Former MLB Star Files Lawsuit Against Former Pastor

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski , FISM News


In some disturbing news at the cross-section of Christianity and sports, a former athlete is engaged in a legal battle with his former pastor.  Ben Zobrist, former MLB star and a Christian, filed a $6 million lawsuit last week against former minister Byron Yawn, who had pastored the Nashville-based Community Bible Church.  News broke last year that Yawn engaged in an extramarital affair with Zobrist’s wife, Julianna, while he was a member of the Chicago Cubs.  Zobrist was instrumental in breaking the team’s 108-year championship drought, leading the Cubs to victory in the 2016 World Series and earning a World Series MVP award.

In the years following the victory, the Zobrists developed a close relationship with Yawn while they attended Community Bible Church.  Yawn counseled Zobrist through various mental health crises and eventually joined Patriot Forward, the organization that Zobrist started to help those struggling with mental health.  All the while, the Zobrists were going through a marital crisis.  It was during this rocky period in their marriage that Yawn and Julianna Zobrist entered into an extramarital affair. Ben Zobrist eventually filed for divorce in May of 2019.

According to the lawsuit, Yawn also committed fraud against Zobrist’s organization and used his position as pastor take advantage of Zobrist’s fame for financial gain for his church.  In addition, Zobrist forfeited $8 million in 2019 to take time off from baseball to be with his wife in an attempt to save their marriage, all while his wife and their pastor were secretly engaged in a relationship.

Regardless of the outcome, this situation is tragic.  Zobrist retired from baseball in 2020, and Byron Yawn is no longer employed at Community Bible Church.  If nothing else, this lawsuit is a ghastly reminder of the presence of sin, even within the church.  It is also a sober warning to always live in such a way that pleases God, whether in secret or in public.