Darrell Gilyard's Photo From Department of Corrections
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville pastor who confessed to sexual crimes against two young girls is once again preaching.
Former Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church pastor Darrell Gilyard was just released from prison in December. He's now delivering sermons at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church on North Davis Street.
"All these people over here are trying to do is worship, which is what you all ought to be doing," said one church member when asked his opinion.
Gilyard is now a registered sex offender and is on sex offender probation until December of 2014 according to the Department of Corrections.
While serving as pastor of Shiloh in 2008, he surrendered to police in 2008 and admitted to committing sex crimes against two girls under the age of 16.
Despite that past, many members of the Christ Tabernacle congregation have welcomed him with open arms.
"He's preaching the Lord's word and he can be wherever he wants to," said Lindy Brown.
"He's done his time. He's in counseling and we should give him another opportunity because God can use anybody at any given time," said Rebecca Smith.
Rebecca Smith, Gilyard's assistant, said she's been in communication with him over the past three years and he expressed interest in leading a weekly bible study.
"We've been in prayer and I shared with him that God didn't call you to lead bible study. God called you to preach," said Smith.
So he's now preaching on Sundays at CTMB indefinitely.
"Until they tell him he can't come back again," said Smith.
Because of that and his legal requirements, children are sent to a separate building and service. Smith says it's proof of how passionate the congregation is about Gilyard returning to leadership.
"I'm passionate about doing the right thing and the right thing is giving another person another chance," said Smith.
This chance also helps Christ Tabernacle out financially. Attendance was down, but with Gilyard it has increased.
"I think it's a wonderful thing," said Brown.
Church members say it was the best decision, based on their beliefs.
"That's what God would have us do. He would have us to appreciate everybody for who they are because none of us are without sin," said Brown.
Smith said Gilyard is not on the payroll at the church, so he's not being paid for his services. She does say he will most likely get donations for his services. Gilyard did not give any comments to First Coast News for this story.
First Coast News