SHREVEPORT, La. — A Louisiana pastor has asked his congregation for forgiveness after he was arrested Wednesday night for possession of methamphetamine, a drug that he said he wrongfully turned to in attempting to find relief from the pressures and pains of life.
“A few months ago, in a time of weakness, I attempted to ease the pain in the wrong way,” wrote Andy Harris to members of The Church of the Cross in Haughton. “I have sinned, and I have asked the Lord to forgive me. I have asked my family to forgive me. And I am asking you all—all of you—to forgive me.”
According to the Shreveport Times, during an unrelated investigation that did not pertain to him (the details of which are unknown), Harris, 56, told members of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office that he was in possession of meth. He let investigators search the parsonage, where 3.4 grams of meth were found, along with a device for smoking and a straw for snorting.
Harris was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, and was jailed on $5,000 bail. He also resigned from his position at the church, where he had been preaching since 1996. The Church of the Cross is known for its towering 199-foot cross, which Harris helped to establish.
His members and colleagues expressed sadness after learning of his arrest, and his name was removed from the church website.
A letter was read to the congregation on Sunday in which Harris outlined that the past few years of his life have felt like a “pressure cooker,” as he dealt with betrayals, a divorce in the family, the sicknesses of loved ones, and the daily challenges of serving in the ministry. He said that in the midst of all the pain he was enduring, he wrongfully turned to meth for solace.
“I recently preached a sermon on the topic of ‘How Much Grace Do You Need?’ Truly, I need all grace to abound toward me at this time,” Harris wrote in a letter read aloud by secretary and treasurer Doyle Dempsey. “On Tuesday, the director of a nationally-recognized counseling center for ministers is flying down to help [my wife] Cheryl and me. He will provide us the spiritual and physical treatment we need right now.”
He asked those listening to pray for him and his family.
“Pray that God will heal us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Pray that we can rest in body, soul and spirit. Pray that God will supernaturally supply all our financial needs,” Harris wrote. “And finally, pray that all of the good the Lord has done through us will outshine all of the bad the devil has done to us.”
Dempsey, being moved in reading the letter, said that the development had affected him deeply, but also warned those in attendance that none are above what had happened as all men are just one sinful decision away from destruction.
“My heart is broken this morning,” Dempsey said. “I have to be honest: At times, I’m angry. We’re all experiencing all manner of emotions today. I’ve been through them all in the last few days. But one thing has not changed: my faith is unshaken.”
“Although we do not condone his behavior in this matter, we are all eternally grateful to Pastor Harris for his years of dedicated service to this church body. It is the desire of the board of the directors to help him and his family in any way that we can,” he continued. “Lest we forget: We are all just mortal men—one decision away from certain destruction. It is our Christian duty to love a brother in Christ who has fallen, and we plan to do so with the help and support of this body of believers.”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 reads, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”