Here is a verbatim copy of the letter I wrote to be read to the members of the church at the July 1st meeting. This letter was written back in early June, but the Board decided not to read it until the July 1 meeting. Between the original writing and the reading there were many edits. But here is the full letter as read:
It is with great shame, embarrassment, regret and sorrow that I am writing you this letter. I very much wish I that I had the opportunity to talk to each of you personally, as that is what you deserve. I am sorry that this is not possible.Put simply, I have sinned. I have sinned against you, our church, and God. I have violated our Community Life Statement, your trust and my role as pastor. I am without excuse and am 100% responsible for the situation. Over the past 4 1/2 years, while your pastor, I have violated our Community Life Statement and Biblical teaching when it comes to sexual activity. I have had inappropriate sexual activity both with another man who is part of our congregation as well as with men outside our community. While I have struggled with same-sex attraction issues my whole life, there is no excuse for what I have done and I am 100% responsible for my actions and for the consequences to my actions. I have damaged our church and community by my sin and no words of contrition can undo that damage. I have failed as a pastor — both to the other person involved and to all of you. I have violated your trust as pastor and for that I am deeply sorry. I am more sorry and heartbroken than words can express for this sin and violation of trust.
All I can ask at this point is for your forgiveness. I have failed and I have sinned and I am without excuse. Please forgive me.I wish I had brought these issues to the Board and to you on my own. I did not. And for that I am sorry. I support and fully trust the leadership and authority of our Board and am 100% supportive of the actions the Board has taken so far. I also ask that you pray for them and follow their leadership through this process. On a personal note, I have begun a process of counseling, reflection, and healing. I am working with a team of people to help me navigate through my next steps personally and as a follower of Jesus Christ. Please know that I am committed to doing whatever I need to do in order to get healthy, experience God’s healing, try to fix the damage I have done to our community, and pursue Jesus Christ as a faithful disciple of his. I am no less committed to following Jesus today than I have ever been. I pray for restoration, reconciliation, and that someday I may earn back the trust I have so deeply violated. I covet your prayers during this difficult time in my life. I am literally heartbroken over the damage I have done, the relationships I have ruined, and the people I have betrayed. Please forgive me. Under His Undeserving Mercy, Ben