Zacharias Institute Leaders Vince and Joanna Vitale Announce Plans to Resign
The leaders of the Zacharias Institute said they plan to resign, a decision they reached after a season of “lamenting, listening and learning” after sexual misconduct accusations against late evangelist and institute founder Ravi Zacharias came to light.
Vince and Joanna Vitale said in a Facebook post that they would step down next week and that they needed to “step into a substantial season of reordering” to “embrace the time and space needed to allow ourselves to be deeply formed by all that we have been humbled by and wrecked over in the last year.”
The Vitales did not indicate whether they would continue in ministry, but thanked former and present colleagues, saying, “We hope to be able to serve with many of you again at some point in the future.”
“As we have pressed into repentance both individually and with colleagues, God has graciously made that process deeply freeing, and one of our goals for the next season is to more actively embrace the gift of repentance in our hearts and in our family,” the post said.
The investigation found that Zacharias, who died in May 2020, had engaged in improper sexual conduct for years that included groping spa workers and asking them to massage his genitals as well as collecting explicit photos of young women.
As the leaders of Zacharias’ ministry dealt with the fallout after the preliminary report was released in December 2020, Vince and Joanna Vitale said in an apology video posted to YouTube in February that their confidence in Ravi Zacharias had been “severely misplaced,” and that by ignoring the sexual misconduct accusations put forward by his victims, they had “failed in the precise areas that God asked us to prioritize.”
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The Vitales said in the video that Zacharias had “lied to our faces,” but that they had made it too easy for him to live those lies.
The video specifically mentioned Lori Anne Thompson, who alleged in 2017 that Zacharias harassed her and drew her into a sexual relationship.
“We deeply hurt people, the people most in need of our care,” Vince Vitale said on the video. “We are sorry, very sorry.”
Thompson replied on Twitter at the time with a tweet that in part read, “apology accepted.”
Other Ravi Zacharias International Ministries officials who have apologized include CEO Sarah Davis, who is Zacharias’ daughter, and RZIM Senior Vice President Abdu Murray. The organization’s board also has apologized.
The Facebook post announcing the Vitales’ resignation said that God had led them to take seriously the things of which they personally needed to repent.
“We will always deeply grieve the suffering and the ways in which we contributed to it, but it is our prayer that the grief we carry from this will serve as a lasting reminder of our duty to care for the many whose wounds are far deeper than our own,” they said.