind words and your encouragement in these last few weeks. I believe this with my whole heart—you truly are the greatest people I’ve ever met in my life.”
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and pray and seek God,” Smith continued. “The Lord has transformed me over these last couple of years in massive ways. And as I’ve been looking back, I don’t even recognize many of the parts of who I was. The last month, specifically, the Lord’s taken me on a painful journey of realizing and repenting of the role that I’ve played and the hurt that I’ve caused to you in this church.”
“I’ve just come to say I’m sorry,” the pastor shared.
“So many things I’ve said and that I’ve done and that I’ve not said and that I’ve run from were wrong,” Smith said. “I was involved in an inappropriate relationship, and I want to say to you that I’m sorry that I put you though any embarrassment, heartache, or confusion. I’ve wounded people and I’ve caused devastation that I know I can’t ever take back. And as your leader and pastor, I come to you to publicly acknowledge my mistakes and truly ask for forgiveness.”
Continuing to thank the church for standing with him through the storm, Smith said, “It grieves me to think that my pride and my selfishness could have caused anyone hurt. Through this last month in my counseling and my time with the Lord, I’ve made commitments to put my focus on the Lord, my family, this church, and my health as my top priorities. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing through the storm and the pain.”
“I am committed to love you and serve you better than I ever have before, and I ask you for your grace and patience as we move forward together,” Smith said, going on to explain that he wouldn’t be sharing all the details regarding his story. “Not every part of my story will be shared right away. Maybe some never—but out of deep respect for everyone involved, I take full responsibility that my actions were wrong and hurtful.”