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Florida Conference pastor faces possible church trial

Florida Conference pastor faces possible church trial

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Florida Conference pastor faces possible church trial

April 12, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0655}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — A United Methodist pastor in Florida faces a possible church trial after being charged with five offenses under The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, the church’s law book.

The Florida Conference Committee on Investigation has found reasonable grounds exist to support the charges of crime, sexual misconduct, two counts of immorality, and disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church against the Rev. Michael Frazier, who last served Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church in Daytona Beach in 2004.

Frazier has been on voluntary leave of absence since April 2004. He could lose his ministerial orders if found guilty.

Ordained as an elder in full connection in 1997, Frazier also served Zion United Methodist Church in Ocala from 1994 to 1998 and as chaplain at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach while serving Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church.

“This is a painful and difficult situation for everyone involved,” Florida Conference Bishop Timothy Whitaker said. “I am committed to protecting the public from misuse of the ministerial office, and I am committed to a fair treatment of clergy against whom allegations are made.”

In April 2004 the state of Florida charged Frazier with having a sexual relationship with a 17-year old girl, a second-degree felony. Those charges were resolved when Frazier’s attorney reached a plea agreement with the state attorney’s office. Under the agreement the original charges were reduced to a charge of a lesser offense. Frazier entered a plea of no contest, with adjudication of guilt being withheld. The court accepted the plea, and Frazier received a sentence that did not include incarceration.

According to paragraph 2707 of the 2004 Book of Discipline, United Methodist church trials “are to be regarded as an expedient of last resort. Only after every reasonable effort has been made to correct any wrong and adjust any existing difficulty should steps be taken to institute a trial.”

If a church trial does take place, it will be scheduled and presided over by a United Methodist bishop other than Whitaker, with a jury comprising clergy in full connection within the Florida Conference, according to paragraph 2713 of the Book of Discipline.


This article relates to Board of Ordained Ministry/Clergy Misconduct.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.