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Palm Beach Gardens pastor surrenders credentials

Palm Beach Gardens pastor surrenders credentials

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Palm Beach Gardens pastor surrenders credentials

Feb. 3, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0436}

An e-Review Feature
By Tita Parham

LAKELAND — The Rev. Clark Pickett voluntarily surrendered his ministerial credentials Jan. 26 after a complaint of sexual misconduct was filed against him Jan. 14.

Pickett had been serving as senior pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church of Palm Beach Gardens. The complaint alleged Pickett had been involved in inappropriate relationships with several women.

The church is part of the conference's Atlantic Central District. The Rev. Michael Oliver, superintendent of the district, met with leaders of the church and the congregation the weekend after Pickett surrendered his credentials to explain the situation and next steps for the church.

"The United Methodist Church expects its clergy to meet the highest standards for moral and ethical behavior," Oliver said to members during the church's Sunday morning worship services. "Sexual misconduct is a violation of the sacred trust held by clergy and counter to the mission and ministry of the church."

Sexual misconduct is a chargeable offense according to the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, the denomination's book of law. Through the process of dealing with the situation outlined in the Discipline Pickett could have chosen to contest the complaint, but he would then have faced the possibility of suspension, an investigation and a church trial by his peers.

Oliver told the congregation Pickett admitted to the allegations and chose instead to surrender his credentials in order to avoid "causing further pain for his family, the church and all involved."

"Our goal at this point is to bring healing and restoration to the congregation and everyone involved in this matter," Oliver said, adding he will be working closely with the church's staff pastor parish relations committee regarding ways the church can offer assistance to the congregation and all persons and their families who have been affected.

Oliver will also be working with the committee to secure clergy leadership for the church. The Rev. John Braden will be assisting with pastoral responsibilities until either an interim or permanent pastor can be appointed to the church. Braden is a retired United Methodist minister from the Louisiana Conference and has been on staff at the church for about 14 years.


This article relates to Clergy Misconduct.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.