"I forgave him. I couldn't understand it. I would have never done that," Charles says.
The church drama lasted seven years. The divorce became final in 2000, and First Baptist eventually voted to retain Charles as its pastor. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday at First Baptist, and was presented with a large photograph depicting Jesus counseling him as he prepared a sermon. Charles painstakingly posed for the photographer, with a professional model playing Jesus.
"Every Sunday I had to preach, no matter what," Charles says of those days when he was going through the divorce. "I couldn't get up and say I had a horrible day yesterday. It kept me in the Word of God -- praying, trusting God, watching people saved and watching the church grow."
Few would question Charles' toughness, but during that time he revealed another side. He stopped treating Andy as his enemy.
He started treating him as his only son.
Charles fought for his relationship with his son as hard as he fought to stay in the pulpit. Maybe harder. He did it with chips and salsa. He kept inviting his son to lunch at Mexican restaurants.
And Andy kept accepting.
The meals were excruciating. Both men were still angry; they weren't good at chitchat. But it was a way to keep talking. The meals became a ritual, like communion.
Charles then went public with his support for his son.
In 1995, Andy formed North Point Community Church with a group of friends. When Charles heard the news, he interrupted his regular order of service one Sunday morning to tell his congregation.
"And he has my blessing," he said.
Charles did something else that some pastors shy from: He sought professional help. He asked his son to join him in seeing a counselor.
It was just another way in which Charles refused to fit the caricature of a simple "Bible thumper." He had defied Southern Baptist theology by saying women should be able to preach. He installed 12 Step programs in his church and an orchestra. He was a techno-geek who loved computers and photography.
The counseling sessions between father and son were at times explosive.
Emotions spilled out in the open.
One night, Andy invited his father over to his house to see his wife and children. The night ended with both men yelling at each other "like middle-school girls" in the driveway, Andy recalls.
Still, they kept going.
"They weren't too smart, too spiritual or too proud to allow somebody to come in and help them navigate all of that anger," says Andy's wife, Sandra. "Their relationship with one another was more important than their pride."
A pivotal moment came one day when Charles called his son with a request: "Hey, can you preach for me this Sunday?"
Twelve years after he left the church as his father's enemy, Andy returned as his son. His sermon title: "The Cost of Following Christ."
Afterward, Charles invited his son into In Touch's television studio to talk about the sermon. His face lit up with joy as he bragged about his son's church. He told Andy on camera that he didn't have a father growing up so he didn't know how to be a father at times.
He leaned forward in his chair and looked at Andy with a huge smile before saying, "I'm absolutely delighted to have Andy with me again."
Andy sat upright in his chair with his hands folded in his lap. His smile was tight and strained.
"It's great to be back," he said.
Asked today whether he would have ever cut off his son, Charles quickly shakes his head.