Pastor of Hammond mega church fired for ‘sin’
By Carole Carlson Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2012 4:58PM
Pastor Jack Schaap of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:18AM
The pastor of a fundamentalist mega church in Northwest Indiana has been dismissed because of a “sin” that’s being investigated by Lake County (Ind.) sheriff’s police.
Jack Schaap, 54, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond since 2001, was fired by a deacon board, said Eddie Wilson, director of public relations for the church.
Wilson said Tuesday church officials didn’t believe anything criminal occurred, but information was turned over to the sheriff’s department “for the sake of transparency and honesty.”
Wilson said members of the board will address the congregation Wednesday night.
“The church will move on in the process of calling a new pastor,” he said.
Wilson said Schaap was in seclusion with his wife, Cindy, daughter of Jack Hyles, the pastor who built the First Baptist Church and co-founded Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville.
“They’re trying to reconcile their marriage,” Wilson said. “The church will move on and begin the process of calling a new pastor.”
While declining to offer details on the dismissal, Wilson said church bylaws state adultery is grounds for dismissal.
Sheriff John Buncich confirmed the church contacted him and Schaap’s actions were under investigation by detectives.
“I can’t confirm the name of the individual who’s subject of the investigation,” said Buncich, adding more information would be forthcoming Wednesday.
A press release from the church stated: “Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people. We ask that everyone pray for the families involved and pray that the situation will be handled in a Christ-honoring manner.”
One of the early mega churches, First Baptist Church, 507 State St., has more than 15,000 members, Wilson said.
It’s famous for its church outreach that in the 1970s used more than 200 buses to round up parishioners and bring them to church from across the region.
According to the church website, Schaap graduated from Hyles-Anderson bible college in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in pastoral theology.
He and Cindy Hyles married in 1979 and Schaap began teaching at Hyles-Anderson. The couple have two children. He became vice president of the college in 1996 and became pastor at First Baptist after Jack Hyles’ death in 2001.
The church continued to grow under Schaap, and in 2005 it moved into a new 7,500-seat auditorium.