A student minister at Christ's Church in Mandarin is accused of molesting a 15-year-old at the church.
David Lawson, 38, was arrested Wednesday on four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim older than 12 but younger than 16.
Jacksonville police said they received information on Dec. 18 that Lawson engaged in sexual activity with a minor.
Police said they obtained "intelligence" Wednesday that corroborated the information.
Lawson was taken into custody at the church in the 6000 block of Greenland Road and transported to the police station to be interviewed by the Sex Crimes Unit.
Police said Lawson confessed and was booked into jail, where he was placed on suicide watch. He was released Thursday on $38,000 bond.
According to the church's Facebook page, Lawson was in charge of the ninth- to 12th-grade ministry at Christ's Church. He had been there for just less than seven years and worked in different capacities, but was usually involved in one or more of the youth ministries, according to the church's attorney. Lawson is married and has children.
"We are all shocked and totally surprised at the situation that has come to light concerning the allegations that have been brought forth against Mr. David Lawson and that has lead to his termination of employment at our church effective this date, January 3, 2013," the church said in a statement. "As more is known, we will ask our attorney, Kelly Mathis, to speak on our behalf."
Mathis said she doesn't believe there were ever any concerns expressed about Lawson in the past. She said the church didn't know about this incident or the police investigation until Wednesday, when Lawson was arrested.
Mathis said the church does extensive background checks in the hiring process, and nothing came up on Lawson. She said the church does background checks on any volunteers that work with children.
Mathis added that the church plans to review the policies and procedures but believe they are extensive. The church was working Thursday to notify its members of the arrest.
Parents at the church were in disbelief Thursday at the thought a minister is accused of engaging in sexual acts at a church, just feet from where many of them send their children to preschool and where many of them go to worship.
"You can't trust anybody. Trust your children, listen to them, and just look out for any signs," parent Vickie Lee said.
"It makes me nauseous. It makes me sick," said Heidi Valenti, whose children attend the school and church. "The world is a scary place. It used to not be like that, you know?"
Valenti said her experience has been a good one at the church, and she feels her kids are safe.
"It's a wonderful, wonderful church," she said. "My older daughter and son are very, very involved. She went on a mission trip and she's 16 and they're her second family."
Valenti said firing Lawson was the right thing to do, "but obviously some further investigation needs to be done to know if there's other children involved or even his past and other places he may have been employed at."
Channel 4 spoke with a teenager who knows Lawson and was a member of the church youth group he led. The teenager asked to remain anonymous, but wanted to share their feelings about Lawson.
"I couldn't believe it. It's so out there," said the teenager. "We all love him to death. Just a great guy. Always there for us."
This teen said everyone thought highly of Lawson and never saw any evidence of the crime to which police said he confessed.