Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
On August 2, we received news through an official announcement from the Oregon-Idaho Conference. The announcement was that the Rev. James Parkhurst, at that time serving as the Camping and Retreat Ministries Director for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, had been arrested for “alleged criminal conduct.” That information was shared with you through a post in the Desert Connection (https://desertconnection.org/former-conference-staff-member-under-investigation)
Although the announcement did not implicate Parkhurst in crimes related to his time on staff here in the Desert Southwest Conference, a response team was constituted to work with me. I asked Dave McPherson to head this team consisting of Ron Bartlow, Christina Dillabough, and Randy Bowman. Subsequently, I have added the presence of a District Superintendent, Susan Brims, to the team. The charge of the Response Team is:
- To be the central receiving point for information coming from the Oregon-Idaho Conference.
- To engage in research and inquiry to determine if there was any evidence of criminal activity or harm to others while Parkhurst was on staff in the Desert Southwest Conference prior to leaving in 2010.
- To communicate clearly and accurately to our Conference any information that we receive as it becomes certified as authoritative and accurate.
- To call us to prayer for those who are affected by this incident.
The Response Team has since conducted research into our records of Parkhurst’s ministry in the Desert Southwest Conference. The Team has consulted with our Conference Chancellor for legal advice; and reviewed our communications strategy. We have also been in contact with leadership in the Oregon-Idaho Conference including their bishop and their Response Team.
Since the DSC Communications Office sent out its notification to our Conference on August 5, new information has been shared with us.
- Parkhurst’s arrest is a result of allegations that he produced child pornography.
- The information we have to date does not implicate him in any criminal activity involving children or others related to his work as a Conference staff person for camping and retreat ministries in Desert Southwest, Oregon-Idaho, or Detroit Conferences.
- Parkhurst was originally placed on administrative leave by Bishop Grant Hagiya, and has subsequently resigned from his position on staff for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.
- Parkhurst has also surrendered his deacon’s credentials and is no longer a United Methodist clergy person.
Because this matter is the subject of an ongoing, open investigation, Federal authorities are not disclosing information. As a result, I encourage us all to be patient with a process that is by Federal mandate confidential except for information they agree can be released to the public.
In the light of the information shared in this communication, we reiterate our commitment to disseminate accurate information. We also affirm our high commitment to insuring the safety of our children and youth and protecting all persons through observance of stringent Conference-mandated safety procedures.
If anyone has information, please contact one of the Response Team members or your District Superintendent. Contact information for the Response Team and Superintendents is listed below.
Finally, in the sadness that accompanies news such as this, I want to remind us that we must refrain from spreading innuendo, rumor, or conjecture. Let us be slow to make judgments or assumptions, and swift to ask for God’s presence for all who have been harmed or hurt, and let us pray for Jim Parkhurst and his family in God’s grace.
In Christ’s love,
|Response Team||District Superintendents|
|*Dottie Escobedo-Frank, South|
|(*on vacation until Sept. 1. Please contact Susan or Neil.)|
|, Team Leader|
The following PDF resources have been compiled to assist you in your pastoral response. Please click on the links below to download each document.