Home Christian News Scott Sauls, Author and Nashville Pastor, Placed on Indefinite Leave of Absence

Scott Sauls, Author and Nashville Pastor, Placed on Indefinite Leave of Absence

Scott Sauls
Scott Sauls. Photo credit: scottsauls.com.

(RNS) — The Rev. Scott Sauls, an influential evangelical Christian pastor and author, has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the Nashville church he has pastored since 2012.

His leave was announced Sunday (May 7) during a member meeting at Christ Presbyterian, a prominent Presbyterian Church in America congregation.

In a video message to the congregation, Sauls apologized for an unhealthy leadership style that harmed the people who worked for him and the church.

“I verbalized insensitive and verbal criticism of others’ work,” he said, according to a recording of the meeting shared with Religion News Service. “I’ve used social media and the pulpit to quiet dissenting viewpoints. I’ve manipulated facts to support paths that I desire.”

RELATED: Scott Sauls: Why Your Brokenness Is Essential to Your Ministry

Sauls made clear he had not been involved in any sexual sin or substance abuse. He said that he would seek counseling and repentance during his leave and that he hoped to someday reconcile with the people he had harmed.

“I am grieved to say that I have hurt people,” he said. “I want to say to all of you that I am sorry.”

The leave comes after an investigation by Christ Presbyterian itself and by the Nashville Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.  That investigation was prompted by a letter sent from a number of former Christ Presbyterian staffers who raised concerns about Sauls’ conduct as a leader.

During Sunday’s Christ Presbyterian meeting, members also heard from the church’s elders, who said they hoped the leave would to healing and reconciliation.  The elders also admitted their own shortcomings in allowing an unhealthy culture on the church’s staff.

Sauls’ standing as a pastor will also be reviewed at an upcoming meeting of the Nashville Presbytery. According to the denomination’s rules, he is considered a “teaching elder” whose status as a minister is overseen by that local presbytery. That presbytery will have the final say over the length and conditions of Sauls’ leave.

Neil Spence, a PCA pastor and Stated Clerk of the Nashville Presbytery, said in an email that Sauls is a member of the group and in good standing.

RELATED: Scott Sauls: Facing Regret and Hurt in Ministry

He had no comment about Sauls’ situation when asked to confirm whether the Presbytery would address his status as a pastor. He did explain some of the presbytery’s processes.

“Nashville Presbytery will meet soon to deal with any matters properly brought before us,” he said in an email. “Presbytery as a whole will decide whether a censure such as suspension from office is warranted. It would be imprudent for me to try to predict what Presbytery will do.”