Who Are Pastor Robert Morris’s Wife and Kids? The Gateway Church Founder Resigned Amid Scandal

Sexual abuse is often an open secret in the world of megachurches. Now, pastor Robert Morris faces ramifications with his family.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 20 2024, Published 12:53 p.m. ET

After a year filled with church scandals from TD Jakes’s association with Sean Combs to Dr. Tony Evans’s unnamed “sin” that caused his resignation, Pastor Robert Morris of the famed Gateway Church in Dallas is the latest victim of his own ways. He announced his resignation on June 18, 2024, shortly after an accusation against him was made public. Morris, who was Donald Trump’s faith advisor, is dealing with the fallout with his wife and children.

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The now 54-year-old accuser, Cindy Clemishire, claimed she was just 12 years old when Morris, a minister at the time, started sexually abusing her. He does not deny her very serious allegations, and the church elders claimed that while they knew he had an affair when he was in his early 20s, they didn’t know the extent to which it was abuse and nonconsensual. But who are Morris’s wife and kids, and did they know about his crimes?

Robert and Debbie Morris on Daystar Television Network
Source: Facebook/@PsRobertMorris

Robert and Debbie Morris on Daystar Television Network

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Pastor Robert Morris’s wife, Debbie Morris, has been married to him since before the abuse.

Morris met his wife, Debbie, when they were just kids. “I have always said I met Robert in the fifth grade, but Robert is sure we met in sixth,” Debbie wrote in a Gateway Church blog. “We attended the same church and youth group, but we really didn’t know each other … I was quiet and a rule keeper, and he was never far from trouble.”

She added, “On our youth group trips, the leadership always threatened to send Robert home on a Greyhound bus! And I will say his shenanigans were epic! (I won’t elaborate … I wouldn’t want to give any ideas to impressionable minds.) Amazingly though, he never got kicked off a trip.”

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Debbie was charmed by Morris. “In spite of our differences, when I was 17 and Robert was 16, he asked me out. At the end of our date, we were standing on the back porch, and I was fidgeting with a hanging plant. My dad opened the back door and said, ‘Deb, it’s time to come in.’ I said that I would be right there! I was truly embarrassed. But then Robert kissed me goodnight, and I fell in love.”

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In the years since their first date, Debbie claimed that she “re-fall[s] in love with him every day.” Is she still falling in love with him daily through all of these scandals? Did she know the extent of his abuse? Debbie and Robert married in May 1980 when they were just 18 and 19 years old. His abuse of Clemishire began on Christmas in 1982.

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Morris said in a statement: "When I was in my early twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady in a home where I was staying. It was kissing and petting and not intercourse, but it was wrong. This behavior happened on several occasions over the next few years."

He continued: "In March of 1987, this situation was brought to light, and it was confessed and repented of. I submitted myself to the Elders of Shady Grove Church and the young lady’s father. They asked me to step out of ministry and receive counseling and freedom ministry, which I did. Since that time, I have walked in purity and accountability in this area."

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"Two years later, in March of 1989, I stepped back into ministry with the full blessing of the elders and her father. In October of 1989, Debbie and I met with her and her family, and I asked their forgiveness, and they graciously forgave me," he added, concluding with: "This sin was dealt with correctly by confession and repentance, which I did in 1987 and 1989."

Following Morris's statement, the church's board of elders released its own statement accepting his resignation and noting that it would be hiring a law firm to investigate further.

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Debbie and Robert Morris had three kids while creating their own megachurch.

In 2000, Morris and his wife founded Gateway Church, where Morris has been the senior pastor ever since. But as they were creating the church, they were also building their family. They have three children together: James, Josh, and Elaine. All three of the Morris children work directly with Gateway Church, as do their spouses.

James married his wife, Bridgette, in January 2009, and they now have three kids together, Parker, Mitchell, and Brae. James is an associate senior pastor, while Bridgette is an executive pastor of ministry experience and communication, leading Gateway Women.

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Josh stepped up as a pastor in 2017 after 13 years of marriage to his wife, Hannah. Hannah actually created a brand called BibL which creates fun products and games for kids to introduce religion to their lives in a fun way. They have two kids, Grady and Willow, who are now in their teenage years.

Finally, Elaine married Ethan Fisher in 2010. Ethan is a pastor at the Houston location of Gateway Church, which he leads with Elaine, who is also a pastor. They celebrated their 14th anniversary on June 19, 2024, and have four kids: Addelynn, Katelynn, Preston, and Jackson. This means that Debbie and Robert Morris are grandparents to nine grandchildren, expanding their family (and those affected by the scandal) even further.

Report online or in-person sexual abuse of a child or teen by calling the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 or visiting childhelp.org. Learn more about the warning signs of child abuse at RAINN.org.

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