On Friday, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III joined singer Ariana Grande on stage at Aretha Franklin's memorial.
Images of the moment showed Ellis holding Grande with his fingers pressed against her chest, and some viewers called out that Grande appeared to be uncomfortable with the interaction.
Eliis has since spoken to AP and issued an apology:
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. ... I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”
He added: “The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin.”
“I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis said. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
What was up with that pastors hand? pic.twitter.com/M8Ypgm7fQB— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) August 31, 2018