After 14 years at the helm of the multi-campus Life Center Assembly of God church in Tacoma, Washington, Pastor Dean Curry has been removed from his position due allegations of physical misconduct with a former church employee, church officials announced on Sunday.
Curry denied the claim in a report from The News Tribune and told his church that it would make him an adulterer if it were true. He insists that he has never been unfaithful to his wife.
"My relationship with Assembly of God has been fractured," Curry, 50, told church members at a "family meeting" Sunday. "This woman accused me of behavior that would have amounted to adultery if it were true."
He refused to identify his accuser to the congregation but said leaders at the Assemblies of God's Northwest District Council did not give him an opportunity to defend himself and remains confident that an ongoing investigation of the claim would prove that "I have been falsely and wrongly accused."
Greg Stern, senior director of operations and finance with the Assemblies of God's Northwest District Council and who is authorized to discuss Curry's removal, was not immediately available for comment.
Curry had been employed at Life Center for more than two decades, starting as a junior high pastor after graduating from Northwest University, an Assemblies of God school in nearby Kirkland. His twin brother, elderly mother and several other relatives were once reported to be a part of the congregation.
"Pastors come and go, and this one is going, and you have to keep doing your Jesus thing," Curry told his congregation Sunday. "I'm not going to allow myself to be bitter toward my accuser. I'm 50 years old and I've got a lot of living to do."
Members showed support for their embattled pastor with a standing ovation. Curry explained that he is entitled to an automatic appeal with the Assemblies of God's national organization in Springfield, Missouri. Until that process is complete he cannot serve as a preacher in the church because he has been stripped of his preaching license and church by-laws prevent him from holding a leadership position while the investigation is underway.
Life Center board member Nate Angelo said they only learned about the allegation against curry three weeks ago and they were still gathering "information and facts."
It was also rumored that the allegation had resulted in police involvement but Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool told The News Tribune she was not aware of a case involving Curry.
In a formal statement delivered to the church, board member Caryl Andrews said when they first heard about the allegation brought against Curry, which appears to have come through the church's district office, they asked for details and were given none. On June 21, leaders from the district office then presented a plan to dismiss Curry as an Assemblies of God minister.
"We raised concerns about the thoroughness of the investigative process," she said. "We do believe that all people, women and men, deserve to be heard."