A Florida pastor is under the scrutiny of his congregation -- and of social media users -- after his illicit tryst with a married woman sent him running naked from the woman’s furious, gun-wielding husband.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported Monday that the Rev. O. Jermaine Simmons, pastor of Jacob Chapel Baptist Church in Tallahassee, was sent running from the woman’s home without his clothes, wallet or car keys on the afternoon of Jan. 17 after the woman’s husband came home unexpectedly and found them having sex in their daughter’s bedroom. The newspaper reported that the man had picked up their sick son from school after the school had been unable to reach his wife.
The man, upon interrupting Simmons and his wife, yelled, “I’m going to kill him,” and retrieved a gun from the master bedroom.
The woman called police and told them her husband had left with Simmons’ belongings, which he threatened to bring to the church. He also threatened to expose the affair on Facebook, the newspaper said.
It took telephone negotiations with police officers for the husband to return Simmons’ property, the Democrat reported. He turned his handgun over to the president of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP.
The woman told police her husband never threatened her with harm and declined to press charges, as did Simmons. Citing the interests of all involved, the state attorney decided not to prosecute the man.
Simmons, who has served as Jacob Chapel’s pastor since late 2005, said he does not plan to step down as pastor. He addressed the scandal with his congregation in a sermon, which was recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
In the address, the husband and father of a young son told those present that he had already received what he sought from God -- forgiveness. He asked his congregants for their forgiveness, as well as their prayers.
“I’m hurting because I’ve hurt you. I can’t speak for people on the outside, because I’m not Tallahassee’s pastor,” Simmons told church members Jan. 22, to applause and murmurs of approval. “I’m not Florida’s pastor. I’m not the world’s pastor. I’m Jacob Chapel’s pastor.”
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“It hurts me that you have to defend my actions,” he continued. “Because, when you love somebody, you want to fight for them. You want to defend them. But let me be very clear. You cannot defend sin.”
He told the congregants that they couldn’t get defensive or try to justify his sin, saying that the situation was not about anyone but him.
“The world doesn’t operate like we operate. And so you will be attacked for loving me.”
He said there were likely people in the church at that moment there solely to see what was going to happen when he addressed his indiscretion.
“Come on, pastor! Come on, pastor!” several people shouted in agreement.
Simmons likened the internet to an ocean full of sharks.
“The sharks eat you up because that’s their world,” he said to more applause. “I know you and I dive in and out of social media and all that stuff, so every now and then when we jump in, we get bit. You can’t defend sin. You’ve got to defer to your savior. The same Jesus I preach to you every Sunday.
“You defer to him. Because when you love somebody, it’s tempting to jump out there. My baby brother’s here, sitting on the end there. I have to keep him from shooting people, because he ain’t all the way saved yet. (I have to) talk him down.”
At the end of the address, the congregation stood and applauded Simmons for several minutes.
Simmons often posts inspirational messages to his Facebook page, where he posted an image the day of the Jan. 17 incident that advised his church members not to let problems paralyze their progress in life.
Simmons' sex scandal occurred during a weeklong celebration of his 11th anniversary as pastor of Jacob Chapel. The celebration included a Jan. 20 book signing for Simmons’ first book, “I Need a Man.”
The book is described on Simmons’ personal website as offering “a fresh perspective on the issues of godly manhood and mentoring.” It was published through Certa Publishing, a Christian partner publishing company.