Hammond’s First Baptist pastor fired for ‘sin’
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 July 31, 2012 4:24PM
Pastor Jack Schaap of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
First Baptist press release
The following press release was posted Tuesday on the First Baptist Church website:
Hammond, IN–At this time, we deeply regret the need to announce that First Baptist Church has dismissed our pastor, Dr. Jack Schaap, due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor. First Baptist Church is in full cooperation with our local authorities in their investigation of this matter. Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people.
We ask that everyone pray for the families involved and pray that the situation will be handled in a Christ honoring manner. We look forward to the days ahead as we continue to service the needs of our surrounding community and the Chicago area.
Updated: July 31, 2012 10:47PM
HAMMOND — The pastor of a fundamentalist mega church has been dismissed because of a “sin” that’s being investigated by the Lake County Sheriff’s police.
Jack Schaap, 54, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond since 2001, was fired by a deacon board, said Eddie Wilson, director of public relations for the church.
Wilson said Tuesday that church officials didn’t believe anything criminal occurred, but information was turned over to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department “for the sake of transparency and honesty.”
Wilson said members of the deacon board will address the congregation Wednesday night. “The church will move on in the process of calling a new pastor,” he said.
Wilson said Schaap was in seclusion with his wife, Cindy, daughter of the late Jack Hyles, the pastor who built up the First Baptist Church and co-founded Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point at 8400 Burr St.
“They’re trying to reconcile their marriage,” Wilson said. “The church will move on and begin the process of calling a new pastor.”
While declining to offer details on the dismissal, Wilson said church bylaws state that adultery is grounds for dismissal.
Sheriff John Buncich confirmed the church contacted him and Schaap’s actions were under investigation by detectives. “I can’t confirm the name of the individual who’s subject of the investigation,” said Buncich who said more information would be forthcoming Wednesday.
A news release from the church stated: “Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people. We ask that everyone pray for the families involved and pray that the situation will be handled in a Christ honoring manner.”
One of the early mega churches, First Baptist Church, at 507 State St., has more than 15,000 members, Wilson said.
It’s famous for its church outreach that in the 1970s used more than 200 buses to round up parishioners and bring them to church from across the region.
According to information on the church website, Schaap graduated from Hyles-Anderson bible college in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in pastoral theology.
He and Cindy Hyles married in 1979 and Schaap began teaching at Hyles-Anderson. The couple have two children. He became vice president of the college in 1996 and became pastor at First Baptist following Hyles’ death in 2001.
The church continued to grow under Schaap and in 2005, it moved into a new 7,500-seat auditorium.