JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Northside church has been at the center of a controversy for nearly a month since allowing a registered sex offender to return to the pulpit.
In 2009, Darrell Gilyard pleaded guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation. The victims were underage girls in his congregation at Shiloh Baptist Church.
In the past few weeks, Gilyard began preaching at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church on the Northside. His new position drew protests from other pastors and the New Black Panther Party.
Since taking the position, Gilyard would not speak to television reporters. Channel 4 looked up his address on the sex offender registry and went to a motel where he was staying in North Jacksonville.
The first time reporters approached Gilyard, he dropped his things and slammed the door. Moments later, he came outside and got into his car without saying a word.
Since joining Christ Tabernacle on North Davis Street, the congregation has had to adapt to changes. Under the terms of Gilyard's release, court documents show he is not allowed to have "unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old." The church agreed to ban children from Sunday service.
Sunday, a woman tried to bring a 2-year-old boy she babysits to services, but was turned away.
"They said for the next two weeks, no children are allowed," Wanda Evans said. "This is the second Sunday, no children, so next week's Sunday, kids will be able to be allowed."
Last week, members of the new Black Panther Party of Jacksonville promised to protest every Sunday that Gilyard was a pastor at the church. This Sunday, however, there were no demonstrations.
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