Confused megachurch pastor denies church seizure reports

Tavener Smith
Pastor Tavener Smith will speak at the venue church on February 7, 2022. | |

Pastor Tavener Smith of Venue Church in Chattanooga, a megachurch in Tennessee, said his church faced foreclosure less than a year after staff resigned over rumors of an affair with a former church employee. Denied reports that there were

Smith told his Instagram followers that reports of church closures were “absolutely untrue.”

The post was an apparent response to a July 31 report by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, stating that the venue church has defaulted on the loan for the property at 6401 Lee Highway. The notice of foreclosure and sale indicated an auction scheduled for August 24th.

The venue secured an original loan of $2.8 million for the property in 2019, according to the notice. Hamilton County records show that the property is worth $4.86 million.

“First of all, it’s absolutely not true. Venue Church is not closed,” Smith said. He assures me that I can say that with confidence.”

“The best is yet to come for Venue Church….It’s not over. We’re just getting started,” Smith added.

He invited believers to Sunday services, where he said he would “set the record straight.”

Attempts by The Christian Post to reach Smith and Venue Church were unsuccessful.

Venue Church, a non-denominational church with about 2,000 members, was hit with a scandal last December after Smith was accused of having an extramarital affair.

Before the recent turmoil, Venue Church had become one of the fastest growing congregations in America.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained audio of a meeting between Smith and more than 100 church volunteers at the fast-growing Venue Church on Dec. 17.

In January, a Facebook page critical of the church called “The Venue is NO Church” published an image showing that Venue Church now only operates from its Chattanooga campus on Lee Highway.

Venue Church previously listed a campus in North Georgia, but that location is no longer listed on the church website.

Around that time, Smith embarked on a sabbatical after a video of him kissing a church staff member who was not his wife went viral online and received national media attention.

Upon returning from that sabbatical, Smith confessed to the congregation that he had been involved in an “improper relationship” and asked for forgiveness.

“Before I preach a word today, I’m just here to say I’m sorry. So many things I said, did, didn’t say, and got away with were wrong.” Journalist Julie Royce Smith said, according to a recording of the apology posted on YouTube by .

“I have been involved in an inappropriate relationship and I would like to apologize for any embarrassment, heartache or confusion I have caused you. I will be back,” he added. “As your leader and pastor, I have come to you to publicly admit my mistakes and to truly ask for forgiveness. Thinking about it makes me sad.”

Smith, who has three children, and his wife, Danielle, began divorce proceedings in May 2021.

In 2008, Smith was hired as a student pastor at Redemption World Outreach in Greenville, South Carolina. This church he was headed by Ron and Hope Carpenter. Smith’s website lists Carpenter as a mentor.

In 2012, the Smiths moved to Chattanooga to launch Venue Church.

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