Share Tweet By Billy Hallowell Editor
June 19, 2024

A former pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, is speaking out in the wake of the Robert Morris scandal to share what he believes are helpful steps to address and prevent abuse in Christian circles.

Listen to the latestepisodeof Quick Start ?

Bob Hamp served as executive pastor of pastoral care at Gateway Church from 2005 to 2014, developing the house of worship’s Freedom Ministry, a component of the church’s outreach that helps individuals “find freedom from bondage in their life,” according to Gateway’s website.

Hamp told CBN News the allegations that Morris molested a 12-year-old girl in the 1980s were not known to him before hearing accuser Cindy Clemishire’s harrowing account. Hamp said he joined the church well after these purported events took place and had no involvement; he now runs Think Differently Academy, helping people heal and find spiritual fulfillment in Christ.

“I’m heartbroken,” Hamp told CBN News. “And first and foremost, of course, the first thing I read was the post that described that [Clemishire] was a 12-year-old girl in pink pajamas, and the very first thing is my heart just broke for a little 12-year-old girl in pink pajamas.”

Hamp helps people who have been sexually abused. He spoke compassionately about the tragedy of Clemishire being forced to deal with what unfolded as a child and then carry it throughout her life.

Watch Hamp explain:

He also said something else noteworthy about the Morris saga: the specific allegations surrounding the pastor were not in line with what he had been told in the past.

“The first thing: my heart just went out to her,” he said. “And I think, secondly, I felt a sense of, ‘This is not the story that I was told.’ So … a sense of betrayal, and anger about that, and sadness.”

Hamp said church leadership at his level at Gateway and the public were seemingly both given the “same information” about Morris’ past sin issue.

“That information is that there was an inappropriate relationship with a young woman,” Hamp said. “And, in that, I think there’s a language there that leads to a certain conclusion.”

He spoke about how language can sometimes be used in these circumstances to “fog the actual truth.”

“So, I, along with, I think, the general public, had heard the same story, which is, at some point in his life, there was a period of, or an experience of, immorality,” Hamp said. “Or an inappropriate relationship with… ‘a young woman.’ I had no idea that it was a 12-year-old little girl.”

As CBN News previously reported, Morris, 62, who resigned from Gateway Tuesday, offered a recent statement on the allegations against him in which he again used the term “young lady.”

In a statement to The Christian Post, Morris described what he said was “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady” in a home he stayed in during his 20s.

“It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong,” he said.

The preacher went on to state that the behavior happened on several occasions over a number of years. Morris said the situation was brought to light in 1987. He said he confessed, repented, sought counseling, and returned to ministry two years later with the support of the victims father.

For the record, the accuser denies the latter claim.

I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young ladys father, Morris said. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area.

This statement ignited further firestorm after Clemishire and others pushed back on the language used and as additional details about the allegations against Morris were revealed.

My name is Bob Hamp and I was on staff at Gateway Church from 2005 til 2014 and I want to talk about the importance of right conversations.
With that topic in mind, I first want to say to Cindy Clemishire how terribly sorry I am for all you have been through. First of all as a— Bob Hamp (@bobhamp) June 17, 2024

As for Hamp, he is speaking out to try and help people navigate the complex feelings and emotions surrounding this case and church abuse more generally, especially as moral failings, sin issues, and overt instances of abuse continue to unfold within Christian environments.

He recently published a post on X explaining, in detail, how he hopes people will react to the situation.

“The purpose of that post was to say, listen, we ought to deal with whatever happened at Gateway Church and … the years prior. We ought to deal with that in spirit and in truth,” he said. “But, if we don’t have the bigger conversation, this will happen again, and this will happen again, and this will happen again.”

Watch the interview to hear Hamp’s advice for churches.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up forFaithwires daily newsletterand download theCBN News app, invented by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***