Gass, 60, Baypoint’s founder and lead pastor, was arrested Wednesday after police received a call that a man shoved a woman out of a vehicle.
Gass did not address the specifics of the incident with his congregation during two morning services. After the first service, he told The Daily News that police reports of the incident “were not as they would seem.”
He denied hitting the woman riding in his car or trying to push her out of the vehicle. He also said the bag of cocaine had been found in the church parking lot. He said he had kept it for a meeting during which church leaders were to discuss how it came to be on church property.
Gass’ appearances at the church services were brief. Associate Pastor Terry Ray delivered the sermons.
Wearing blue jeans and a short-sleeved red shirt, Gass spoke in a strained voice. Ray and another pastor stood by his side and at times put their arms around him.
During the second service, the woman Gass is accused of abusing joined him on stage. The Daily News’ policy is not to identify potential victims of domestic violence unless they agree to be identified.
Gass said Ray and another associate pastor, along with elders, would run the day-to-day operations of the church and the worship services.
Gass said he would attend services but would not be involved in church management or the handling of finances while he worked “to get this over.”
Reading from the Book of Timothy, Gass noted that the Bible calls for church leaders to “be above reproach,” and that given his arrest and criminal charges, he had to step away.
Gass had plenty of supporters at the church.
When he told the congregation he loved them, a woman from the audience shouted out, “We love you, too.”
Most of the 60 people who attended the first service Sunday gave Gass standing ovation after his address.
After the first service several people joined Gass in the back of the worship center, and many hugged him and offered their support.
Ray did not directly address Gass’ situation.
But in a reference to overall issues, including an effort to sell the church’s worship center, Ray said “we are at a point to make right decisions,” and that what action they took would reflect how the church handled adversity.
Ray also admonished church members to avoid “gossip” and “harsh words.”
None of the church members The Daily News attempted to interview would comment on Gass’ status or what consequences his situation would have on the church.
Before the criminal charges, Gass said the church was struggling.
Since 2008, attendance has dropped from 1,000 to less than 300, Gass said.
A 2011 divorce also had caused some members, including some of the church’s biggest donors, to leave, he said.