LOUISVILLE
Elder Vilmarie Cintron-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly announce their decision to change books for their book study program at the Moderators’ Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Rick Jones.

Elder Vilmarie Cintron-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly announce their decision to change books for their book study program at the Moderators’ Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Rick Jones.

The Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly are making a switch in the books they are recommending for study. Last month, the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri had recommended churches take up the book “Where the Cross Meets the Street.”

Kohlmann and Cintrón-Olivieri recently learned that the author resigned his position after allegations surfaced that he had created a “hostile and abusive” work environment.

“We followed up on the story, and according to unverified information available to the public online, there are allegations that this apparent pattern of bad behavior has been present for over 12 years and has also been ignored or enabled by the board,” they said.

The co-moderators say toxic leadership that abuses power and authority has no place within the church and is anathema to the body of Christ.

Some presbyteries and synods had begun introducing the book to churches. Kohlmann and Cintrón-Olivieri apologized for the inconvenience their decision has caused. “We are even more deeply sorry that cultures of abuse towards women and those with less privilege are allowed to continue in any institution, and especially in the church.”

Shortly after their election at the General Assembly in June, Cintrón-Olivieri and Kohlmann said they wanted to continue the book study launched by former Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly (2016), the Reverends Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston.

The co-moderators will be announcing a new book within the next few weeks and are considering topics around abuse of power and the work of evangelism and justice.

The entire statement is below:

 

It has recently come to our attention that the author of the book we chose for the “One Church, One Book” initiative has resigned from his position amid allegations of creating a hostile and abusive work environment. We followed up on the story, and according to unverified information available to the public online, there are allegations that this apparent pattern of bad behavior has been present for over twelve years and has also been ignored or enabled by the board.

For this reason, we will no longer be recommending “Where the Cross Meets the Street” to the Presbyterian Church. Toxic leadership that abuses power and authority has no place within the church, and is anathema to the body of Christ.

More information will be in a press release on Monday. We are working to choose a new book that calls the church to the faithful work of evangelism and justice, and hope to announce that choice in the next few weeks.

For this conference, we did not offer the workshops introducing the content of the book. Instead, we, along with a few other pastors, held conversation during the workshop hour.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause those of you who have planned to use the book or who have already introduced the book to your Presbyteries and Synods. We are even more deeply sorry that cultures of abuse towards women and those with less privilege are allowed to continue in any institution, and especially in the church.


 

Cindy Kohlmann                     Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly (2018)


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