The Rev. Tyrone D. Gordon, a former pastor at Wichita’s St. Mark United Methodist Church and school board member, has been accused of sexual misconduct by a former member of Gordon’s church in Dallas.
Friends and colleagues in Wichita expressed shock and doubt Sunday about the accusations.
“I don’t believe it,” said Pamela Williams, executive director of the W.G. Williams Community Foundation and whose husband, Jerome Williams, served on the Wichita school board with Gordon in the 1990s. “I certainly hope it’s not true. The devil is always busy.”
Gordon, 53, was in Wichita in mid-January to speak at an awards breakfast, an event leading up to Martin Luther King Day celebrations on Jan. 16.
The Rev. Cameron Jerrod Greer, 26, filed a lawsuit Friday in Dallas, accusing Gordon of coercing men in his congregation at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church to engage “in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification,” according to the Dallas Morning News. The events allegedly occurred inside Gordon’s office from about 2003 through 2010.
Gordon, who has been at St. Luke since 2002, abruptly announced his resignation last month and said he would relinquish his ordination credentials. His resignation from the prominent church doesn’t take effect until Feb. 15. Gordon couldn’t be reached for comment by the Morning News or The Eagle.
At the time of Gordon’s resignation, W. Earl Bledsoe, the bishop of the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, told the Morning News that Gordon was leaving “in the midst of pending complaints” against him by individuals within and outside St. Luke.
In addition to Gordon, Greer also named St. Luke and the North Texas Annual Conference as defendants. Greer’s suit states that church leaders had been told that Gordon was exchanging sexually explicit e-mails and text messages with “both employees and members” of St. Luke, the Morning News reported.
Greer, a longtime member at St. Luke, is now pastor of Cockrell Hill United Methodist Church in Dallas.
Gordon, who is married with two grown daughters, became a popular pastor in Wichita. Under his leadership over a 14-year period, St. Mark grew from 250 members to more than 2,500, making it the largest predominantly African-American church in Kansas and the state’s second-largest United Methodist Church at the time he left in June 2002.
Gordon served on the Wichita school board from 1990 to 1995. After his term on the board ended, he continued to be involved in school district issues. He helped campaign for the $284.5 million bond that voters approved in 2000, and he successfully lobbied in 2001 to change the district’s zero-tolerance policy on hitting teachers or school staff members so students who broke the rule could earn class credit while expelled.
He also served on the board of directors of the Wichita Children’s Home, the Salvation Army Advisory Board and the 2000 Kansas Governor’s Task Force on Education.
The Rev. Kevass Harding, a pastor at Wichita’s Dellrose United Methodist Church and a former school board member, said he saw Gordon during the recent awards breakfast. He said he heard about the allegations against Gordon.
“It’s pretty sad,” Harding said. “I’m just praying for him and his family. I hope the best for him.”
The Rev. Reuben Eckels, pastor at Wichita’s New Day Christian Church, said he’d heard rumors about Gordon and that he had stepped down.
“That’s hard news to hear,” he said. “That floors me, really. I admired him for the work he did here, growing the church and being a member of the school board. It hurts all the way around.
“People are quick to make allegations. I’m praying for him.”
Bishop Scott Jones, head of the Kansas Area of the United Methodist Church, told the Morning News that he had recently discussed Gordon’s tenure in Kansas with Bledsoe, but he wouldn’t share any details about those talks.