In my Google news feed, I get stories directed to me that have the word “Methodist” in the headline. I was discouraged when I found another story about allegations of sexual abuse by a United Methodist pastor.
But I was even more concerned when after a little searching I found this 1992 story about the same United Methodist pastor, a former district superintendent, a repeated candidate for bishop, and a frequent delegate to General Conference, who had lived as a bisexual, died of an AIDS-related illness, infected his wife with HIV that led to her death, and tried to seduce several young males over the years of his ministry. None of this came out during his life or, apparently, caused him to question his own fitness to be a minister of Christ. I pray that he has peace with God.
In August, I posted a question about whether we kept a list of pastors who have been disciplined or moved after sexual misconduct. Yesterday, that post got this comment:
As a victim-turned-survivor of clergy sexual misconduct in the UMC, I have absolutely no faith in “the system.” After presenting our D.S. with a boatload of evidence, and after my abuser admitted to a chargeable offense in the presence of the D.S., he didn’t even receive a slap on the wrist. Instead, he was allowed to threaten that he and his wife would come after US if word got out. I’ve been a member of the UMC my entire life – born into it, baptized in it, married in it, children baptized in it. Now I can barely drive by a Methodist church without getting physically ill. If a list truly exists, then that is pretty doggone amazing – I wonder how many years it took and how many attempts poor victims had to make with the UMC just to get their abusers out of there?
Ron Goetz had posted earlier a web site that lists news reports of clergy child sexual abuse. The site looks like it has not been updated in a while, but its existence does show that we United Methodists have our own clergy abuse problem.
I have little first-hand knowledge of these issues, but I do continue to wonder how well we as a church deal with them.
A friend asked me this question: Do United Methodists publish lists of pastors who have been accused of sexual abuse, or do they sweep it under the rug?
The question came to mind today when I read about the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston’s release of some names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
I know the issue is not simple, but I do wonder why we don’t do the same thing. Surely we could and should release the names of pastors who have been disciplined, moved, or otherwise required official sanction as a result of sexual sins.