Pastor Robert Morris resigns as overseer at Church of the Highlands

Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris preaching a sermon on Calvinism on Saturday, August 11, 2018.
Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris preaching a sermon on Calvinism on Saturday, August 11, 2018. | Screenshot: YouTube/gatewaychurchtv

Texas megachurch Pastor Robert Morris has resigned as an overseer of the Church of the Highlands amid allegations he repeatedly sexually molested an underage girl in the 1980s. 

Morris, who leads the Southlake, Texas-based megachurch Gateway Church, has served as an overseer of the multi-campus, Alabama-based Church of the Highlands. He stepped down from that position after his decades-old transgressions became public. 

"After being made aware of the disturbing media reports, Highlands trustees and overseers immediately initiated a due diligence process that included reaching out to Gateway's elders," trustees for the Church of the Highlands maintained in a statement to The Roys Report.

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"Before the scheduled follow-up meeting to determine changes in our governance structure, Pastor Morris resigned as an overseer of Church of the Highlands."

On Saturday, The Dallas Morning News published an article detailing allegations of sexual abuse against Morris by Cindy Clemishire the day after The Wartburg Watch first reported the allegations.

Clemishire, now 54, told the outlet that the misconduct occurred in the 1980s, beginning when she was a 12-year-old girl. 

Clemishire recalled the first instance of sexual abuse, which took place as he stayed at her home while preaching in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of his role as a traveling preacher.

"I remember vividly everything I was wearing and how the pajamas felt, they were light pink, and it was a little top with bloomers, and I had on underwear and bloomers and the little top and a robe that snapped up over the top." 

"I just remember he wanted to talk," she said. "And then he started touching my stomach and proceeded to touch my breast and went under my pants, and then told me I could never tell anyone, because it would ruin everything."

The abuse continued for four and a half years, she said. 

Morris admitted to wrongdoing in a statement to The Christian Post.

"When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying," he asserted. "It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years."

"In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of," he insisted. "I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady's father. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked with purity and accountability in that area."

Morris also suggested to CP that he received the blessing of Clemishire's father and the elders of the church where he worked at the time to return to ministry after two years. He added that he met with Clemishire and her family in October 1989, where he "asked for their forgiveness, and they graciously forgave" him. 

Clemishire elaborated on what happened to her as a preteen and teen in an interview with CP, deriding his description of her as a "young lady" as "appalling."

"He says there was no sexual intercourse, but he did touch every part of my body and inserted his fingers into me, which I understand now is considered a form of rape by instrumentation," Clemishire said. "I was an innocent 12-year-old little girl who knew nothing about sexual behavior."

Clemishire disputed Morris' assertion that her father gave him his blessing to return to ministry. 

"My father never ever gave his blessing on Robert returning to ministry! My father told him he's lucky he didn't kill him. I am mortified that he is telling the world my dad gave his blessing! Of course, we forgive because we are biblically called to forgive those who sin against us. But that does not mean he is supposed to go on without repercussions."

An internal staff communication from the elders at Gateway Church shared on X indicates that the church is aware of what occurred in the 1980s and that his relationship with the megachurch is not in jeopardy.

"Pastor Robert has been open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago when he was in his twenties and prior to him starting Gateway Church. He has shared publicly from the pulpit the proper Biblical steps he took in his lengthy restoration process."

"The two-year restoration process was closely administered by the Elders at Shady Grove Church and included him stepping out of the ministry during that period while receiving professional counseling and freedom ministry counseling. Since the resolution of this 35-year-old matter, there have been no other moral failures. Pastor Robert has walked in purity, and he has placed accountability measures and people in his life. The matter has been properly disclosed to church leadership."

While Morris never went into detail about how he sexually abused Clemishire, he did acknowledge in his 2011 bookDream to Destiny that the "Lord orchestrated the circumstances for me to step out of ministry" as he dealt with pride early in his career. He also disclosed that he had "a habit of looking" at other women lustfully despite being married to his wife, Debbie. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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