Married Pastor Commits Suicide After Admitting to An Adulterous Affair With A Church Member

Seth Oiler, former pastor of First United Methodist Church, took his own life after admitting to an adulterous relationship with a former church staff.
Pastor Seth Oiler, 42, took his own life after confessing to an affair. Photo:

Seth Oiler, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Newark, Ohio, committed suicide last month after confessing that he had an adulterous affair with a church staff. He took his own life in the parsonage where he lived with his wife and children.

Oiler reportedly met with Bishop Gregory Palmer and "confessed to a sexual misconduct with an adult in the congregation." The pastor then requested for a voluntary leave of absence.

"He agreed with the bishop that stepping aside from his current appointment at First United Methodist Church was best in order to provide a time of counseling for himself and his family," said Lisa Streight, communications director for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, in a statement published in the Newark Advocate.

After Oiler's confession, the church decided to extend support to him by continuing to give his salary and letting him and his family stay in the parsonage temporarily. The news of his suicide came as a shock to the church and the community.

"We were just heartbroken and stunned," said Streight. "Many people are grieving, including of course his wife and children, the congregation he served and so many of his colleagues and friends. It was terribly sad," she added, according to another report from the Newark Advocate.

Streight said the conference sent a team to help support and encourage the church in their time of grief.

Many pastors suffer from the various pressures, such as temptation, being burned out, depression, and financial lack. Others even suffer from feelings of being sad and alone.

Isaac Hunter, former pastor of Summit Church in Orlando, took his own life in December 2013, a year after admitting to an affair with a former church staff. Before the suicide, the pastor's behavior already manifested warning signs of emotional struggles and suicidal thoughts as he got caught in the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.

He even wrote a suicide note, which was later discovered in his computer, long before he committed suicide, expressing his deep regret that he has "become what I never wished to be, a burden on those I love the most," according to Charisma News.

In the same year, Pastor Ed Montgomery, while grieving for the loss of his wife Jackie, shot himself as his son and mother watched. Apparently, Montgomery was hearing the voice and footsteps of his dead wife.

Pastors are not immune to depression. According to a study done by the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, 70 percent of pastors battle depression. The study also showed that 71 percent of pastors feel burned out, while 90 percent said they were frequently fatigued.

When asked about the impact of pastoral ministry, 80 percent said that it has negatively affected their families. In terms of relationships, 77 percent felt that they did not have a good marriage, while 70 percent said they have no close friend.  

The death of Oiler and other pastors who committed suicide is a good reminder for the church to always uphold their leaders in intercession, according to Charisma senior editor Jennifer LeClaire.

Oiler left behind his wife Joyce and their three children - Isabelle, Abigal and Noah. Having previously served the United States Navy, he was buried with military honors at Ware's Chapel United Methodist Church in West Manchester.



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