Bellevue Terminates Embattled Minister

WMC [Memphis TN]
January 22, 2007

The embattled minister at the center of a scandal that has garnered national attention has been terminated by Bellevue Baptist Church, according to a news release issued this afternoon.

After 34 years as a minister at Bellevue, Paul Williams learned Monday his long career was over. Williams and his 'moral failure' - as it was described by church leaders - was apparently too heavy a burden for the church's leadership to carry any longer.

"The decision was made because of the nature of his past activities, even though there had been no evidence of any of those continued activities for the last 17 years," said David Coombs, the Administrative Pastor who headed the investigation for Bellevue.

Ousted minister Paul Williams
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Coombs says the exact nature of those past activities will be revealed on Sunday.

But in the last several weeks, two websites critical of Head Pastor Steve Gaines posted allegations that Williams sexually abused a child 17 years ago.

The Department of Children's Services is also investigating.

"So was this done to protect children at church?" asked Action News 5 Reporter Syan Rhodes. "No," said Coombs. "We feel like the church and the congregation has been well protected for all these years, even currently."

"We just felt that the sensitive nature of a church dealing with church family and children, it was important to be above reproach in the staff that we employ," he said.

Williams may be off the staff, but Bellevue is still under scrutiny, with some members wondering why he wasn't fired six months ago when Pastor Gaines says he first learned of the matter.

Stay tuned to WMCTV.COM and Action News 5 for the very latest on this developing story.


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