Support Church’s Efforts to Refuse Appointment of Unstable Pastor

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Target: Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Prelate of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Fifth Episcopal District

Goal: To convince district to appoint another reverend to lead San Francisco Bethel AME church

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in San Francisco is a thriving, respected church that was led by recently-promoted Reverend J. Edgar Boyd for the past 20 years. Church members and officials rejected his replacement, Reverend John J. Hunter, who was the subject of ongoing scandals during his tenure at a Los Angeles Church. Tell AME’s fifth district to support Bethel AME church’s refusal of Reverend Hunter’s appointment.

Bethel AME church is a generous, caring, and devoted congregation that has been in the city of San Francisco for over 150 years. Every Friday it opens up the Bethel Food Pantry to provide food to those in need. It owns the Bethel Federal Credit Union, providing low interest loans and financial counseling to its members. And it established the Allen Community Development Corporation, which empowers innercity residents in San Francisco. With an excellent reputation in the community, it is no wonder that local church officials drafted an emergency resolution to bar Reverend John J. Hunter from becoming its new pastor.

Reverend John J. Hunter had led First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles for the past eight years. Amidst ongoing scandals in his short tenure, Reverend Hunter’s reputation was questionable at best. A federal tax investigation, sexual harassment suit, and personal spending spree with the church’s credit cards were all part of his past. Though he has stated that he has paid back the $300,000 he owed in back taxes and the $122,000 he “borrowed” from the church for his spree, it is not wise to now give him the leadership position of such a thriving and highly respected church.

San Francisco Bethel AME church has decided to reject AME Fifth District’s appointment of Reverend John J. Hunter, demanding that Bishop T. Larry Kirkland create a conciliation committee to “review the charges, issues and concerns” raised by church officials. Bethel AME deserves an upstanding pastor who will protect his flock and uphold its honest reputation in the community. Please sign the petition urging Bishop T. Larry Kirkland to choose a more suitable candidate to lead Bethel AME’s congregation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Bishop T. Larry Kirkland,

African Methodist Episcopal Church is a highly respected spiritual organization that has contributed greatly to its communities throughout the years. However, your recent decision to appoint Reverend John J. Hunter to newly pastorless Bethel AME in San Francisco is precarious and fraught with problems. Reverend Hunter has a longstanding history of legal and financial troubles and we ask that you reconsider his appointment.

Reverend John J. Hunter has been found guilty of tax evasion, mishandling church credit cards and was involved in a sexual harassment suit. He has claimed repayment of the tax and church monies, but it still seems unwise to put him in charge over a new congregation and its finances. Please consider appointing a reverend who will protect the flock and not harm it.

Forgiveness is a vital and crucial element of healthy, vibrant relationships in any community. However, the person who committed the injury or wrong should be given time to change his/her ways, as well as be given a break from serving in his/her current position. Illegal actions that include tax fraud and stealing from a church should not be rewarded with a new congregation to lead.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

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