By Victor Ochieng
Pastors are fast leaving the pulpit simply because they can’t stand the moral demands of the calling. Now, another pastor has been removed from the pulpit for moral failing, reminding us of what James Dobson wrote in 1998: “We estimate that approximately 1,500 pastors leave their assignments each month, due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention within their local congregations.”
Michael Hodges, son of Senior Pastor of the Alabama-based Church of the Highlands, Chris Hodges, is no longer serving as the pastor of the church’s Greystone campus because of moral failure. His father, who’s also the founder of the close to 40,000-member non-denominational church, said on September 30 during the church’s ReCreate Women’s Conference that his son Michael had been removed from his position as pastor of the Greystone campus. He, however, didn’t give further details on why the decision was arrived at, only saying it’s due to moral failing.
It’s during the same conference that the senior Hodges released his new book “The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm & Love Well in a Culture of Compromise.”
It became apparent that the decision had been sealed after the church removed all references to the younger Hodges from the church’s website. Also deactivated are Michael’s social media accounts that the church may have been running on his behalf.
After Michael was kicked out, the church’s website indicated that the new Greystone campus pastor is Charles Kelly.
Michael Hodges had at some point in the past served as a pastor of Greystone and had been on the list of the Church of the Highlands’ staff since 2015. He’s held other titles in the church, including director of ministry partnership and placement, as well as a member of the Highlands College Team, which focuses on teaching student members on the church’s ministry.
Efforts to secure a comment from the church on the status of the former pastor went unanswered and so it’s not clear whether he was completely kicked out of the church or he was simply removed as a pastor, but left as a staff member.
Associate Pastor of Church of the Highlands, Dino Rizzo, had been taken through a restoration to the ministry under the leadership of Senior Pastor Chris Hodges. This was after Rizzo jolted out of his previous church after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship.
In July 2012, Rizzo opted for a sabbatical before he resigned as the senior pastor of the Baton Rouge, La.-based Healing Place Church, which he founded in 1993.