Tacoma pastor Dean Curry, leader of Life Center Assembly of God in Tacoma, has been dismissed from his position amid accusations of physical misconduct with a former employee.
Curry, 50, denied the unspecified allegations Sunday during an impromptu meeting called by church leaders.
"My relationship with Assembly of God has been fractured," he said to a packed auditorium at the megachurch's main complex on South Union Avenue. "This woman accused me of behavior that would have amounted to adultery if it were true."
Curry did not name the woman, describing her only as a former church employee. He said he had never been unfaithful to his wife, Anne.
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"I have been falsely and wrongly accused," he said, adding that a continuing investigation of his conduct would show "no damaging phone logs, no compromising emails or text messages."
Curry said he was not given an opportunity to defend himself by leaders of the church's district office in Snoqualmie.
"Pastors come and go, and this one is going, and you have to keep doing your Jesus thing," he said. "I'm not going to allow myself to be bitter toward my accuser. I'm 50 years old and I've got a lot of living to do."
As Curry finished speaking, most members of the crowd rose and gave him a standing ovation.
He has led the Tacoma church for 14 years. He ended his brief speech by saying he is entitled to an automatic appeal with the Assembly of God's national organization in Springfield, Mo. He said the loss of his license and church by-laws prevented him from continuing in his position until the process is complete.
Nate Angelo, a member of the church's board, described Sunday's gathering as "a family meeting," adding that "sometimes business has to be taken care of. Tonight's going to be a hard night."
Angelo said church leaders weren't yet prepared to accept questions from church members at Sunday's gathering. He noted that members could submit inquiries online at the church's website.
"We learned about this three weeks ago," Angelo said. "We now need to gather information and facts."
Rumors of the accusations against Curry have circulated among church members for the past several days. They included an allegation of police involvement. Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said Sunday that she did not know of any recent department activity involving Curry.
Following Curry's speech, 13 members of the church board took the stage of the church's main auditorium. Board member Caryl Andrews delivered a formal statement.
"A few weeks ago, we learned about an accusation against Dean," Andrews said. She offered few specific details, except to say that the allegations involved physically inappropriate conduct.
Andrews said board members asked for written details from the district office, and received none. On June 21, leaders of the district office presented a plan to dismiss Curry as an Assembly of God minister, she said.
"We raised concerns about the thoroughness of the investigative process," she said. "We do believe that all people, women and men, deserve to be heard."
Andrews said the church board will begin the search for an interim pastor, review policies regarding employees, and communicate with members when more information becomes available.
Several speakers echoed past statements from Curry about the nature of the church, saying the church did not belong to Curry or the members — rather, they called it "a Jesus place."
Another speaker and church member, former NFL player Eric Boles, closed the short meeting with a prayer.
"There are people who are hurting on all sides of this, and we're praying for everybody," he said, to a chorus of amens.