VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - John Blanchard, who served as pastor for Rock Church in Virginia Beach, has stepped down from his position after being arrested for solicitation of prostitution in Chesterfield County last week.
Blanchard was one of 17 men from Virginia Beach and Maryland arrested during a two-day sting in the county.
Records show Blanchard was arrested on Friday and detail his specific charges and bond information. Click here to read the entire arrest warrant.
He was seen in a video holding service at Rock Church on Sunday.
According to Chesterfield County Police Chief Colonel Jeffrey Katz, after interacting online, the men knocked on a motel room door expecting to be greeted by an underage girl with whom they had previously arranged a sexual encounter. Instead, they were greeted by a detective.
“The innocence of a young child, that’s something we take very seriously in Chesterfield. That’s why we run these operations that are geared people that are trying to have sex with underage children,” Major Mike Louth said.
Rock Church released the following statement on Blanchard stepping down:
"Under the guidance of our legal counsel, We can not make a statement or comment concerning the accusations against Rev. John Blanchard at this time. We are all committed to walking in integrity and truth at Rock Church International and will continue to take steps to do so. Pastor Blanchard has voluntarily stepped back as lead pastor and from all his ministerial duties until this present situation is totally resolved. During this season, Bishop Anne Gimenez will be stepping in as Lead Pastor and sharing the pulpit with Pastor Robin Blanchard. 1 John 3:18
"As followers of Christ, we must remember that redemption, salvation, grace, mercy and healing are all gifts given to the children of God. Although everyone must address their own convictions and consequences, our assignment as believers is not to condemn, but to be agents of God’s love, healing, justice, and reconciliation. (Romans 3:23-“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”) If we are to walk in eternity with Christ, our position must be one of truth, love, faith, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.
"Thank you for your prayers and support. The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and we appreciate all of those who have reached out to be an encouragement to us! We would ask that the privacy of the Blanchard family be respected as they walk through this difficult journey together.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) -Ephesians 2:4-5
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."