Nearly a year after the Richmond Outreach Center megachurch in Virginia lost its founding pastor Geronimo Aguilar to an explosive alleged sex scandal, Joe Donahue, the man the church board brought in with much fanfare to replace him, has been fired after just seven weeks on the job.
In a statement posted on his website, youthevangelist.com, Donahue and his wife, Kristy, said the firing caught them completely off guard and are now seeking an explanation from the church.
"We understood that it would be difficult (a sea of red-flag warnings), but we never anticipated anything like what has occurred since May 22. Despite ongoing encouragement from the board of directors, and without warning, I was terminated," said Donahue in the statement.
"I would have greatly valued a conversation. I love accountability and love to be sharpened. If I was leading the church in an unbiblical manner — I would repent and seek forgiveness," it noted.
"My hope was to repair and rebuild the foundation of the church, while keeping the ministries running. The ministries to the homeless, the hungry, the poor and neglected are phenomenal. Those ministries would have never stopped. More churches should do those. They are important and represent the heart that Jesus has for those who are hurting," he added.
The Christian Post reached out to the ROC on Wednesday for comment and was directed to leave a message for a spokeswoman. In a follow-up call, no one answered the telephone.
Last May, the ROC's founding pastor, Geronimo "Pastor G" Aguilar, was extradited to Texas on aggravated sexual assault charges related to activities with two sisters who were younger than 14 at the time of the alleged assaults.
These assaults allegedly occurred before Pastor G founded the ROC in 2003. He faces life in prison if he is convicted of the charges.
Soon after, the ROC's board announced that they had accepted Aguilar's resignation along with three others — pastors Jason Helmlinger, Andrew Delgado and Matthew Aguilar.
In announcing Donahue's appointment at the church in late March, the ROC noted: "Pastor Joe has a heart to lead, strengthen, and equip the church through solid biblical teaching, authenticity, transparency, and his love for Jesus."
Despite the firing, however, Donahue believes that the Lord led him to the megachurch and gave him a plan to lead the body out of the troubles left by his predecessor. He feels, however, that he was not given enough time to see it through.
"I feel it is necessary to communicate that I was operating in a nine phase plan. On one of my flights from Atlanta to Richmond, I sensed the Lord give this plan to me. I knew where the ROC had been and the troubles they had gone through ... but I was not the hero. It would take time, hard work, and much prayer to see calm returned to the church. I shared this plan [with] the executive team, church staff and some key volunteers," he explained.
"I had initiated a dialogue with one member of the board of directors in regard to the foundation of the church. I communicated to him, if he wasn't going to support the direction, it would never happen. At this point, I was hoping to open a door of ongoing dialogue, and did not expect to be terminated as a result. I believe the Lord has great plans for the future of the ROC, and my hope is to still be a part of it. I want to see the church functioning as a New Testament Church … and I hope the ROC family understands my heart," he continued.
"In seven weeks, I realize I have no 'political capital' among the people. If I am the only one standing in the field fighting for the church — I will do it. The church belongs to the LORD. Not to me. Not to the board. Not to the members. It belongs to Jesus and He has revealed the structure of the church in the Bible — and that is good enough for me," he ended.
LISTEN TO PASTOR DONAHUE PREACH AT THE CHURCH LAST MONTH BELOW: