Home Christian News Liam Goligher, Influential PCA Pastor, Resigns After Past Arrest Made Public

Liam Goligher, Influential PCA Pastor, Resigns After Past Arrest Made Public

Liam Goligher
The Rev. Liam Goligher preaches at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia in 2022. (Video screen grab)

(RNS) — The pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church — an influential Presbyterian Church in America congregation — resigned after a past arrest for improper conduct along with another church leader was made public.

Liam Goligher, who had been pastor of Tenth since 2011, resigned on Dec. 1, according to a statement from the church. His resignation was first reported by Ministry Watch, a nonprofit evangelical watchdog group.

Goligher was arrested in 2014, along with a female church leader, and was cited for “personal conduct” in a public park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The term “personal conduct,” Lancaster police told Ministry Watch, can refer to “lewd or sexual behavior.” The pastor’s arrest was made public recently by Anglican Watch, an abuse watchdog website.

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Tenth Presbyterian confirmed Goligher’s resignation in a statement to Ministry Watch and said it had no details about the pastor’s arrest aside from what was found in public court documents.

“This has been difficult news for the Tenth community,” a church spokesman said in a statement. “The formal dissolution of the pastoral relationship will be conducted according to the polity of the Presbyterian Church in America.”

According to denominational rules, the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian has to vote on whether to accept Goligher’s resignation. Then the PCA’s Philadelphia Presbytery, which oversees pastoral conduct, will vote on ending his tenure at the church at the next presbytery meeting in January, said the Rev. Ryan Egli, pastor of City Line Church and moderator of the presbytery. The presbytery will also address reports of Goligher’s alleged misconduct at a meeting next week.

“The Presbytery is obligated under the denomination’s governing policies to follow up those reports with due diligence and great discretion,” Egli told Religion News Service in an email. “The Presbytery will be considering those matters in a special meeting called for next week. As such, no member of the Philadelphia Presbytery can comment on potential or current judicial cases against ministers in the Presbytery.”

The Rev. Liam Goligher delivers a recent evening prayer video on Tenth Presbyterian Church social media. (Video screen grab)

A native of Scotland, Goligher was pastor of Duke Street Church in London before coming to Tenth Presbyterian in 2011. He previously led churches in Canada, Ireland and Scotland and had a television and radio ministry in the U.K., according to a bio prepared by the committee that recommended him as Tenth’s pastor.

“Tenth has a strategic role to play in serving the kingdom in the city, the nation and the world. Its strong pulpit ministry, its multiple ministries which have earned the respect of many, and the rich resource of its membership spread throughout the region give it a unique opportunity to get the gospel out in ways denied to other churches,” he told the congregation in a letter before coming to Tenth.