Minnesota Pastor Resigns, Escapes Criminal Charge After Confessing to Inappropriate Adulterous Relationship With Married Congregant

Pastor Steve Timm
(Photo: Facebook)

A Minnesota pastor resigned after confessing to an adulterous relationship with a married congregant. His resignation came after the congregant’s husband reported him to police.

Steve Timm, who’s also a National Guard chaplain, was lead pastor at Rejoice Lutheran Church in Clearwater until July 7, when The Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said he resigned after confessing his sin.

“On July 7, Pr. Steve Timm resigned as pastor of Rejoice Lutheran in Clearwater, [Minnesota], after admitting to inappropriate sexual behavior with an adult female. A disclosure to Rejoice Lutheran congregational members happened on July 9. We are in the early steps of our discipline process. We are disclosing Pr. Timm’s conduct and resignation to congregations he previously served in other synods. We have disclosed this to the military, where he has also served,” Bishop Jon Anderson of The Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in a statement to The Christian Post Tuesday.

In his profile on the church’s website, which has since been removed, Timm, who is married with five children, said he has been a pastor since 1999 and a National Guard chaplain since 2003.

“I still thank God for both of those callings. My pastoral passion is helping people find and grow in a faith that is relevant and real. I’m blessed by my wife Megan and our five kids, and I’m blessed to be part of such a faithful, welcoming community of believers here at Rejoice!” he said.

Lt. Matt Treichler of the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with CP Tuesday that it was the congregant’s husband who reported the matter to police. He did not immediately confirm if the congregant’s husband was also a member of the church.

Under Minnesota Law, members of the clergy can be charged with criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if a complainant is not their spouse and: (i) sexual penetration occurred during the course of a meeting in which the complainant sought or received religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the actor in private; or (ii) the sexual penetration occurred during a period of time in which the complainant was meeting on an ongoing basis with the actor to seek or receive religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private. Consent by the complainant is not a defense against this charge which draws a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a fine of $30,000.

The complaint against Timm sought to charge him with criminal sexual conduct in the third degree.

In a redacted copy of the report filed against Timm, the pastor allegedly sent inappropriate text messages to his parishioner near the end of January while she was consulting with him about her marital problems. The parishioner and Timm later decided to discuss the text messages while picking up tables for a church event at Ikea. Once they were at Ikea, however, the pastor allegedly attempted to kiss his parishioner and she rejected his advances. When they were done shopping, things got heated inside the vehicle they traveled in with sexual touching. It was at this point that Timm told his parishioner that he could no longer counsel her as a pastor but just as friends.

The parishioner explained that by the end of February they were involved in a sexual relationship. The sexual relationship ended at the start of April when Timm told his wife.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair