Jacksonville Church Hires Registered Sex Offender as Pastor, Bans Children from Service

The Lord may be forgiving. Sex offender laws? Not so much.

A Baptist church in Jacksonville has hired a registered sex offender as its new pastor, but because a court has ruled the he's not allowed to have "unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old," the church has decided to ban kids from its Sunday services.

Back in 2009, Darrell Gilyard pleaded guilty to charges of lewd conduct and lewd molestation according to At the time Gilyard was a pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church. His victims were female members of his congregation under 18. He molested one 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another.

Gilyward was released from jail on December 28 and began preaching at the Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in late January.

As part of his three-year probation, Gilyard cannot have any unsupervised contact with children. However, even any supervised contact must be OK'd by a therapist. He must also enroll in a sex offender therapy program before supervised contact is allowed. Gilyard says he's enrolled in such a program, and his attorneys have filed a motion seeking to clarify the terms of his probation and to allow children in the church while he's at the pulpit according to

In the meantime, the church has decided to ban all children from Sunday service.

"Somehow I will prove that life isn't over when one has committed a crime for which he receives this heinous label," Gilyard told a reporter through text message. "You don't have to languish on the fringes of society."

Oddly, Gilyard's arrival at the church has caused a spike in attendance. Before Gilyard joined the church about 10 members came to service. Now the numbers are between 150 and 200.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder