March 08, 2005

Church excommunicates former teacher

SEWARD (NE)
Lincoln Journal Star

By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star

SEWARD When it was over, 11 elders who might have acted sooner and on their own stood up front at St. John Lutheran Church on Sunday afternoon.

At least two hundred members of the congregation filed by to shake their hands and to offer them words of forgiveness.

"It was," said Congregational Chairman Ray Huebschman, "a most powerful moment."

A few minutes earlier, the 230 people in the pews learned the outcome of their two votes at an emotional congregational meeting.

In the first, Huebschman said Monday, a "clear majority" voted to excommunicate Seward resident Arlen Meyer from an overall church membership of about 2,100.

A second motion meant to identify those who may have failed to act on knowledge of Meyer's alleged sexual misconduct against students at the school from as long ago as the 1970s was "soundly defeated," he said.

The subsequent interaction between members and elders "brought much tears and joy," Huebschman said, "and the victims present felt relieved and welcomed back."

"As people say, you needed to be there."

Posted by kshaw at March 8, 2005 07:18 AM