Jack Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana who was fired earlier this week for an alleged adulterous affair, has confessed to cheating on his wife with a teen girl belonging to the megachurch.
The Board of Deacons addressed the scandal at a church meeting Wednesday night, WGN-TV revealed, and said that Schaap, 54, has admitted to the inappropriate relationship with a church member who was not named. The girl, currently 17, was 16 years old when her relationship with Schaap began.
The former pastor, who had led the 15,000-member congregation for the past 11 years, has not yet made any public remarks on his firing nor the affair. The FBI reportedly has launched an investigation into Schaap's involvement with the young girl – although the age of consent in Indiana is 16, so it is unclear if the married father of two will face any criminal charges.
According to Trisha Kae, a former church member who maintains a Facebook page for ex-congregants, Schaap had forgotten his phone one night at the pulpit, and a deacon who saw it picked it up to return it to the pastor.
"From what we understand, the deacon then saw a text come through from a teenage girl in the church, and it was a picture of Jack Schaap and this girl making out," Kae claims.
The Board of Deacons explained the situation on Wednesday to the congregation, and asked for members to stick with them and offer their prayers for the church and the families of all involved.
When First Baptist Church of Hammond first released news of the firing, officials said they were assisting the sheriff's department in the case, but declined to specify why exactly Schaap was fired and instead said the dismissal was for a "sin."
"At this time, we deeply regret the need to announce that First Baptist Church has dismissed our pastor, Dr. Jack Schaap, due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor. First Baptist Church is in full cooperation with our local authorities in their investigation of this matter. Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people," the church stated in a press release.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich added that Schaap was being investigated along with Hyles-Anderson College, where the former pastor was once a vice president, and where it is believed the teenage girl took classes.
Eddie Wilson, director of public relations for FBC of Hammond, had said that the church did not believe Schaap would face criminal charges, but noted that adultery is a serious moral transgression.
The public relations director revealed that Schaap had been trying to reconcile his marriage to Cindy Schaap, the daughter of the Rev. Hyles, the pastor who built First Baptist Church and helped found Hyles-Anderson College.
"The church will move on and begin the process of calling a new pastor," Wilson added.