Bruxy Cavey, the primary teaching pastor of one of Canada's largest megachurches, The Meeting House, has resigned after an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct commissioned by the church last December concluded that he abused his power.
"The investigator determined that Bruxy had maintained a sexual relationship with the victim, an adult woman, in violation of The Meeting House policy and the Handbook of Faith and Life of Be in Christ Church of Canada," Maggie John, chair of the church's overseers board, said in a statement Tuesday.
"The investigator also found that what became a sexual relationship between Bruxy and the victim, which lasted over an extended period of time, constituted an abuse of Bruxy's power and authority as a member of the clergy, and amounted to sexual harassment."
As a result of the findings, the board "unanimously decided to ask Bruxy to resign from his role at The Meeting House effective immediately."
Cavey submitted his resignation on March 3, which the church leaders accepted.
The news about the 57-year-old Cavey, who authored popular books like The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus, comes after he helped fuel The Meeting House in its rise to megachurch status.
According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, the church claimed as many as 5,000 members across 19 campuses in the larger Toronto metropolitan area.
In a confession posted on his blog on Tuesday, Cavey apologized for keeping his sin secret but said as soon as he was asked about his actions by church leadership, he confessed. He said the church asked him not to address the situation publicly until an investigation had been conducted.
"When our church leadership first talked to me about this I confessed. I was asked not to talk about it publicly until an official and external, third-party investigation could be completed, and our overseers could communicate the findings," he wrote.
He called his actions his "greatest failure" and "darkest sin."
"Some years ago, I had an extramarital affair. I am ashamed even to write these words, and I am so sorry that you have to read them. This adulterous relationship is my greatest failure, my darkest sin, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Cavey said. "I have broken bonds of trust with my wife, family, and church family, including the woman I became involved with. I have brought untold pain, heartache, and confusion into the lives of those I love and who love me. I am deeply sorry."
In addition to Cavey, Meeting House Pastor Danielle Strickland announced this week that she is resigning to stand "in solidarity with the victim of abuse."
On Wednesday, Strickland posted a social media video where she read a statement from the woman (identified only by the pseudonym "Hagar"). The statement began by responding to a question someone asked during the church's town meeting: "Wasn't this just an affair?"
"Executive Chair of the overseers board, Maggie John, responded directly: 'No, the investigator found that given how the relationship started, which was in a clergy-counselor relationship, Bruxy abused his power and authority, and as the pastor, was responsible for ensuring that he did not abuse his power and authority,'" Strickland said. "I feel this question has come up because the findings failed to name the abuse of power and authority explicitly for what it is: clergy sexual abuse."
"This began during a pastoral-counseling relationship when I was 23 and he was 46," the woman's statement reads. "I was in crisis and trust in him. I did not, nor could I, consent to a sexual relationship with him."
"This for me was not an extramarital relationship or affair. It was a devastating twisting of pastoral care into sexual abuse. Last night, The Meeting House shared that they stand with victims and do not tolerate abuse or sexual misconduct. I hope you can understand why I need time to process the trauma of this moment. In the future, I would like to share how clergy sexual abuse can be prevented and other victims and survivors can be protected from further harm when they come forward."
Cavey's statement admits that he was "irresponsible" in his role as a "spiritual leader and Christian clergy, which involves dynamics of power and influence and an expectation of exemplary conduct that makes me doubly accountable."
"I accept this responsibility, with deep regret for my actions," he said. "I wish I had had the courage years ago to divulge what has now become publicly known through the bravery of the woman I was involved with. Although I had repented before God, I kept it a secret from others. I am sorry upon sorry for my cowardice. I realize that repentance without confession is only partial and prevents healing and authentic relationship in the light of truth."
Cavey expressed concern about how his resignation could impact the church's ministry and urged members to continue supporting the work.
"I know this news is particularly unsettling for those of you who are part of The Meeting House, and my heart is broken over the heavy burden I am leaving behind for our congregation and leadership to carry together in the wake of my selfish choices," Cavey's statement reads.
"Because we have always placed a high value on shared leadership, I trust that my leaving will not significantly upset the church's direction and operations. On the contrary, I believe it will make room for other diverse and exceptional leaders, and I will continue to cheer them on as they lead the church forward."
Cavey said he will work on healing spiritually and psychologically with his family and thanked his supporters for their encouragement.
He also asked supporters not to see his failure as "a failure of the presence, power, or teaching of Jesus, but an example of the pain someone like me can cause when I ignore his presence."
Cavey became the pastor of what was once known as Upper Oaks Community Church in 1997. Later, the church's name was changed to The Meeting House and has launched several campuses.