From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA North Carolina Bishop Mark W. Menees Resigns

Date 30 May 1996 13:38:45


May 29, 1996


     SALISBURY, N.C. (ELCA) -- Mark W. Menees, resigned as bishop
of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America and as an ELCA pastor effective May 25, 1996, following
allegations against him of sexual misconduct.
     Announcement of the resignation was made by the Rev. H.
George Anderson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, in a May 28 letter
to church leaders.
     Anderson informed Menees that the complaint involved an
adult woman for whom Menees had pastoral responsibility, and
Menees acknowledged that the complaint is true.  The relationship
lasted a period of years prior to Menees' election as bishop.
ELCA policy precludes identifying the complaining witness.
     Anderson expressed concern for all those affected by this
situation and this action: the complainant, Menees, his wife and
children, and the congregations of the North Carolina Synod.  He
said, "Ultimately, each one of us who has been affected by these
events needs all the gifts of the Triune God for healing and
     In a prepared statement Menees said, "Before I became
bishop, I violated my accountability to the Triune God, to the
whole church, and to my wife and family.  Because of this
transgression, I have resigned my positions in the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.  I believe in the power of redemption
that comes from confession and an earnest plea for forgiveness.
As God has the power to redeem us through his grace, I humbly ask
for your support and your prayers."
     A decision on interim leadership for the synod is still
pending.  Anderson will participate in the annual assembly of the
North Carolina Synod May 31-June 2 at Lenoir-Rhyne College,
Hickory, N.C.  Faith A. Ashton, Chapel Hill, N.C., vice president
of the synod, will preside at the assembly.
     Anderson will work with the staff and synod leaders toward
healing in this crisis and planning for interim leadership.  A
new bishop will not be elected immediately but at a special
assembly, according to a letter from Ashton and Anderson that was
sent to all pastors in the North Carolina Synod.
     Menees, 46, was elected bishop in 1991 and re-elected in
1995.  He served as assistant to the bishop in the North Carolina
Synod from 1982 to 1991, in both the ELCA and the former Lutheran
Church in America.  He was ordained in the Lutheran church in
1979 and served as pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Hickory,
N.C., from 1979 to 1982.
     Menees attended Martin College, Pulaski, Tenn., and
graduated from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tenn.
He earned a Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt University,
Nashville, Tenn.  Menees was first ordained in the United
Methodist Church.  He served in chaplaincy at the Veterans
Administration Hospital, Nashville, and as a parish pastor in the
United Methodist Church.
     A statement accompanying Anderson's letter stated, "The ELCA
has taken significant steps to protect the integrity of its
ministry and to make the church a safe place."  Policies and
procedures are in place in ELCA synods, including the North
Carolina Synod, to respond to complaints of clergy sexual
misconduct.  Synods also provide education for clergy and laity
to create and maintain strong, creative, and healthy
relationships in the church.  Most recently the ELCA published
"Safe Connections: What Parishioners can do to Understand and
Prevent Clergy Sexual Abuse."

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service,
(312) 380-2958; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir., (312) 380-2955; Lia
Christiansen, Asst. Dir., (312) 380-2956

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