At the meeting, Fambro defended the board of elders, which he said had been fielding criticism from members who felt leaders had taken too long to respond to the crisis.He said leaders had deliberated during multiple hourslong meetings Monday and Tuesday and were following the guidance they’d long gotten from their now-former senior pastor.

“If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve heard Pastor Robert say, ‘Before we can move, we need to hear God,’” Fambro said.

Fambro also told employees he and the other elders “have great compassion” for Clemishire and don’t condone what happened to her.

“You won’t hear us try to explain it away,” Fambro said.

But, he added, that doesn’t mean “we don’t love Pastor Robert, that we’re not defending him.”

He then spoke extensively about the profound impact Morris had on his life and on the lives of tens of thousands of church members. Fambro encouraged the audience not to let the revelations of child sex abuse make them lose sight of the good that God had done — and would continue to do — through Gateway and Morris.

“So yes, there is an anointing on this house. Yes, there is an anointing on Pastor Robert,” Fambro said. “But both/and, yes? There was some stuff that was done. They both can exist.”

Fambro asked the staff to pray for Morris’ family, including his son James Morris, who is associate senior pastor and had been scheduled to succeed his father upon his planned retirement next year. Robert Morris is still pulling for Gateway, Fambro said, which was why he is stepping down.

“Pastor Robert wants to see Gateway Church succeed in the body of Christ,” Fambro said. “Pastor Robert wanted to resign to not be a distraction.”