Albert Tate, the charismatic founder and leader of the Evangelical Fellowship Church, which draws thousands of people to worship every Sunday at Monrovia High School in Los Angeles County, California, has been placed on a leave of absence over "inappropriate text messages and questionable comments."
In a statement recently published on its website, the church revealed that George Saleh, chairman of Fellowship's board, told the congregation on Sept. 24 that the decision to place Tate on leave followed a review by the board and "outside experts."
"Myself, the senior staff, and the Board feel it is important that I share with you that our Senior Pastor Albert Tate, will be taking a leave of absence. This decision follows an initial review by the board and outside experts concerning inappropriate text messages and questionable comments he has made," Saleh said.
"We believe in grace, accountability, and the redemptive power of Christ. Therefore, we see this leave of absence as a necessary time for Albert to engage in a period of reflection, spiritual guidance, and restoration. The Board and senior staff are committed to supporting Albert and his family through this season where we are all seeking clarity and the right steps forward."
Saleh stressed that the leave of absence should not be viewed as an "abandonment" of Tate.
"Let us be clear, this is not an abandonment of our Senior Pastor but a manifestation of our church's core values — values that underscore the importance of integrity, responsibility, and spiritual growth," Saleh said. "It is our prayerful expectation that this period will be a God-led journey for both Pastor Tate and all of us that call Fellowship our church home."
Stephanie Porter, Fellowship's family ministries pastor, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that she couldn't comment at this time when asked how long Tate's leave of absence is expected to last.
Tate, 46, founded the "gospel-centered, multiethnic, intergenerational church" in 2012. And by 2017, the church attracted some 3,500 people to worship at Monrovia High School weekly.
In addition to his work at Fellowship Church, Tate is listed as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, and serves on the boards of trustees at Azusa Pacific University, the Global Leadership Network and global church planting organization, Stadia, according to the church's website.
While Stadia and GLN did not immediately respond to queries from CP about Tate's status with their organizations, Rachel White, executive director of strategic communication at Azusa Pacific University, said Tate no longer serves on their board.
"Albert Tate is not a current board member. He stepped off the Azusa Pacific Board of Trustees in August," White told CP in an email.
Stadia told The Roys Report that Tate was asked to resign from its board, and he did so on Saturday.
"At Stadia's request, Albert Tate resigned from the Stadia board on Saturday 9/30 to allow himself time for healing and full restoration to ministry," the Stadia statement reads.
In his statement to Fellowship Church, Saleh promised to update the congregation "about significant developments as they unfold, within the bounds of respect and privacy that these matters require."
He also urged members of the church to pray.
"We … call upon you, our church family, to join us in prayer as we navigate these times. Our faith teaches us that even in adversity, God's love prevails, and His plan unfolds. It is that divine wisdom that we seek now, more than ever," he said.
"We also pray that the Holy Spirit guide and empower our ministry through our pastoral team, staff, and dedicated volunteers. Our church remains steadfast in its mission to be a gospel-centered, multi-ethnic, intergenerational church where we exist to make disciples."