Leaders of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana, revealed that their pastor, Jordan Daniel "J.D." Hall, has been abusing the prescription drug Xanax after news broke that the church had removed him from ministry.
In a statement released Monday, church officials said that several days following a June 5 incident, "it came to the attention of church leadership ... that our lead pastor, Jordan Hall, had fallen into a dependency upon prescription alprazolam (Xanax), characterized by use that exceeded his prescribed dosage."
Details of the June 5 incident were not shared.
Xanax, the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States, is generally used to treat anxiety disorders and anxiety caused by depression. The drug is also "extremely addictive when used long-term," according to the Addiction Center.
Church officials said once the discovery was made, "Pastor Hall tendered his resignation from the pastorate shortly thereafter on June 8th, under the assumption that he had become disqualified from eldership as detailed in 1 Timothy 3."
Fellowship Baptist Church subsequently voted to accept his resignation.
Hall, known for his scathing criticisms of Christian leaders on his now-defunct polemics website Pulpit & Pen and, more recently, Protestia, has also been axed from those ministries, Protestia announced in a statement on Sunday.
Fellowship Baptist Church leaders made it clear in their statement Monday that they were unaware the pastor was struggling with a drug dependency when they rejected his offer to resign on May 14.
Hall initially offered to resign after his arrest on DUI and weapons charges. In its statement at the time, the church suggested Hall was "potentially addicted to working."
A report from the Sidney Police Department cited by The Sidney Herald said Hall, 40, was arrested on May 11 at approximately 11 p.m. on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and multiple traffic violations while driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs. An incident report shows that when police approached Hall, he spoke slowly, his eyes were watery, closed slowly and deliberately and his speech was slurred and mumbled.
He also stumbled, displayed poor balance and performed poorly on a field sobriety test. No alcohol, however, was found in his system when a blood alcohol test was administered. The report added that he also had a Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Shield handgun, which was found under his coat in an inside-the-waistband holster during his arrest.
"Due to the testimony of Pastor Hall regarding a known vitamin deficiency that he insisted was to blame for his lack of coordination, the church had voted unanimously to reject his resignation, believing that the situation did not disqualify him from the pastorate," Fellowship Baptist leaders said in their Monday statement.
"The church decided, instead, to insist that Pastor Hall submit to a minimum 3-month sabbatical to address his physical health issues. The results of a toxicology screening requested by law enforcement were pending (the results of the screening are still outstanding at the time of this writing), and the church agreed to revisit his qualification if the report found problematic substances in his system, but no member vocalized any suspicion of drug abuse."
"If the church had been aware at that point of Mr. Hall's prescription drug abuse, the decision regarding his tendered resignation would likely have been different," the statement continued. "However, we believe that we acted appropriately given the information we had at the time."
Fellowship Baptist Church leaders are now ministering to Hall's family and have encouraged him to "seek professional treatment and work toward the restoration of his mind and body, and the reconciliation of his relationships with God and family."
According to data from Barna, about 20% of pastors struggle with some form of addiction, including alcohol and prescription drug addiction.
Joshua Hall, lead pastor of Selmore Baptist Church in Ozark, Missouri, who identified himself as "J.D. Hall's big brother," said his brother still has his support.
"I will not defend all that he's said and done. I just want to publicly say I love him and stand by him," Joshua Hall tweeted Monday night. "To my fellow Christians, please consider Matthew 5:43-48 before you post. Thank you for your prayers. Blessings."
Tzedakah Ministries, which describes itself as "a ministry that seeks to equip Christians and churches to reach the Jewish people with the truth of Messiah Jesus," also urged prayers for J.D. Hall.
"All of us could be where he is now. This should be the message we take with us as we hurt for you all," the ministry replied to Joshua Hall's Twitter post. "Caution must be the word of the day. Prayer for all of us and concern for your brother's spiritual and mental well-being should be our priority. I wish him well. Truly."