Lutheran pastor resigns after investigation into online misconduct

A Lutheran pastor in Saskatchewan has resigned after an independent investigation found that he had "belittled, mocked and devalued" people — particularly women — online.

Before his resignation from the pastoral ministry of the Lutheran Church of Canada (LCC), Todd Guggenmos had been the pastor of the Triune Lutheran Parish, which serves the rural communities of Langenburg, Landestru and MacNutt, approximately two and a half hours northeast of Regina.

In a statement released Thursday, LCC outlined the findings of the investigation.

Over a nearly two-year period, Guggenmos had posted thousands of tweets through an anonymous Twitter account, targeting specific people and using "foul and demeaning language," the statement said.

The investigation also found that, while Guggenmos's tweets had targeted both men and women, "he used language that was specifically demeaning to women.

"Such misconduct is unbecoming of a spiritual leader as it fails to conform to the holy life which Scripture and LCC requires of its pastors," the church said.

The investigation also analyzed a tweet, allegedly from one of Guggenmos' anonymous accounts, related to the age of consent for sexual activity. The investigation could not confirm the actual author of the tweet, and Guggenmos has publicly denied writing it.

The investigation began earlier this year, after people who said they had been targeted by Guggenmos online brought their complaints to the church.

"LCC is grateful to the complainants for their strength and courage in bringing this matter to our attention, and for their patience while awaiting the conclusion of the independent investigation," the church said.

"We express our sincere sorrow and pray for all who have been affected by this unacceptable situation, especially those who were the recipients of unwarranted and disturbing online behaviour."

Guggenmos could not be reached for comment.

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix