Gateway Church Founder Resigns amid Historic Sexual Abuse Allegations


In a poignant move that’s sent ripples throughout the broader Christian community, Robert Morris, the respected senior pastor and founder of Gateway Church, a glittering Texas megachurch, has tendered his resignation. This action was in direct response to harrowing allegations of sexual abuse that have surfaced, broaching incidents that purportedly occurred in the 1980s. This news reverberated with monumental shock across the faithful flock of Gateway Church, which, under the guidance of Morris, had blossomed into a vibrant congregation of over 100,000 devout worshippers.

The accusations were spotlighted on The Wartburg Watch, a vigilant religious watchdog blog, on the preceding Friday. The plaintiff, Cindy Clemishire (54), now bravely coming forward publicly with her story, alleges that the beginnings of her abuse started when she was just 12 years old. In a detailed recounting with The Dallas Morning News, Clemishire reminisces crossing paths with Morris in 1981. A traveling preacher at that time, Morris was appointed to deliver sermons at an Oklahoma church which Clemishire and her family attended religiously.

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Morris, along with his wife and young son, soon became an intertwined part of Clemishire’s family, shaping a bond of trust and camaraderie. Her story takes a dark twist in 1982, when allegedly Morris, staying at their family home, beckoned her into his room. Thus began a harrowing cycle of sexual abuse, spanning four and a half years, intermittently tainting Clemishire’s adolescent years with an unspeakable trauma.

Facing the accusations head-on, Morris, now 62, furnished a statement to The Christian Post. In his words, he admitted to an ‘inappropriate sexual behavior,’ with a young lady in a house he was staying in during his early 20s. He described the encounters as ‘kissing and petting’, absent of intercourse, but nonetheless acknowledged them as morally wrong.

In a bid to ensure transparency and justice for all those involved, Gateway Church’s board of elders, the custodians of the congregation’s faith and morals, accepted Morris’s resignation and expressed their intention to perform a thorough investigation of events that unfurled between 1982 and 1987. To ensure the impartiality of the review process, they’ve enlisted the services of an external law firm.

In addressing these allegations before last Friday, the board conceded to their limited knowledge of the nature and the breadth of the misconduct. They expressed their understanding of the incident as an ‘extramarital relationship’ that Pastor Morris had often referenced in his ministry. They were blindsided, however, by the insinuations of it involving mistreatment of a 12-year-old child.

Bearing its roots in the Dallas suburb of Southlake, Gateway Church, since its conception by Morris in 2000, eventually sprouted multiple locations in the area. In recent years, it drew the attention of the highest executive office when former President Donald Trump graced its Dallas campus with his presence for a discourse on race relations and the economy in 2020.

As the magnitude of the events sinks in, Gateway Church and the broader Christian community will undoubtedly be feeling the tremors of these revelations for some time to come.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.