FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – When Doug Sauder was introduced as Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s new lead pastor he received a standing ovation.
“My reaction was, ‘is this really happening right now,’ it was an out of body experience,” Sauder told CBS4 News.
Sauder said he never expected to be leading one of Florida’s largest churches with 20,000 members on ten campuses.
“We’ve gone from what just happened, shock, to processing all the emotions and anger and then where we are at is the excitement stage,” he said in regards to the scandal that rocked the megachurch in early April.
That’s when Pastor Bob Coy, how led the church for 30 years, resigned over what was termed a “moral failure.”
Later another church pastor told the congregation that Coy had committed adultery and was habitually viewing pornography.
Sauder told CBS4 that he has not spoken to Coy for a couple of weeks but that he is on a journey of redemption.
“Right now he’s out of the area getting the help and support of his own soul and his family,” said Sauder.
Whether Coy will return to Calvary Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale, Sauder said simply, “only God knows.”
Sauder joined Calvary Chapel 14 years ago. He said he was born in Broward County and taught in public school. He is married and a father of three. He started a foster parent program and said he has a passion for ‘people who are broken, particularly children.
Sauder said he is now leading the church through a rebuilding process.
“Now we have to go through the pieces and figure out what we need to put together to move forward. It’s a process I’ve gone through, the staff has gone through and everyone has gone through,” Sauder said.
“To me that’s what leadership is about. It’s about skill in the way you lead and having the integrity of heart in the way you lead,” said Sauder.
Sauder already has many fans, including Bill and Janet McConnell who have been church members for five years.
“Excellent choice. There was no other choice,” said McConnell.
“He does teach the bible very clear, very plain, very easy to understand,” said Bill McConnell.
“I feel like we are healing. It is a new beginning a different time,” added Janet McConnell.
Sauder said that different time includes more accountability with church leadership.
“There has to be a desire on everyone’s part. That’s the culture we want to create but it’s up to the individual to decide I want that or I’m not going to tell them what I’m struggling with.”
Sauder said he can’t say whether there has been any drop-off in attendance since Bob Coy left.
He admits he has a different preaching style and not as charismatic as Coy, but he said he will ‘be himself.’