Clayton King, the leader of Crossroads Worldwide ministry, has been appointed the interim senior pastor of South Carolina's NewSpring Church after the megachurch's founding and senior pastor, Perry Noble, was fired for alcohol abuse and other "unfortunate choices and decisions."
"Perry Noble is no longer the Senior Pastor at NewSpring Church… As for what is next for us, Clayton King is going to step in as Interim Senior Pastor," the church, with a weekly attendance of 30,000, says on its website.
King "has been a friend to NewSpring since the very beginning of our church," it adds.
"Clayton will do a good job," Greenville Online quoted South Carolina Rep. Anne Thayer of Belton, a longtime NewSpring member, as saying. "The church officials gave me confidence today in the way they handled a very difficult situation. I thought it was good that they addressed it from the start. And I think it helped that Clayton will fill that interim role."
King, who stared preaching at age 15, graduated from Hillcrest High in Simpsonville, South Carolina, where he also started a Christian group, the Solid Rock Club, in 1988. He was chosen Outstanding Male Graduate of the Year at North Carolina's Gardner-Webb University in 1995. He also founded Clayton King Ministries and Crossroads Worldwide, a youth organization that works with churches to provide mission opportunities to youth.
"While this is the most difficult and painful decision we've had to make, unfortunately it was necessary. Perry has made some unfortunate choices and decisions that have caused us much concern," NewSpring Executive Pastor Shane Duffey said during Sunday worship.
Noble was removed July 1, but the decision was made public Sunday.
"Over the course of several months our executive pastors met with and discussed at length with Perry these concerns regarding his personal behavior and his spiritual walk, Perry's posture towards marriage, increased reliance on alcohol and other behaviors were of continual concern. Due to this the executive pastors confronted Perry and went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18," said Duffey.
However, Duffey didn't elaborate on the nature or the extent of the issues for which Noble had been fired. "Though we know you may want more details to satisfy your curiosity, [but] to do so would not be helpful to Perry or his family as they take these next steps," he said.
Noble admitted to and apologized for alcohol abuse.
"I wish this were a joke, a part of a sermon illustration…however, it's true," Noble said in a statement, posted on the church's website.
"I have often told you that NewSpring exists to help hurting, imperfect people. I have joked that you should not attend NewSpring if you are already perfect because I will mess you up! That was my way of telling you that I am traveling on a journey each day alongside each one of you to try to take my next step to become more like Jesus. If you have attended NewSpring for any length of time, you know I've never claimed to be the perfect pastor, or even more, the perfect Christian. What we've seen the Lord do over the past 16 years has been a modern day miracle. However, in my obsession to do everything possible to reach 100,000 and beyond – it has come at a personal cost in my own life and created a strain on my marriage."
He continued: "In my opinion, the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication. I never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I have allowed myself to slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol. This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others. I have no excuse – this was wrong, sinful and I am truly sorry."
Noble also said he plans to "immediately seek the spiritual guidance of some amazing men and women of God in my life – and am currently under the treatment of an excellent psychiatrist who is helping me take major steps forward."
He also said, "Neither Lucretia nor I have committed any sort of sexual sin. I have not stolen money. I have not been looking at porn and there was absolutely no domestic abuse. This is the story—period. I simply need to address an issue that has gotten out of hand in my life."