TW/Trigger Warning: The post below contains a story of abuse, but no graphic details.
Dear Resurrection Family,
Last week an anonymous online story was posted which detailed disturbing grooming behavior by one of our current parishioners, Chris Lapeyre. I want to address some of the fears and concerns that you may have about this story and how we are striving to provide safety for our people, especially our children.
The events described in the story occurred in 2011-12 and involved a highly inappropriate emotional relationship with a high school student within and then beyond the school context where he taught, not at Resurrection. Chris initiated a sexual relationship after she became an adult. This woman’s story is heartbreaking, and we mourn the pain she continues to experience.
Normally, pastoral discipline and care plans for parishioners are maintained confidentially. However, given the now-public nature of this story, our pastoral staff team decided it is necessary to share the disciplinary process that we enacted, and the action steps we asked Chris to take in order to walk out his journey of repentance. In developing the following plan, of prime importance was caring for the safety of our congregation and the protection of the most vulnerable in our midst.
In December of 2020, Chris confessed to two members of our pastoral staff. He was immediately removed from all volunteer positions, with a permanent prohibition on serving with children and youth. There was a period of formal excommunication, in which Chris was not allowed to receive Holy Communion. He was required to meet regularly with a counselor whose expertise is in sexual addiction, and to begin regularly attending a 12-step program for sexual addicts. Any interaction with minors without the presence of another adult was prohibited.
In the early fall of 2021, additional steps were added to this plan due to our growing knowledge of patterns of abuse, and due to new details we received about Chris’s past behavior. We required Chris to disclose to his current employer the truth about his past. We also required him to do the same with the parents of families most closely connected to his family. We followed up with his work supervisor and with the parents to ensure these steps were taken and to be available for anything the disclosure brought up. We increased the restrictions regarding contact with minors, stipulating that there be no contact with minors in the home or in vehicles, even if another adult was present. We also removed him from Sunday morning worship (note: this is not the same as formal excommunication; Holy Communion was ministered at home). Chris accepted these terms, and other details of the plan not listed here, and has continued to abide by our pastoral leadership. Our plan was reviewed and approved by two outside voices: a sexual addictions counselor, and an expert – and survivor— in handling abuse in church communities.
In March of 2022, the decision was made to invite Chris back to Sunday morning worship, with the following parameters in place: Chris will have a team of chaperones who will take turns sitting with him. A chaperone will meet him at the door and stay with him until he exits the building. After the service, if members of the family wish to fellowship in other parts of the building, Chris will stay in his seat in the sanctuary, with the chaperone. Chris is restricted to the sanctuary, and the narthex only as he is entering and leaving. The chaperone will accompany Chris to the bathroom.
This week we asked Chris not to attend services for a season. He acknowledges that his presence at this time could hamper others’ worship, and he understands the need for time and space for our people to process with their pastors as they may need to do.
At Rez, we remain fully and deeply committed to two crucial gospel values and practices. First, we are aware that Rez has many parishioners who are themselves victims of abuse. We are committed to their care and protection. Second, we are also committed to being a place where sinners, even notorious sinners, can belong and encounter Jesus (with appropriate safeguards in place). Please pray for victims and offenders, and pray for all of us as we continually learn and grow in our desire to vigilantly protect victims AND call sinners to repentance and transformation in Jesus.
In light of what we are still learning, we want to take this opportunity to reach out to more people. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of abuse or grooming by any person or leader in this congregation or another in our diocese, we encourage you to participate in the ongoing investigations here. Also, if you would like to talk to a pastor, please contact Pastoral Care Pastor Meghan Robins at firstname.lastname@example.org or one of our non-staff vestry members at email@example.com.
If you’re interested in resources on abuse and more information, please see the links below.
Fr. Matt Woodley
- You can find resources on identifying, responding to, and preventing abuse, including how to talk to children and youth, here.
- Read church practices, policies, beliefs, and past Rez updates on the investigative process here.
- Find related diocesan updates here.
- See the Province’s overview here.
*5/22/22 Correction: The 5th paragraph, 4th sentence originally stated: “We followed up with his counselor and…” It should have read: “We followed up with his work supervisor and…”