AN AMERICAN pastor who brought a claim of unfair dismissal
against St Anne's Lutheran Church, London, to an employment
tribunal has settled privately, but he remains critical of the
Lutheran Church in Great Britain (LCiGB), which removed his
permission to serve as a pastor in 2011.
On 8 July 2011, the LCiGB withdrew its permission for Timothy
Dearhamer, now living in Oklahama, to serve as a pastor of the
LCiGB. This decision was upheld by an independent appeal board on 9
September 2011. The LCiGB spent £27,000 in legal costs.
The Council of St Anne's Lutheran Church then dismissed Mr
Dearhamer as the senior pastor of the congregation on 8 October
2011, and its decision was upheld on appeal. Paul Renken of St
Anne's Lutheran Church said that the Church had been "compelled" to
dismiss Mr Dearhamer by the fact that his licence had been removed
by the LCiGB, and that the congregation risked suspension from the
LCiGB unless it did so.
Mr Dearhamer was accused of "gross misconduct" by the Bishop of
the LCiGB, the Rt Revd Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, in June 2011. He
alleges that the LCiGB council "did not follow their own
disciplinary process" in the hearing that followed. The Dean of the
LCiGB, the Very Revd Thomas Bruch, said that the procedure, which
was updated in line with ACAS guidelines in 2011 before the
hearing, was followed "scrupulously". Certain "actions" in the
United States regarding Mr Dearhamer had caused the Council
"concern", he said.
Mr Dearhamer believes that the LCiGB appeal panel that was
convened to hear his case found him guilty of only a single
"I was cleared of all charges, but, because I failed to meet
with Bishop Jana Jeruma-Grinberga in a timely manner, I was found
guilty of insubordination to the Bishop, and they upheld the
decision to remove me from the LCiGB."
Mr Dearhamer said: "It is important to note that no one has ever
questioned my theology, preaching, worship leadership or skills as
a pastor. In my 20 years as a pastor, I have never been accused of
any misconduct, or disciplined in any way by any of the
congregations or church bodies in which I have served. The appeal
panel of the LCiGB even commented in their decision that they
agreed with me theologically, but that it was beyond their remit to
allow that to determine their findings."
Mr Dearhamer also remains unhappy with the composition of the
appeal panel, reporting that all three members were fellow trustees
with Bishop Jeruma-Grinberga of the Lutheran Council of Great
Britain, who were, until December 2010, the employers of Dean
Dean Bruch disputes this interpretation of events. The members
of the panel were drawn from a "completely different organisation"-
the Council of Lutheran Churches, he said; and the panel members
were from churches other than the LCiGB.
He explained: "The Appeal Board considered two charges against
Mr Dearhamer, and set aside one of them on the balance of
probabilities, without totally exonerating him. The other charge,
of serious insubordination against his bishop, was upheld on the
grounds that he had made it effectively impossible for the bishop
to meet him, and he had explicitly rejected episcopal
While the Appeal Board acknowledged that the Lutheran communion
had varying traditions of episcopal authority, it concluded that Mr
Dearhamer was well aware of the LCiGB's Code of Conduct, which
required its pastors to accept episcopal oversight, and it agreed
that his rejection of such oversight amounted to serious