Call to Prayer Statement from Bishop Peggy A. Johnson on A.B. Schirmer Conviction

January 22, 2013

This afternoon, a Monroe County jury convicted former United Methodist pastor, Arthur (A. B.) Schirmer, of first degree murder in the death of Schirmer’s second wife, Betty Jean, in July of 2008.

Mr. Schirmer is additionally awaiting trial in Lebanon County in the death of his first wife, Jewel, in 1999.

Mr. Schirmer had formerly served as a licensed local pastor in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Beginning in 1970, he served the following appointments: Big Creek: Salem UMC, Lehighton: Ebenezer UMC, Middle Creek: Timothy UMC, Weissport: Ebenezer UMC, Bainbridge: Ludwig UMC, Marietta UMC, and Lebanon: Bethany UMC.  Most recently he served Reeders United Methodist Church in Reeders, PA, from 2001 to 2008.  On November 14, 2008, he withdrew from The United Methodist Church under complaint, and surrendered his ministerial credentials (resigned). He is no longer a minister in The United Methodist Church.

We are deeply grieved when someone in a trusted pastoral position betrays that trust.  We are deeply grieved by Betty Jean’s tragic death, as well as the death of Jewel Schirmer, Mr. Schirmer’s first wife.

We call all people to join us in prayer.

Please pray for A.B. Schirmer, the Schirmer family, friends of the family, and all affected by this situation.  Please pray for the congregations and pastors of Bethany United Methodist Church in Lebanon, and for Reeders United Methodist Church in Reeders, PA, where Mr. Schirmer had most recently served.

We pray that God’s mercy and justice will prevail.