A prominent Massachusetts pastor who was arrested in a prostitution sting after he agreed to pay an undercover female detective $150 for sex last week has asked his congregation for forgiveness.
Archbishop Archie Livingston Foxworth, senior pastor of Grace Church of All Nations church in Dorchester, who blessed Gov. Charlie Baker of that state when he was elected in 2014, reportedly addressed his packed church on Sunday but never mentioned what he was asking forgiveness for.
"I ask for God's forgiveness," Foxworth, told parishioners at the end of a three-hour service, according to the Boston Herald. "I beg for your forgiveness."
The Boston Globe said prior to asking for forgiveness, Foxworth sat near his wife in a front pew singing songs.
Police charged last Tuesday that detectives from Boston Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit posed as a female on Backpage.com and they were contacted by Foxworth and eight other men. Foxworth agreed to pay $150 for sex and went to an address on Pine Street to complete the transaction. When he arrived, detectives called the number the pastor gave them and it rang. He was arrested and his cellphone was confiscated as evidence.
Foxworth told his church that legally there were some things he may not be able to divulge but explained that he has had many sleepless nights and panic-filled days.
He praised his wife for her support and acknowledged her as one of his three great loves along with the Lord and his ministry. He said his action reflected poorly on his loves and the church and said he would be going through a period of reflection.
Several members who listened to his apology expressed their appreciation for the pastor's approach to reconciliation as well as their love for him.
"We don't need to know what happened — it's between him and God," church member Laura Langford told the Boston Herald.
"I love my bishop," Cassie Avery-Grice said.
Foxworth, 68, has been leading the congregation of more than 1,200 for 35 years, according to his church. He is married to Karen L. Foxworth and is the father of six children as well as six grandchildren.
Eileen Kenner, who told the Herald that she has been a member of the church since the 1970s, said even though her pastor's arrest is a difficult situation she believes they would get through it.
"It's a hurtful situation. We'll get through it," she said. "There will be victory after this. ... We love unconditionally."
Laura Langford, 76, another longtime member, warned people not to judge her pastor.
"Let those without sin, cast the first stone," she told the Globe. "We all fall short. It's all about forgiveness. We forgive him. We love him. We've all done stuff."
The Globe explained that after Foxworth was done speaking on Sunday, congregants surrounded his family, hugged them and prayed over them. The pastor later went on to have a meeting with the men of the church.
Along with his work at Grace Church of All Nations, Foxworth also serves as the "senior shepherd" of the Pentecostal Episcopal Church International, "a covering ministry for Pastors and churches who have a desire to be connected to a national and international Christian reformation."