The Richmond Outreach Center announced that a youth pastor from Atlanta will lead the Virginia megachurch after nearly a year-long, nationwide search.
Joe Donahue will replace Geronimo Aguilar, the ROC's former senior pastor who was arrested in May 2013 on sexual abuse charges. Prior to his new assignment, Donahue was serving as teaching pastor at First Redeemer Church for the past six years.
"Pastor Joe has a heart to lead, strengthen, and equip the church through solid biblical teaching, authenticity, transparency, and his love for Jesus," according to a statement on the church's website.
Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. and a consultant for the ROC, introduced Donahue and his wife Kristy to the congregation on Saturday night. While speaking about the church's struggle to remain intact during Aguilar's sex scandal, Falwell noted that Donahue is the man "God has raised up" to lead the ministry towards a new beginning.
"Humanly speaking, there is absolutely no reason why the Richmond Outreach Center is still here today. Let's be honest. With all this church has gone through, all the challenges, all the problems and all the attacks, it should not have survived," said Falwell, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
He added, "…God has said 'I will deliver you from the hands of every single person who mocked this church. And I will deliver you from the hands of every single person who laughed at this church.' There is a new day dawning for the Richmond Outreach Center and that day begins right now."
According to his website, youthevangelist.com, Donahue has worked alongside his wife in youth ministry since 1993. In addition, his difficult time as a youth helped him later, as he serves hurting teenagers in ministry.
"Verbally and sexually abused by his quick-tempered-alcoholic father, his childhood was filled with loneliness, hurt, and lots of covering up," reads his biography on the site. "He witnessed his father rape his mom, went through the hurt of his parents' divorce, lived in a YWCA shelter, and spent three months in a psychiatric hospital."
Donahue is the last pastor to replace a vacant leadership role at the ROC following Aguilar's resignation at the same time that three associate pastors stepped down. The associate pastors were not arrested or linked to the sexual abuse case.
Last summer, the church's board hired two interim pastors to interchangeably lead the church's Saturday night weekly services.
The ROC will hold a town hall style meeting this week for church members in an effort to become more acquainted with Donahue and his wife.