Ohio Pastor Commits Suicide After Confessing to Having an Affair With Church Member

First United Methodist Church Pastor Seth Oiler delivers a sermon in January 2014. He died Friday at age 42. (Photo: Advocate file photo)
First United Methodist Church Pastor Seth Oiler delivers a sermon in January 2014. He died Friday at age 42.
(Photo: Advocate file photo)

The words that follow these might upset some of you.

But a significant part of our community has been grieving since Friday and it would be wrong to not acknowledge the death of a community leader.

The Rev. Seth Oiler, the 42-year-old pastor of Newark’s proud congregation at First United Methodist Church, died by suicide at his church-owned home Friday morning. According to a letter sent to the congregation earlier this month, Oiler had been placed on leave recently after admitting to an affair with an adult staff member.

As news of his death spread over the long holiday weekend, many were at a loss of words amid the gossip. There are countless questions and no good answers for why a father, not to mention a pastor, would take his own life even if he faced the worst of dilemmas.

Unfortunately, I never met Oiler during his nearly two years in Newark outside a brief handshake when he joined the Newark Rotary Club several weeks ago. That same club read a resolution of sympathy Tuesday to be delivered to his wife and three children. A few minutes later, as previously scheduled, the church’s executive pastor, Steve Rath, formally joined the club.

I introduced myself to Rath afterward and he politely told me he could not comment on the situation at this time. I can only imagine the challenges and pain he’s coping with right now.

We then reached out to Lisa Streight, communications director for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, who issued the following statement late Tuesday:

“The bishop (Gregory Palmer) requested a meeting with Seth at which time Seth freely confessed to sexual misconduct with an adult in the congregation. Seth requested a voluntary leave of absence. He agreed with the bishop that stepping aside from his current appointment at First United Methodist Church was best in order to provide a time of counseling for himself and his family.”

While Oiler would not have returned to the church, Streight said the church was providing support to the family, including allowing them to temporarily stay in the parsonage and extend his salary.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Newark Advocate
Michael Shearer

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