Dad of man cheated on by wife and pastor angry at online posts
The father of a man whose wife was caught having an affair with her Co Down pastor 18 months after he married the couple has urged people to be "respectful" of his family's pain on social media.
Pastor Gareth Mills (41) was sacked from the 'super-church' he helped found in Newtownards after details of his affair came to light last Thursday.
On Sunday members of Thriving Life Church (TLC) wiped away tears as they were told that the "unrepentant" father-of-one has no intention of ending the illicit relationship with the 22-year-old family friend, who began attending the church around four years ago.
It was there she met her husband and the pair were both baptised by Pastor Mills, who has since been removed from the church leadership.
His 'worship pastor' wife Melissa has also stood down from her position in order to deal with "this painful reality" for her family.
There was no sign of Pastor Mills or his wife at their home in Bangor on Monday. A neighbour would only confirm they had both left the area in recent days.
The father of the aggrieved husband said his family has been hurt over some online commentary from TLC supporters and members. Several shared pictures of Sunday's service on social media using the hashtag "family" and thanked friends for their support.
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"Some of what has been posted on social media has infuriated me with people in the church talking about how hurt they are feeling," he said.
"With respect, this isn't about the church congregation, it's about my son and the families directly involved.
"I know it's very difficult to control what people write but they need to be respectful of and sensitive to what everybody is going through at this point in time.
"These completely unacceptable comments are hurting people who are already in great pain."
The church did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. But one member said: "The events of the last few days have been devastating and this has ripped our church family apart."