The Rev. Ginger Strickland, 33, of Church of the Incarnation in New York City, is under fire amid a complaint that she seduced a male parishioner. Erik Campano, the 34-year-old at the center of the controversy, claims that the two carried on a secret affair, which purportedly included hook-ups in a rectory in Paris, France, and naked Skype video chats over church computers.
While the romance was apparently intense, it inevitably ended with Stickland dumping Campano — an act that he claims had a dire impact on him. The New York Post has more about how the alleged affair began:
Strickland, from a Texas oil baron’s family, and Campano, from Queens, met in late 2010 at the American Church in Paris, where she held a job leading a youth ministry. He was going to medical school, attended services, and — at Strickland’s urging, he said — became a church volunteer.
Over several months, Campano says, Strickland first engaged him in e-mail discussions dripping with pastoral concern and advice for coping with his studies and his mother’s cancer. He says he resisted her invitations to socialize.
Finally, alone in a gym after an outing with a jogging club, she leaned over to kiss him, the start of a four-month affair.
In a complaint document that the Post obtained, Campano wrote to church officials, detailing these activities (and plenty of others), claiming that Stickland told him, “God brought you to me.”
“On her initiation, we are naked…over church computers,” he continued, highlighting the alleged Skype “dates” that the two held. If true, this description — especially the idea that the actions were carried out over church computers — will likely cause problems for the young preacher.
Strickland moved to the U.S. last summer to take a job at the Church of Incarnation. Initially, the two continued their romance via Skype, but Campano claims that the pastor asked for “space” in November and then ended the relationship one month later. He also claims that the preacher told him that further contact would complicate her ministry.
The breakup was apparently very hard for Campano, as he said that he considered suicide in the wake of it. Now, he’s fighting back, claiming that the church should have protected him against the relationship. So, he filed a report and accused Strickland — just weeks before her ordination — of sexual misconduct, hiding her wrongdoing and acting out in an un-clergy-like manner.
“I felt betrayed by my church, which was supposed to enforce rules against pastors having relationships with parishioners,” he said in an interview with the Post. “If you believe your relationship is blessed by God, a breakup means a failure to live out God’s will.”
“God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Sin boldly!,” she allegedly said. “Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger.”
So far, the church hasn’t taken disciplinary action against Strickland. The case was, at first, dismissed. Then, Campano won an appeal and an Episcopal panel is now examining it further.
(H/T: Daily Mail)