UMC ends pastor's
The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church on Aug. 11 released an updated statement concerning John W. Hampton, Jr., who faces a series of alleged child sex crimes in Camden County.
The conference said Bishop Bob Farr met with Hampton on Aug. 11 in a supervisory meeting and removed him from his appointment to the Hermann and Rosebud United Methodist Churches. Farr serves as bishop of the Missouri Area of The United Methodist Church.
Hampton will remain on indefinite suspension without pay until the criminal case filed against him in Camden County reaches a resolution. He is not allowed on church property, per restrictions enumerated with the criminal charges.
The Conference stated that a 30-day suspension with pay was an initial step to ensure protection of the congregants at Hermann and Rosebud, and to allow time for the supervisory processes to proceed.
"After following the processes of the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline, Bishop Bob Farr made the decision to end John Hampton's appointment to Hermann and Rosebud entirely," the Conference added.
The church's leadership further explained the reasons for its actions.
"The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church is committed to providing safe places of worship and fellowship to everyone we serve. The Conference considers this to be a serious situation and will cooperate fully with the police investigation if asked. At this time, Conference officials have no reason to believe anything criminal took place on church property or with anyone associated with the Hermann or Rosebud United Methodist Churches."
Following notification that Hampton was arrested and released on bond on Aug. 2, Bishop Farr took immediate action to suspend Hampton, with the Northeast District Superintendent informing him he was not allowed on church property. The Safe Sanctuaries Authority of the Missouri Conference then notified Safe Gatherings that his certification should be suspended until further notice. Safe Gatherings is a third-party abuse prevention system the Conference utilizes for clergy and lay volunteers working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. The system includes abuse prevention training, background checks and reference checks.
Additionally, all active United Methodist clergy in Missouri undergo extensive training, psychological examination and additional background checks prior to appointment to local churches. Neither the Missouri Conference, nor any of Hampton's supervisors, were aware of a criminal investigation or any allegations prior to his arrest and release on bond.
The Conference detailed why it chose to treat Hampton as it did, in light of the investigation.
"John Hampton was never 'ordained' within the meaning of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. In the United Methodist tradition, we have ordained clergy, those set apart for lifetime vocational ministry; and licensed local pastors, whose authority is only within the appointment setting and does not extend beyond it.
"Hampton was in the second category, appointed with a 'license for ministry'. Licenses confer pastoral authority only within a particular setting. That license was only valid so long as he was appointed to these local churches. He is no longer appointed and his license is no longer valid, meaning he has no pastoral authority or responsibilities within the United Methodist Church."
The Conference added that Northeast District Superintendent Rev. Robin Bell is meeting with local church leaders and working on a temporary plan for pastoral care and supervision for the Hermann and Rosebud churches until Bishop Farr announces a new appointment.
"We will be following the criminal investigation and hope justice prevails. We invite prayer for everyone involved in this situation," the Conference concluded.
Hampton's initial appearance in the case is set for Tuesday, Sept. 6, in Camden County Associate Circuit Court in Camdenton.