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Megachurch Pastor Returns to Pulpit after Affair Allegations

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Tennessee megachurch pastor Tavner Smith apologized to his congregation Sunday for having an “inappropriate relationship,” saying he had “caused devastation I can’t take back.”

Smith, who leads Venue Church in Chattanooga, had been on a break from the pulpit after a video surfaced allegedly showing the pastor kissing a woman who is not his wife.

Eight church employees quit the week before Christmas after confronting Smith about the video. Other former employees came forward to share their concerns about Smith and the church as well.

The pastor said in an Instagram post Jan. 6 he would take a six-week sabbatical to “fill up” so he could come back “rested, refreshed and ready for the rest of the year.”

“I love you and I’ll see you in February,” he said.

The Roys Report obtained a copy of a Facebook video of Feb. 6 services at the church showing Smith apologizing for causing any “embarrassment, heartache, or confusion.”

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“I’ve wounded people, and I’ve caused devastation that I know I can’t ever take back,” he said, without giving specifics.

“At this point, you all are very well aware that I’m not perfect,” he continued. “But I do love God with my whole heart and I do love you. There’s no excuse for my behaviors and the hurts I’ve caused. But I believe there is healing in walking out a brand-new season.”

The video has since been taken down, per The Roys Report.

Smith and his wife, Danielle Smith, began the divorce process in May 2021, court records show, and finalized in December. The couple has three daughters.

In audio of the December meeting between Smith and church staff, which was leaked to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Smith said that when he wasn’t married and the woman he allegedly kissed in the video was also no longer married, “we hope to pursue each other.”

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.